'If we want to get doctors to rural areas, they must be trained in rural areas'

Massionvale in the Eastern Cape will open the Nelson Mandela University medical school in 2020.

This university will have far-reaching consequences for the community as well as the province and the country.

To shine the spotlight on the medical school, Eusebius McKaiser chats to the medical school's faculty of health sciences dean Professor Lungile Pepeta, Maverick Citizen journalist Estelle Ellis and Stellenbosch University’s Ukwanda Rural Clinical School director Professor Ian Cooper.

Ellis says the school is situated in Missionvale, a poor area in Port Elizabeth.

It is a very violent area and there is a lot of crime there. If you ever want to see a building without food in the cupboard, you must go to Missionvale. People there are incredibly poor.

Estelle Ellis, Journalist - Maverick Citizen

There is so much symbolism around the establishment of a medical school in Missionvale, she says.

RELATED: South Africa needs more medical schools, says Wits professor

It is so exciting that you can put a medical school there and hopefully it will be a new spot for the community.

Estelle Ellis, Journalist - Maverick Citizen

Pepeta says placing the medical school in Missionvale is because the university needed to be socially relevant.

Having grown up in the rural Bizana, he says it was important for him to be part of the new medical school.

I always wanted to go back and change society and since my area of practice is in medical, I chose to train physicians at this medical school.

Professor Lungile Pepeta, Faculty of health sciences dean - Nelson Mandela University medical school

Cooper says international evidence suggests that to make a difference in where people work, is about who is selected and where those selected get to work.

In other words, if we want to get more doctors and graduates into rural areas, we need to train them in rural areas. The current models of training doctors in big city hospitals mean that those doctors are not equipped when they need to work in rural areas.

Professor Ian Cooper, Director - Stellenbosch University’s Ukwanda Rural Clinical School

He says context is critical when doctors are being trained.

If you train people in one context, it is difficult for them to use their knowledge and skills in different contexts.

Professor Ian Cooper, Director - Stellenbosch University’s Ukwanda Rural Clinical School

Listen below to the full conversation:


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