University of Pretoria introduces a new generation of health professionals in South Africa

Posted on December 12, 2011

As the Health Services in South Africa is currently struggling to deal with an enormous burden of disease and is in dire need of more professional health care workers, the introduction of the Clinical Associates in various health districts, mostly in rural areas, will ease the burden and improve on the services provided by the health care system.

The training of the clinical associates was coordinated by the Department of Family Medicine in the School of Medicine, which is also responsible for the training of medical doctors and specialists. The students who have completed the BCMP degree will register as clinical associates with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA). Clinical associates are a new category of health care workers who will work alongside doctors and will be supervised by them.

For the BCMP three-year programme, the students were recruited from disadvantaged rural areas from Mpumalanga, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal. The students had to meet the provincial requirements for full funding, and their study fees were paid in full as soon as they commenced the programme. The BCMP students from the University of Pretoria have received extensive training in various district hospitals in Mpumalanga, Free State and Gauteng provinces.

The significance of this graduate class is that the clinical associates will be filling the gap that has been caused by the shortage of doctors in district hospitals. The South Africa Military Health Service (SAMHS) will also benefit by using clinical associates to help strengthen their medical teams.

The Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Pretoria, Professor Eric Buch, said the declaration made by the students should form the basis and the benchmark of their practices in a professional career. He urged the graduates to uphold the standards of a professional.

“As the first graduates of the University of Pretoria and the second in the whole country, the future of this profession will be determined by the excellence with which you practice and the standards which you set. The values which you profess is going to be the foundation and the benchmark of how people see your profession going into the future”, said Prof Buch.

Gauteng MEC for Health and Social Development Ntombi Mekgwe said the newly graduated Clinical Associates are expected to improve the health outcomes as outlined in the negotiated Service Delivery Agreements signed by the Minister of Health and the President of South Africa. The clinical associate will meet the following outcomes of the Service Delivery Agreements:

i) Increasing life expectancy

ii) Reduce maternal infant and child mortality

iii) Combatting HIV/AIDS and TB

iv) Strengthening the health system effectiveness

“As newcomers within the health care system, you will be joining us in addressing the outputs and to address the Millennium Development Growth. You come at the most exciting time in the South African health care system, where we will focus on the re-engineering of primary health care and the health system toward prevention and promotion of health”, said MEC Mekgoe.

The University of Pretoria is proud to have been a pioneer in the training of clinical associates in South Africa in a programme that meets international best practice. The University is also appreciative of the support it has received from the national and provincial health departments and from SAMHS, who also seconded some instructors to assist with the training.

We are also especially appreciative of the exemplary contribution made by a wide range of staff at the University and the staff of the hospitals where the clinical associates did their practical training.

Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, Prof Eric Buch address the graduates and the delegates at the Declaration Ceremony.

Brigadier-General, Snowy Moremi, from the South African Military Services congratulates Ms Ntswaki Kgosimere, who has completed her three year degree in Bachelor of Clinical Medical Practice. 

The first class of 2011 Bachelor of Clinical Medical Practice, at the University of Pretoria.


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