Clinical associates to boost rural health in North West
24 Apr 2012Relations between the Wits University Centre for Rural Health and the Department of Heath are now benefiting the people of North West Province. Eleven students recently received their Bachelor of Clinical Medical Practice degrees at University of Witwatersrand, in Johannesburg and are currently working in District Hospitals across the province. These new graduates will become mid-level health workers specifically created to address the country’s shortage of skilled health care professionals, especially in the rural areas.
The Clinical Associates are trained with doctors in a medical school to work with, assist and support doctors in their duties. They are being specifically trained to work in district hospitals, especially in rural district hospitals where there are not enough doctors.
The Lehurutshe/Zeerust Hospital Complex is proud to have two graduates, Tshegofatso Mpolokeng and Tshegofatso Senwelo based at the facility. Twenty-one year-old Senwelo, who originates from Ntsweletsoku, was also one of the top students of this class. Amidst the excitement at graduation, Senwelo said: “I feel very proud and very enthusiastic about the programme and I feel very honoured that I am one of the pioneers. I’ve always wanted to do something for my community. So, here I am, I have come to the end of the programme and I’m going into the field.”
“The Clinical Associates have a very defined scope of practice and they are to work within the district hospitals under the supervision of a qualified medical practitioner. At the Lehurutshe / Zeerust Hospital Complex this is not new as the graduates were also at this site for clinical rotations during their studies,” said Abigail Dreyer, Project Manager of the District Educational Campus at Lehurutshe. She said that in the last two years the sites has been a platform to facilitate teaching and learning for the Clinical Associate students, medical students and even foreign students.
The shortage of health care professionals is a national problem, but affects the poor and rural population the most. 65.1 % of the inhabitants in the North West Province live in rural areas with access to about 11 public sector doctors per 100 000 inhabitants, compared to 30 public sector doctors in average urban province. The clinical associates programme, the South Africa Cuba Medical Programme together with other interventions are projected to substantially reduce shortage of doctors and other health professionals in the long term.
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Issued by: North West Health
24 Apr 2012
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