The Nelson Mandela University has announced that it will establish the 10th medical school in the country.
The medical school will be located at its Missionvale Campus in Port Elizabeth. The campus is in proximity to Dora Nginza Hospital and a number of clinics.
The institution has received a go-ahead from the SA Qualifications Authority (SAQA) to offer the MBChB (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) qualification.
“It gives me the greatest pleasure to announce that Nelson Mandela University has received the final approval to offer the MBChB in the country’s 10th medical school and the Eastern Cape’s second, with effect from the 2021 academic year,” said vice-chancellor Prof Sibongile Muthwa.
“I wish to extend a hearty word of gratitude and appreciation to everybody in the university community, and beyond, who has played a crucial role in making our dream for a medical school a reality.”
Muthwa said the final accreditation came at a “significant” time, as the country grappled with the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic that had placed even greater pressure on the health system.
The university said it would open applications from January 6 for its first cohort of students.
“The collaborative engagements with our colleagues at Walter Sisulu University (WSU) and the support we have had from all the other medical schools across the country enabled us to be ready to launch the new, unique medical programme successfully,” said deputy vice-chancellor for learning and teaching Prof Cheryl Foxcroft.
“We look forward to collaborating with all our partner institutions, provincially and nationally, in producing fit-for-purpose, service-oriented and civic-minded medical professionals committed to making a difference in the lives of the disadvantaged,” she said.
The medical school is set to enrol its first intake in March.
According to the university, the qualification offered will be a six-year MBChB degree that will produce graduates who are competent to work as interns in SA hospitals.
“The university will be using an innovative, transformative, distributive teaching model that will see students come together to study across health science disciplines and leverage the benefits of technology — all towards their service to society, especially within the metro,” said the institution.
The institution said the medical school will in future help address the shortage of qualified health professionals, stating that 65% of all public doctors’ posts are vacant and there is only one doctor to every 4,230 people in the Eastern Cape.
The university lost its executive dean in the faculty of health sciences, Prof Lungile Pepeta, to Covid-19 in August. At his funeral, Muthwa said the paediatric cardiologist was at the forefront of bringing the medical school to fruition. Colleague and friend Dr Mthembeni Tebelele said “even while in ICU, he was still communicating about the medical school. That’s how passionate Lungile was about the health of the child and making a difference in the province.”