200 Young South African 2016
The Mail & Guardian’s annual feature of eminent 200 Young South Africans has become a hallmark of our calendar.
It is one of the most popular editions of the M&G, but it has earned significance far beyond our newsroom. A listing in the 200 Young South Africans supplement is now a feature of the best CVs in the country.
Every year since 2006, we’ve featured 200 young South Africans, on course to touch the world with their greatness. It is not an award as much as it is a mark of distinction — a number of young people featured have since grown into leaders in their fields. This is a celebration of excellence as much at is a directory of future leaders.
We begin by inviting nominations from the public, of people between the ages of 18-35, and we received over 6 000 nominations in 2019.
In September 2012 Dr Bart Willems swam four and a half laps of the Long Street pool in Cape Town entirely under water.
When he surfaced, he’d covered a distance of 114m and broken the South African freediving record. His feat was made extra special by the fact that he’d recovered from tuberculosis (TB) just five years earlier. He’d been infected with the disease in 2007 when he was a medical student completing his community service.
His experience brought home the risk public health professionals work under and inspired him to start TB Proof, an advocacy group, with fellow doctors, one of whom, Dr Dalene von Delft, survived multidrug-resistant TB. The group works to “proof ” healthcare workers against the risk of infection at the work place.
TB Proof also advocates for the development of and access to novel TB treatments and consults with bodies such as the World Health Organisation and Centres for Disease Control about the disease in South Africa.
In 2013 TB Proof was awarded the Centre for Global Health and Diplomacy Award for distinguished work in the field of global health diplomacy.
As a public health specialist at the Western Cape Health Department, 35-year-old Willems researches simple and complex solutions for occupational safety in public health centres.