Health commits to help medical school

2014-04-03 00:00

THE provincial Department of Health will take “urgent steps” to rectify the “crisis” situation at the University of KZN medical school.

This announcement follows a meeting between the UKZN’s College of Health Sciences Management and the Health Department on Tuesday. The meeting was called after a report in The Witness that the Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine was in crisis as a result of a breakdown in relationship with the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health (DoH).

The medical school previously had an arrangement with the department known as the the Joint Medical Establishment, which saw the department finance the salaries of many of the school’s teaching staff.

This relationship broke down seven years ago and negotiations to resurrect it proved unsuccessful. As a consequence the DoH has not funded posts at the UKZN medical school and many posts which have become vacant — including heads of department — are now frozen and unfilled.

This has had an impact on teaching standards and there are fears that undergraduate and post-graduate courses could lose their accreditation from the Health Professions Council of South Africa. According to a statement issued by Lesiba Seshoka, UKZN’s executive director: Corporate Relations, at the meeting the DoH “committed to take necessary urgent steps to rectify the situation.”

Seshoka said that Health Department HOD Dr Sibongile Zungu also “thanked UKZN for the new directions it has taken in health sciences training in the province and has welcomed recommendations to ensure the continuation of teaching”.

To date there has been no response from the Health Department to questions regarding the funding issues sent to their spokesperson last week and on Monday of this week.

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