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Change the world

07/05/2024

Academics, civic society representatives and seasoned medical practitioners are among the nine people recently inaugurated as Nelson Mandela University Medical School’s Community Advisory Board (CAB) at the institution’s Missionvale Campus. 

 

Nelson Mandela University Medical School Community Advisory Board members are, from left: Dr Reno Morar, Professor Flavia Senkubuge, Fezeka Mzalazala-Tyutyu, Dr Jeff Govender, Professor Zukiswa Zingela, Dan Ngcaphe and Bernadine Mpondo at the launch of the CAB at the institution’s Missionvale Campus. 

Renowned Gqeberha-based family doctor, social entrepreneur and community developer, Dr Jeff Govender, is the Chairperson of the inaugural CAB, with Mandela University’s Executive Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, Professor Zukiswa Zingela, and Director of the Medical School, Dr Reno Morar, as ex-officio members.

Anne Stevenson and Dr Akena Dickens

Other members of the CAB are educator and entrepreneur, Dan Ngcaphe; senior lecturer in Psychiatry at Makerere University College of Health Sciences in Uganda, Dr Akena Dickens; Deputy Dean: Stakeholder Relations at University of Pretoria’s Faculty of Health Sciences, Professor Flavia Senkubuge; Missionvale Care Centre clinic assistant, Bernadine Mpondo; Ubuntu Pathways outreach manager, Fezeka Mzalazala-Tyutyu, and NeuroGAP-Psychosis Study programme director at Harvard Chan School of Public Health, Anne Stevenson.

The launch of the CAB effectively entrenches Mandela University’s engagement philosophy of convergence and its resolve to be in the service of society, which is also the undergirding value of the Medical School.

“If one looks at the education sector, especially higher education, we are faced with a number of challenges, at regional, national, and international levels. One of the critical questions that is coming out is why do universities exist? What’s the point of having universities? What’s the role of universities in communities and what do universities bring to communities?” said Prof Zingela, explaining the need for the CAB.

“If one juxtaposes those questions with the formation of this medical school, which is a new addition within the Faculty of Health Sciences at Nelson Mandela University, one wonders how we can answer these questions.

"We could be like the rest of the world and be inward looking, and ignore what is happening regionally, nationally, and internationally. However, if we took that approach, we would come short of key deliverables as Nelson Mandela University, that we prize when we talk about the role we play in society, and that is the role of community engagement.”

“If we are serious about community engagement, we owe it to ourselves and our community to ensure that we have a foothold in the community, not only in terms of our presence, but in terms of our ear and the ability to listen. This is one of the many reasons why we needed a community advisory board.”

Mandela University’s Medical School, which has been operational since 2021, was established with a community orientation in mind and aimed at producing fit-for-purpose professionals who also learn in the communities that they will serve once qualified.

“The Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery degree aims to train caring, competent, and committed medical doctors, who will work as members of interprofessional teams to practice primary healthcare in holistic, culturally sensitive and comprehensive way.

The curriculum is intentionally structured to be community-orientated and the medical school is poised to engage with the community, to facilitate transformative learning, while simultaneously striving to meet the needs of the communities they serve,” said Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Learning and Teaching, Dr Muki Moeng, in a video message.

To enhance the sustainability of this learning and teaching model, the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) recommended the establishment of a Community Advisory Board during the first evaluation visit of the medical programme to strengthen community ownership and protectiveness about the programme.

The CAB will provide a formalised support mechanism to the Medical School by bringing together a diversity of insights to enable better programme outcomes. It is intentionally conceptualised to seek and include the voices of the community as agents of change and as valued, active participants in society.

In its supportive role, the CAB will provide the Medical programme with a broader understanding of local knowledge, values and needs, and influence how these not only inform the programme direction but also the response to the needs. The CAB will also strengthen communication and reporting between the community and the University.

Speaking of his role as chairperson of the CAB, Dr Govender likened it to walking a journey with no map. However, armed with the institutional knowledge gained from serving on the University Council for many years, he brings with him a deep understanding of Mandela University’s strategic intent.

“I’ve seen how the University thinks and operates its vision and how it feels it should engage with society. This has been repeated many times by the different leaders, academics, members of Council and so forth, and here we are with a relatively new medical school actually walking the talk in terms of that,” he said.

“It is easy to talk about it, but it takes something else to put structures in place to say, ‘this is how we action it’. So, I thought about our role as the CAB and mine as the chairperson in walking a journey in which I don’t think there is a template. So, the way that I interpret my role is that I will drawing from the wisdom of the board and the beautiful diversity of the skills and geographic representation, and also draw from the inside [the institution] so that we are able to marry the academia, connect with the community and see how we then engage and contribute to the academic programme.”

The CAB will be located within the Medical School and will work together with other advisory structures of the Faculty of Health Sciences and the University. Its operation will be guided by the institutional policy on community advisory boards and the broader strategic goals of the Medical School, the Faculty of Health Sciences, and the University.

Contact information
Ms Zandile Mbabela
Media Manager
Tel: 0415042777
Zandile.Mbabela@mandela.ac.za