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Sixty percent of Medical students in South Africa are from under-resourced families and it is very expensive to train doctors, says Nelson Mandela University’s Executive Dean of Health Sciences Professor Zukiswa Zingela.

Joining the scholarship recipients were Dr Reno Morar, Mandela University Medical School Director, Professor Zukiswa Zingela, Mandela University Executive Dean of Health Sciences, Dr Thandi Mgwebi, Mandela University’s DVC Research, Innovation and Internationalisation, Dr Richard Gordon, SAMRC representative, and Dr Sibongile Sowazi, Mandela University Director of Strategic Resource Mobilisation and Advancement.  

Prof Zingela addressed guests at the handover of joint scholarships from the Chan Soon-Shiong Family Foundation (CSSFF) and the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) to seven Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBChB) students for the duration of their six-year medical degree studies.

“The current global economic climate and the financial obstacles to accessible opportunities for postschool education for all means we are grappling with unprecedent challenges in higher education and health education. Being able to collaborate with donors like the Chan Soong-Shiong Family Foundation to improve that accessibility and enhance opportunities for further study gives us hope.

“It enables us to see beyond the brokenness of our systems to the invaluable potential human capital that lies in our youth. When we are empowered in collaborative ways like this to nurture our future doctors, even the brokenness in our systems presents us with an opportunity to excel. And excel, we will. This keeps our hope eternal,” Prof Zingela, said.

Patrick Soon-Shiong, a medical doctor and Chair of CSSFF, was born and bred in the Eastern Cape, making the awarding of deserving students from Mandela University a fitting contribution.

“I have very fond memories of growing up in the Eastern Cape and I am thrilled that the Foundation has been able to contribute to support the studies of young doctors. Africa needs more doctors, and I am delighted to be able to support them in such a way. The Foundation wishes them the best with their studies, and we look forward to seeing their progress,” Dr Soon-Shiong said.

Dr Soon-Shiong further emphasised the need for cancer specialists and general practitioners in the country and the importance of supporting students, who would otherwise not have been able to enter the programme. He also hopes that Mandela University’s programme will grow in future.

Dr Thandi Mgwebi, Mandela University’s DVC Research, Innovation and Internationalisation, shared the importance of global ubuntu, cocreating sustainable and socially just opportunities and increasing student access. Research on diseases and drug development are crucial and already conducted at the University.  

Professor Glenda Gray, the SAMRC president and CEO said, “Doctors are the lifeblood of the health system. We need to ensure that we continue to support medical students in whatever way we can. We are particularly thrilled to be able to support students at Nelson Mandela University. These pioneers will be some of the first to graduate and the SAMRC is excited to chart their progress.”

One of the recipients, Khanyisile Mtsweni, responded and said that they welcome tahe bursaries as this helps them to not only take the burden of financial pressures of their shoulders but give them a chance to pursue their dream careers and make a difference.

The world needs more contributions to knowledge and national solutions to problems and less consumers, Mandela University Director of Strategic Resource Mobilisation and Advancement Dr Sibongile Sowazi, said in his vote of thanks. He emphasised that a full scholarship for six years is very rare and urged the recipients to grab the opportunity towards success.

The CSSFF and the SAMRC are collaborating on several capacity development programmes, which have been enabled through a generous donation from the CSSFF, with contributions from the SAMRC.

This is one of four programmes that seeks to support an area of need in Africa –working on building a sustainable medical workforce. To date, this programme has included notable awards for young scientists, enabling them to complete two biomanufacturing training internships as well as a range of awards for master’s and doctoral projects.

Mandela University situated in Gqeberha and George, prides itself with an institutional ethos which endevours to promote equity of access and opportunities, giving students the best chance of success in their pursuit of lifelong learning and diverse educational goals.

Further inputs:

See commentary from some of the students that have been awarded with scholarships here:

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Ms Elma de Koker
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Tel: 041-504 2160