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WSU to play critical role in revolutionary healthcare endevours

09 July 2014, 14:19

Walter Sisulu University (WSU) could play a starring role in a revolutionary joint venture aimed at improving the quality of healthcare in communities of the Eastern Cape.

In an unprecedented move to enhance the country’s efforts in confronting the scourge of HIV/Aids, TB and hypertension, the University has joined hands with the Norwegian non-governmental organisation Luke International (LIN), as well as Taiwan ICDF (International Cooperation and Development Fund) in a concerted effort to strengthen and integrate the region’s Health Management Information Systems.

As part of on-going deliberations and engagements that started at the beginning of this year, WSU recently hosted a team of delegates from LIN and Taiwan ICDF who recently visited the Eastern Cape on a three-day appraisal mission to gauge the state of healthcare in Mthatha and the surrounding rural areas.

“In line with its commitment to service, relevant research and teaching, WSU works with LIN to coordinate a collaborative project on health services improvement, identify innovations, test them and document them in our context. This includes setting up exchange programmes, twinning partnerships, health information systems development and research development,” said Faculty of Health Sciences Acting Deputy Dean Dr Wezile Chitha.

Chitha said the key focus of this endeavour is to improve hospitals’ capacity to follow-up on mobile populations with HIV/AIDS, TB and hypertension. The project, which will see costs running in excess of R42 million, is designed to reduce default rates and increase patient survival rates by initiating activities to strengthen health management information systems.

Furthermore, the project will aim to provide services and information to mobile populations by completing the mapping out of migrant friendly hospitals, build capacity for tracking mobile populations and creating a care network by training health information coaches.

“This project will also seek to advocate health promotion issues among cross-border patients and mobile populations by using data from the health information systems, conducting research studies about cross-border patients, and form a designated unit to partner with South Africa at a decision-making level,” added Chitha.

The partnership is envisaged to have a lot of positive, long-term spinoffs for the University; including the building and housing of health information labs, health informatics training and  research, international exposure to the best healthcare practices worldwide, and collaborations with the Southern African Development Community body.

“There’ll also be a student exchange programme, fellowship programme for medical registrars and junior specialists and PHC project. This initiative will indeed change the face of healthcare delivery in the Eastern Cape,” said Chitha.

The rollout of the project is expected to be complete in 2016.

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