The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health and UKZN’s College of Health Sciences recently hosted an Indaba to discuss the roll out of a pilot project on the Decentralised Clinical Training Platform (DCTP) in the province.
The DCTP aims to transform the curriculum to ensure that it produces ‘fit for purpose’ health professionals serving the needs of all communities in KwaZulu-Natal and not just those in the main metropolitan areas. The programme is centered around a primary health care curriculum in line with the National Health Insurance.
Another component of the DCTP is to ensure a steady increase in the student intake in the College of Health Sciences thereby increasing the number of health care professionals in the province. The DCTP will also accommodate the returning 300 Cuban-trained medical doctors who arrive in 2018 to complete their final clinical year of training.
‘The programme will ensure the alignment of the health sciences professional curriculum with Primary Health Care that has a focus on disease prevention and health promotion – as opposed to a curative, hospital-centric approach,’ said Professor Fanie Botha, Director of Professional Services in the CHS.
‘A number of students, including those who will be returning from Cuba will be placed in the decentralised training sites which include Ngwelezane, Port Shepstone, Madadeni and Stanger. This will also assist in the increased intake of medical and health sciences students in the near future.’
Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of College, Professor Rob Slotow, said: ‘Since its inception in January 2015, the programme has proven to be an invaluable catalyst for the continuous up-skilling of medical and health sciences students who have been placed in various district hospitals throughout the province as opposed to the previous approach where training was concentrated in the metropolitan areas of the eThekwini and Msunduzi municipalities.’
The DCTP is currently being pioneered in the Lower Umfolozi District and Port Shepstone with plans to expand to Madadeni/Newcastle and Stanger in 2017.
Speaking at the function Dental Therapy students Ms Silondiwe Manyoni, Ms Ncebakazi Tutu, Ms Kumeshnie Archary and Ms Stephanie Kock said: ‘This is a noble programme. It has provided us with the opportunity to reach out to the poorest of the poor and to treat raw pathologies, something we’re not exposed to in the city.
‘We’d like to thank Ngwelezane Hospital clinical staff for being knowledgeable. They treated patients with respect and were very efficient. They practiced Ubuntu according to the Batho Pele principles.’
Optometry students Ms Raeesa Dada and Mr Lutvier Ebrahim presented on their experiences. ‘We felt that the DCTP provided a rich and rewarding experience for us. It was the first time that many of us lived together and we managed to build a strong community, learning about each other’s cultures as students but also more about the patients who reside in these areas. What impressed us was that the patients were extremely grateful for the treatment they received and we learnt a lot from them about the needs of the community.’
Ms Phumelele Yeni and Ms Rachel Wilson presented on behalf of the fifth year Medical class based in Pietermaritzburg for an entire year and rotated through Lower Umfolozi War Memorial Hospital and Ngwelezane Hospital.
They said: ‘We support the DCTP but faced many challenges this year due to the lack of wifi in our residences, the lack of a resource centre, and some residences based too far from the shops with no transport.’ The students further pleaded with management that the final year class should not be based in the DCTP.
Responding to the students, MEC for Health in KwaZuluNatal, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, expressed appreciation at the progress made thus far. ‘We want to acknowledge UKZN for initiating this platform and for being the first of its kind in the country. It was presented at parliament and applauded by all. We are certainly proud of the DCTP which we hope will be rolled out nationally.
‘We want this programme to work not only for our sake but for that of the country as well. Where there are gaps, let’s work together to close them and be mindful that this is a process.’
Meanwhile, KwaZulu-Natal’s Head of Health Dr Sifiso Mtshali allayed fears that final year Medical students may not be allocated space for internship training next year.
‘All of them will be allocated space to complete their internships. Internship training is part of career development for medical doctors and it is not in government’s plans to halt this,’ he said.