Short Report – Special Collection: African Health Systems

Strengthening African health systems through outreach and support and values-driven leadership

Louis S. Jenkins, Klaus B. von Pressentin, Zilla North, Gideon van Tonder
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine | Vol 13, No 1 | a3043 | DOI: | © 2021 Louis S. Jenkins, Klaus B. Von Pressentin, Zilla North, Gideon Van Tonder | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 24 May 2021 | Published: 06 September 2021

About the author(s)

Louis S. Jenkins, Department of Family and Emergency Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa; and, Directorate of Primary Health Care, Faculty of Health Science, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa; and, Department of Family and Emergency Medicine, Western Cape Department of Health, George Regional Hospital, George, South Africa
Klaus B. von Pressentin, Division of Family Medicine, School of Public Health and Family Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
Zilla North, George sub-district, Garden Route District, Western Cape Department of Health, George, South Africa
Gideon van Tonder, Riversdale Hospital, Hessequa sub-district, Western Cape Department of Health, Riversdale, South Africa


Healthcare systems are complex adaptive systems, requiring a change in leadership style, from the traditional model to collaborative, values-driven leadership (VDL). Family physicians are well positioned to facilitate integration and coordination between levels of care, across specialties and within teams, in partnership with local and district management team members. This short report describes a leadership innovation experience in a rural South African district, where a VDL course was introduced in a district health context to build on a strong tradition of relationship-centred outreach and support aimed at creating a learning health system. The authors reflect on the contribution of family physicians to strengthen team-based capacity building, care coordination and a learning culture aimed at quality improvement from the perspectives of the regional and district hospital environments. A values-based leadership style will enable family physicians to strengthen team-relationships and create organisational environments, which support shared learning and quality improvement approaches. Ultimately this approach should lead to improved health systems.


Leadership; values; learning culture; family medicine; family physicians; outreach and support; healthcare teams; health systems


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Crossref Citations

1. Managing Local Health System Interdependencies: Referral and Outreach Systems for Maternal and Newborn Health in Three South African Districts
Helen Schneider, Solange Mianda, Willem Odendaal, Terusha Chetty
Systems  vol: 11  issue: 9  first page: 462  year: 2023  
doi: 10.3390/systems11090462