Plan to spark better neuro help

2015-05-05 06:00

A major neurosciences initiative from UCT’s faculty of health sciences will bring together clinicians and ­researchers from a range of specialities.

It has the aim of fostering collaboration in the treatment of a number of neurological disorders, including stroke, central nervous system infection and trauma.

The initiative was launched on Monday 23 March in partnership with Groote ­Schuur Hospital.

Dr Bhavna Patel, CEO of Groote Schuur Hospital, says it is proud to be a part of this initiative in providing a clinical neuroscience service to its patients.

“We would like to thank UCT for the contribution to this hospital facility, which will be world renowned in clinical service, teaching and research. Our partnership can only grow in strength going forward,” she says.

An ideal site has been identified at Groote Schuur Hospital which will be developed to include the academic departments of key neuroscience disciplines, laboratories, a neuroimaging facility and highly specialised, multidisciplinary clinics, which will complement and enhance the existing clinical activities at Groote Schuur.

The initiative will advance care and transform research and teaching in the neurosciences in Africa by bringing together an array of expertise in neurosurgery, neurology, neuropsychology, neuropsychiatry and neuroimaging.

There will also be partnerships with other disciplines such as engineering, the arts and disability studies, creating a facility where patients can get the highest quality of care and the most cutting-edge treatment options.

Prof Gregory Hussey, interim dean of the faculty of health sciences, says neurosciences is the new frontier of medical research at UCT.

“Through this initiative, we aim to make a contribution not only in South Africa, but in Africa and globally. The initiative will address the needs of our continent’s people and open new ways for Africa to contribute to the global body of knowledge in this rapidly ­advancing field,” he says.

The vision of the neurosciences initiative has been made real through a R25m donation from UCT alumni David and Ursel Barnes. Fundraising will continue to finance the development of this state-of-the-art facility.

Prof Graham Fieggen, head of the division of neurosurgery, says the majority of people suffering from common neurological disorders “live in low- and middle-income countries”.

“There is a need to understand these disorders within the context of our own continent. We cannot simply import models from the North,” he says.

Prof Danie Visser, deputy vice-chancellor of UCT, adds that UCT “is excited” that this initiative will integrate the laboratory, clinic and community, so that clinicians and ­researchers can collaborate to offer rapid translation of contemporary treatment options

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