UWC Public Health Winter School Addresses Health Needs

Staff Writer | The Republic Mail

By Cue Sibiya

The University of the Western Cape (UWC) School of Public Health celebrated the 25th year of its annual Winter School, run over three weeks in June and July.

The Winter School attracts a wide range of audiences, largely people within the health services, but also researchers, community health practitioners and health activists.

Each year community health practitioners, and those involved with research and academic work, take a break from their busy schedules to be exposed to the latest thinking in Public Health. The programme enables them to discuss and exchange ideas on improved planning and implementation of Primary Health Care in the continually changing environment of the developing world.

To date, some 12 000 participants – mainly nurses and middle level managers – have attended these courses from all over South Africa and many other African countries.

Nosi Kalawe, a HAST (HIV/Aids, STIs and TB) Medical Officer with the Western Cape Department of Health attended the Rational Medicines Use (RMU) course at the Winter School. “It’s been very relevant to what I’m doing,” she says. “I wanted to develop skills to help me supervise better, and also to be able to evaluate medical use – and that’s what I did.”

Asiphe Ketelo is an on-campus Public Health student who participated in the Monitoring and Evaluation of Health and Development Programmes. “It was a great experience for me, meeting health professionals who work directly with communities. I’m so much more motivated to start my career in this field. It gave me a clear picture of what health professionals do and the difficulties they encounter, such as the lack of resources, which has been a consistent challenge. There are so many health problems facing communities today.”

According to Prof Uta Lehmann, Director of the SOPH, the Winter School continues to be true to the original vision of Jakes Gerwel and others who, in 1991, stated that the short courses and academic programme were “essential to transform the South African healthcare systems into a community-participative PHC service”.

Most courses are one week long to allow busy health workers receive continuing education with minimal disruption of their services.  The success of these courses lies in their relevance – and many students return to Winter School to take up other courses; or enrol in the public health post-graduate programme at UWC.

For more information contact Harriet Box on 072 266 4760 or hbox@uwc.ac.za or 021 959 9566