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Change the world

26/11/2021

There is so much more we can do to improve the health, quality of life and lifespan of everyone in SA, and, at the same time, achieve a better return from public health spend.

We are confident that Nelson Mandela University ’ s new medical school will help us achieve this and that, once it is up and running, the health services platform throughout the Eastern Cape will improve.

The official launch on Tuesday November 30 in Gqeberha is historic as we look forward to collaborating with all our partners, internally and externally, in producing fit-for-purpose, service orientated and civic-minded medical professionals committed to making a difference in the lives of the disadvantaged.

The programme is unique in SA as its comprehensive primary healthcare approach focuses on the four pillars of medicine: Disease prevention, health promotion, treatment and rehabilitative medicine.

This strong communitybased ethos aims to develop socially conscious medical doctors who can compete globally, but who also have a deep passion to change the lives of poor communities.

We thank our country’s other medical schools, their researchers and practitioners for their collaboration, which contributed greatly to our curriculum design.

We plan to continue to work together in finding solutions and innovations.

It has been intense to fulfil the requirements of launching a medical school at our Missionvale Campus in Gqeberha.

The infrastructure includes lecture halls, laboratories for physics, chemistry, physiology and anatomy, and more than 60 offices for medical school staff members.

We are also partnering with several provincial and district hospitals, like the nearby Dora Nginza Regional Hospital, and associated clinics.

Our initial intake of first year MBChB students has largely been matriculants with strong pass rates in maths, physical science, life science and English.

Next year, our intake will increase to 80 first-years, and demand for placement has been high with more than 5,500 applications.

In terms of staffing, we have received and continue to receive CVs from all over SA, and internationally from doctors, specialists and professionals, wanting to be part of the medical school.

One of the first appointments in 2019 was the director of the medical programme, Prof Mfanufikile Nomvete — a gastroenterologist from Livingstone Hospital and former head of its internal medicine department.

While the human and capital investment for the new medical school is significant, so will the returns be for public health and research.

Our university pursues transdisciplinary scholarship and research, and one of the alignments is a partnership between our faculty of health sciences and our faculty of engineering, the built environment and technology (EBET) in the medical device and biomedical engineering field.

EBET’s advanced engineering design group is involved in the development of intelligent prosthetics to assist people with limited mobility, while the virtual reality domain presents another great local opportunity.

In line with our holistic approach, we are strongly pursuing community engagement.

We believe the best approach to medical education, the practice of medicine and healthcare service delivery is one that engages the agency of our served communities.

We will partner with these communities to build on their efforts to be informed about the drivers of disease, and to pursue preventive approaches to health and wellness.

One of the key strategic growth areas for both the institution and the surrounding community, the medical school is being intentionally and collectively driven on the

Missionvale Campus as part of its pursuit of social justice and inclusive access to good healthcare.

We are encouraged by, and fully embrace, the suggestion and advice of the Health Professions Council of SA that we constitute an outward facing advisory board to guide and enable our medical programme delivery, and to ensure it stays true to its promise.

Through Vision 2030, Mandela University reaffirms its commitment to change the world through student-centric educational opportunities, innovative research and transformative engagement that contribute to a better life for all.

With social justice at its core, we hope our new medical school is set to forever change the healthcare landscape of SA and the lives of those we serve.

This article appeared in The Herald (South Africa) on 26 Nov 2021 written by Prof Sibongile Muthwa, Vice-Chancellor of Nelson Mandela University

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