Health Minister to launch the Clinical Associate Programme
14 August 2008
Health Minister Dr Manto Tshabalala-Msimang will on Monday, 18 August 2008, launch the Clinical Associate Programme in Umthata as part of the Department of Health's strategy to address the human resources shortages in the public health sector.
This new programme, conceived after a long process of consultations and extensive international studies will see the department working together with medical schools of the country's universities to produce mid-level health workers within the context and guidelines of these schools and the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) qualified to perform physical examinations, diagnostic and therapeutic procedures, interpreting findings and formulating a diagnosis for common and emergency conditions amongst others. The programme is not a replacement of any existing medical training offered in the country's universities, but is instead aimed at enabling the universities to produce increased numbers of health workers and thus add to the pool and diversity of the country's health work force.
The Minister of Health will be joined at the launch by the MEC of Health in the Eastern Cape, deans of faculties, representatives of international donor funding organisations and the first cohort of students enrolled at the Walter Sisulu University (formerly UNITRA).
Members of the media are invited to cover the launch of this first programme in the country scheduled to take place as follows:
Date: 18 August 2008
Venue: Umthata Health Resources Centre (Corner Sisson and Nelson Mandela
Clinical associate programme
Rationale: To address the shortage of health professionals in the country and thus respond to the country's health needs and improve primary healthcare.
Process: Decision taken at the MINMEC (National Health Council) in December 2002 to introduce a cadre of midlevel worker in the country.
A delegation made of officials from the Department of Health and the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) embarks on a study tour to understand the midlevel health worker concept, the training and utilization thereof.
Countries visited: United States and Tanzania.
In the USA: They are referred to as Physician Assistants - PAs.
They were developed in the 1960s as a strategy to respond to shortages of doctors in rural areas. PAs were initially focused on primary healthcare but later started to work in other medical specialities. In primary healthcare, PAs work with a team of family physicians and nurse practitioners. Training programmes are offered at medical schools.
In Tanzania: They are referred to as Medical Assistants – MA, developed as a response to shortages post independence. The country has three categories of this cadre of health workers: Rural Medical Aid, Clinical Officer and Assistant Medical Officer. Training is overseen by the Tanzanian Department of Health.
South Africa – Current situation: Implementation
Programme commenced in January 2008 at the Walter Sisulu University (formerly UNITRA).
Other participating universities: Pretoria, Witwatersrand and Limpopo (MEDUNSA).
Upon completion of three-year bachelor degree the Bachelor of Clinical Medical Practice (B.CMP) will be awarded. Registration of qualified clinical associate will rest with the Medical and Dental Board of the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA).
Clinical training will be conducted in district hospitals and affiliated facilities in line with the strategy of strengthening primary healthcare amongst others. Scope of practice is defined by the context and requirements of district hospitals with focus on emergency care, skilled clinical procedure and in-patient care.
Funding partners: Department for International Development (DFID); Coega Development Corporation (CDC); European Union (EU); World Health Organisation (WHO).
Department of Health to fund the programme through the provision of bursaries covering tuition and student books amongst others.
For more information please contact:
Tel: 012 312 0663
Cell: 079 517 3333
Issued by: Department of Health
14 August 2008