Intervention where it matters

Finalist
Investing in the Future Education Award
Discovery Foundation

The Discovery Foundation is investing more than R100-million over a 10-year period to address the severe shortage of skilled medical professionals in South Africa and expects at least 300 medical specialists to qualify as a result. Since its establishment in 2006, the foundation has donated more than R62-million in awards to 146 recipients, including several organisations working in public healthcare. In 2011 alone it gave R22-million to 29 recipients.

The foundation specifically targets women and previously disadvantaged people, particularly those who live in rural areas. It is all about extending Discovery’s philosophy of “making people healthier”. “Our research showed us that not enough people were being trained to fill the gaps, even though the government had started to address the issue,” said Andronica Masemola, a senior specialist at the foundation.

In its first five years, the foundation contributed to academic and clinical research and sub-specialist training in healthcare focus areas such as tuberculosis, HIV/Aids, neuropsychiatry, kidney disease, pneumonia, paediatrics and cervical cancer. Masemola said the foundation believed in the “multiplier effect”, citing the Centre for Rural Health as one of its success stories. In 2008, the centre received R1-million for the University of the Witwatersrand’s “rural health in education” project.

Students from rural backgrounds were selected in consultation with universities, districts and local communities to study medicine. Once trained, they would return to their home districts to work on a year-by-year basis in exchange for their study loans. Fifty-seven students are now benefiting from the programme, studying medicine, occupational therapy and nursing.

The foundation maintains a close relationship with its benificiaries and encourages them to learn from each other. Every year it hosts the Discovery Foundation Alumni Conference, which brings recipients together to share experiences, inspiration and challenges. “In this way the foundation hopes to strengthen the academic medicine knowledge base in South Africa,” said Masemola.

Monitoring and evaluation are also important and trustees meet regularly to review the foundation’s ­progress. Recipients are expected to submit written reports at various stages of their studies. Masemola said the foundation had extensive contact with universities, health science faculties and the medical fraternity to review the relevance of awards, obtain feedback and encourage more applications.

The statistics are impressive. To date the Discovery Foundation has helped to fill 12% of the sub-specialist positions in South African hospitals. But there was still a long way to go, said Masemola, because medical education was a long and expensive process.

The judges praised the comprehensiveness of the programme and its constant evaluation. They said the foundation was making an ­invaluable contribution to nation-building by addressing the shortage of medical professionals.

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.


The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Advertising

Inside Facebook’s big bet on Africa

New undersea cables will massively increase bandwidth to the continent

No back to school for teachers just yet

Last week the basic education minister was adamant that teachers will return to school on May 25, but some provinces say not all Covid-19 measures are in place to prevent its spread

Engineering slips out of gear at varsity

Walter Sisulu University wants to reprioritise R178-million that it stands to give back to treasury after failing to spend it

Lockdown relief scheme payouts to employees tops R14-billion

Now employers and employees can apply to the Unemployment Insurance Fund for relief scheme payments
Advertising

Press Releases

Covid-19 and Frontline Workers

Who is caring for the healthcare workers? 'Working together is how we are going to get through this. It’s not just a marathon, it’s a relay'.

PPS webinar Part 2: Small business, big risk

The risks that businesses face and how they can be dealt with are something all business owners should be well acquainted with

Call for applications for the position of GCRO executive director

The Gauteng City-Region Observatory is seeking to appoint a high-calibre researcher and manager to be the executive director and to lead it

DriveRisk stays safe with high-tech thermal camera solution

Itec Evolve installed the screening device within a few days to help the driver behaviour company become compliant with health and safety regulations

Senwes launches Agri Value Chain Food Umbrella

South African farmers can now help to feed the needy by donating part of their bumper maize crop to delivery number 418668

Ethics and internal financial controls add value to the public sector

National treasury is rolling out accounting technician training programmes to upskill those who work in its finance units in public sector accounting principles

Lessons from South Korea for Africa’s development

'Leaders can push people through, through their vision and inspiration, based on their exemplary actions'

Old Mutual announces digital AGM

An ambitious plan to create Africa’s biggest digital classroom is intended to address one of the continent’s biggest challenges — access to education

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday