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Indigenous sub-Saharan societies have, over the millennia, lived and socialised within the unwritten ‘rules’ of the ‘Ubuntu’ or similar philosophies that emphasises holistic ‘humanness’, and which is a form of ‘social responsibility’. This article looks into some relevant social responsibility aspects of medical education in the South African context, with particular emphasis on how these aspects have been addressed. 
This article derives lessons from international experience of innovative rural health placements for medical students. It provides pointers for strengthening South African undergraduate rural health programmes in support of the government’s rural health, primary healthcare and National Health Insurance strategies.

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