Collaborative relationships between the Western Cape’s Department of Health and higher education institutions such as the University of the Western Cape (UWC) is the reason why this province’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic over the past 19 months has been “world-class”, says Western Cape Premier, Alan Winde.
UWC Dean of the Faculty of Community and Health Sciences (CHS) Prof Anthea Rhoda, Stellenbosch University Vice-Chancellor Prof Wim de Villiers, UCT Vice-Chancellor Prof Mamokgethi Phakeng, Premier Alan Winde, MEC for Health Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, CPUT Executive Director Prof Driekie Hay-Swemmer and Head of the Health Department in the Western Cape, Dr Keith Cloete.
Speaking at today’s formal tabling of the Department of Health’s bilateral agreements with the University of Cape Town, Stellenbosch University, UWC and the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Winde said he hoped these relationships could be replicated in the education and economic sectors as well.
“What underpins the accomplishment we have highlighted today is the need to work together and the importance of taking a whole of society approach. These agreements will serve to strengthen what is already a very impressive, agile, innovative and well-run public healthcare system in the Western Cape.”
Keith Cloete, Head of the Western Cape’s Department of Health, hailed the tabling of the four bilateral agreements that have been signed individually over the past 18 months as a “milestone moment”. The collaborative process was started in May 2012 when the Department signed a historic collective multilateral agreement with the institutions. The bilateral agreements are based on 12 foundational principles that guide equitable student access to the health service platform, ensure the fair allocation of human resources and funding and provide clear organisational and governance arrangements.
“The Western Cape Department of Health and the four Higher Education Institutions recognise the mutually beneficial interdependencies of a relationship established to render a health service, to educate and train health professionals and to undertake health-related research and commit themselves to the continuation and strengthening of their relationship,” said Cloete.
Professor Anthea Rhoda, Dean of the Faculty of Community and Health Sciences at UWC, acknowledged the university’s long standing relationship with the Department of Health through specific programmes with the Faculty of Community and Health Sciences, Faculty of Dentistry and the School of Pharmacy. UWC has also supported the province’s vaccination drive with a vaccination centre on campus. “Each of the universities who have signed the bilateral agreements brings a unique contribution. COVID has shown us that we cannot work in silos. We need to partner with other higher education institutions to be more effective.” UWC Rector and Vice-Chancellor Professor Tyrone Pretorius added: “We are pleased that this long process has been positively concluded.”
UCT Vice-Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng said today’s milestone was about modelling good practice. “We are pleased to be part of this shared mandate of education, research and service.”
Professor Wim de Villiers, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of Stellenbosch University, said: “Tough times call for mustering all resources, not only in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, but to strive towards optimal health and wellness for all. Collaboration would be key in this regard.”
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