News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Sunday April 21st 2019

Province and universities scrap old apartheid health agreements


Four Western Cape Universities that train students to become health professionals have signed a multi-lateral agreement with the provincial Department of Health. This agreement will ensure the sharing of resources across all health platforms and the sharing of access to medical training facilities, amongst other things.

This initiative at last replaces the apartheid regime’s health agreements with provinces and universities.

The new multi-lateral agreement has been brokered between the provincial government, the University Stellenbosch (US), the University of Cape Town (UCT), the University of the Western Cape (UWC) and the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT).

Previously, there were at least 44 different agreements between the institutions, which have become outdated and irrelevant said Professor Craig Househam, the province’s Head of Health.

Speaking to journalists after the ceremonial signing of the multi-lateral agreements at Premier Helen Zille’s media room in Wale Street, Househam said that for instance the University of Stellenbosch’s joint agreement with the provincial government was put in place in 1971 while UCT’s dates back even further to 1926.

“The outdated agreements created different opinion on conflicts relating to funding and access to service platforms. There was trouble accessing training resources,” said Househam.

Thus, he said the 44 previous agreements were going to be consolidated into four agreements one for each University; the multi-lateral agreement would thus be an umbrella body, which sets out the terms of engagement.

US Vice Chancellor Professor Russel Botman said the multi-lateral agreement was not only important to the tertiary institutions but also to the people of Western Cape, adding that it had taken away the “inequalities that were there in the apartheid government”.

It’s not only an agreement between the province and the Universities but an agreement between the Universities themselves, said Dr Max Price, UCT’s Vice Chancellor.

Price said teaching staff who specialised in specific areas of Health education would be able to share their knowledge with students from other Universities who would not otherwise have had access to those courses at their own institutions.

He described how, in the past, the province would freeze existing teaching posts if funds were not available for them, which disrupted academic programmes, but the newly signed agreement compels the province to consult with the academic institutions before freezing any of their posts.

MEC for Health, Theuns Botha, said the multi-lateral agreement was required to govern the relationship between government and the institutions that prepare Health Science students for in clinical practice.

“Ultimately it (the multi-lateral agreement) provides mechanisms ensuring the parties together provide future health professions who have received excellent and relevant training, where student and research access is ensured whilst patients rights and patient safety are respected,” said Botha — Peter Luhanga

Tags: department of health, Dr Max Price, Helen Zille, Professor Craig Househam, Professor Russel Botman, the University of Cape Town (UCT), the University of the Western Cape (UWC) and the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), Theuns Botha, University Stellenbosch (US), Wale Street

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