Dr Cyan Brown is a Johannesburg-based medical doctor with a passion for making healthcare access more equitable; she is helping to achieve gender equality through health. Determined to make a significant impact to help create a more accessible, better quality health service for all South Africans, she is focused on community change and women’s empowerment.
Five years ago, Brown started the TuksRes Women in Leadership Academy at the University of Pretoria, a year-long programme dedicated to equipping young women with life, business and leadership skills. The course includes a mentorship and community service relationship with local underprivileged high schools, whereby schoolgirls are taught about safe sex, gender-based violence, financial literacy, self-worth, self-care, and how to access further educational opportunities. It also includes content lessons on leadership skills and events with guest speakers for the students.
As a doctor, Brown believes health is defined by holistic wellbeing, rather than merely the absence of disease, so she considers eliminating gender inequality integral to helping women become healthy and achieve their full potential.
“We’re aiming to produce a generation of empathetic, skilled, aware and connected South African women leaders. The programme has seen more than 1 000 students graduate and is looking to spread to other campuses in South Africa,” she says.
Brown is studying her MSc in Public Health with a global health specialisation through King’s College London online, to achieve a more comprehensive understanding of the complexity of achieving health access equitably.
She is already making waves in the health sector. She was selected as one of 25 Atlantic Fellows for Health Equity by the Tekano Institute. The programme is a year-long fellowship aimed at equipping leaders in the public health space with the tools and knowledge to help make healthcare more equitable in South Africa and be advocates of social justice.
She was also the only South African selected from 12 500 applicants worldwide for the Young Sustainable Impact Programme 2019, an incubation hub that creates an environment where teams of young people from around the world create innovative start-ups to help contribute to sustainable development goals.
“I believe we need to innovate and disrupt the healthcare industry if we are going to see solutions to some of the tough healthcare challenges our country is facing,” Brown says.
Cyan has already achieved wide recognition for her work. She was one of the top 30 young women leaders in South Africa in the McKinsey NGWLA awards in 2017, was considered one of the top 10 students in South Africa by Gradstar in 2016, received the gold level of the Duke of Edinburgh President’s award in 2017, and became an associate fellow of the Royal Commonwealth society in 2017. –Linda Doke