Student residence a health trailblazer

2017-07-12 06:00
Prof. Gert van Zyl (left, dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences) and Prof. Francis Petersen (rector and vice-chancellor) of the University of the Free State. Photo: Charl Devenish

Prof. Gert van Zyl (left, dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences) and Prof. Francis Petersen (rector and vice-chancellor) of the University of the Free State. Photo: Charl Devenish

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A fully-fledged student residence has been opened in Trompsburg. This residence is part of the University of the Free State’s (UFS) Faculty of Health Science’s Rural Community Initiative.

It forms part of the faculty’s commitment to student and community development.

Located along the N1, Trompsburg is part of the Kopanong Local Municipality.

During 2016, a total of 324 fourth-year students each spent at least a week at primary health care facilities.

This was done on a community-based education and an inter-professional education platform in Trompsburg and Springfontein in the Kopanong Municipality.

The student residence was officially opened by Prof. Francis Petersen, rector and vice-chancellor of the UFS, and Prof. Gert van Zyl, dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences.

The goal of the Kopanang le Fodise (“Unite to Heal”) programme is to develop a community-centred collaborative framework for sustainable, holistic health care and social development, which is incorporated in the curricula of the faculty.

The newly-developed student residence has ten apartments which could each accommodate six individuals.

A housemaster resides on the premises and acts as manager of the facility.

All areas of the residence have WiFi and it also has a 24-hour security service.

“This programme was commissioned to fulfil a ­specific goal. We are connecting our students with the community.

“The support of everyone coming together caused this to develop from just a spark to a blaze,” said Dr René Botha, coordinator for community-based education and rural health in the faculty.

“This is an innovative project that has been able to bring health and healthrelated issues to the community.

“One of the UFS’s three focus areas is community engagement. This project is primarily focused on serving the community, but also on the academic element, which is student development,” said Petersen.

Petersen commended the project on being the first of its kind in the South African health sciences sector.

The platform will also be used for research purposes that will enrich the sector.

Petersen challenged the Kopanong community to give their input by answering two questions: “What is the UFS good at?” and “What is the UFS good for?”

“I am a dreamer and I have to reach, and if I reach, I reach for the stars,” said Van Zyl.

“Today we are very lucky, because we have grabbed that star.”

Van Zyl reminded the audience that they possess the power to change challenges into stars by approaching them with careful thought, planning, and motivation.

Van Zyl concluded by stating that the rural community initiative was for the community, and that the faculty was just the facilitator.

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