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New centre to revolutionise heart health for all

Dr Philip Herbst (SUNHEART) explains to Western Cape Minister of Health, Mr Theuns Botha, the typical echocardiograph performed on school children in the 'Echo in Africa' project.

A state-of-the-art angiogram facility recently launched at Stellenbosch University (SU) and the Tygerberg Hospital’s Division of Cardiology, is set to alleviate cardiac care bottle necks in the Western Cape and advance heart health in the region.

The multi-million rand radial suite is the first on the African continent to offer radial angiography, which allows patients to have coronary angiograms and stents via accessing a small blood vessel in the arm rather than having to puncture the large blood vessels in the groin. This improvement on the standard approach of looking at the heart’s blood vessels has markedly increased the safety of the procedure and the comfort to the patient, and will allow patients to be admitted and discharged on the same day.

2 000 children screened for heart disease

 

The Division of Cardiology’s SUNHEART initiative partnered with the British Society of Echocardiography for the “Echo in Africa” project. A total of 2 000 school children from Ravensmead and Khayelitsha have been screened at the Tygerberg Hospital for signs of early heart disease, particularly rheumatic heart disease.

Click here to watch a video for more information on the project.

Video by Wilma Stassen

 

New centre to revolutionise heart health for all

Dr Philip Herbst (SUNHEART) explains to Western Cape Minister of Health, Mr Theuns Botha, the typical echocardiograph performed on school children in the 'Echo in Africa' project.

A state-of-the-art angiogram facility recently launched at Stellenbosch University (SU) and the Tygerberg Hospital’s Division of Cardiology, is set to alleviate cardiac care bottle necks in the Western Cape and advance heart health in the region.

The multi-million rand radial suite is the first on the African continent to offer radial angiography, which allows patients to have coronary angiograms and stents via accessing a small blood vessel in the arm rather than having to puncture the large blood vessels in the groin. This improvement on the standard approach of looking at the heart’s blood vessels has markedly increased the safety of the procedure and the comfort to the patient, and will allow patients to be admitted and discharged on the same day.

“Not only are we looking at ‘business class coronary intervention’ in a state of the art facility, but radial angiography and stenting through our radial suite will also significantly reduce the need for an overnight hospital stay,” says Dr Hellmuth Weich, lead interventional cardiologist at the Division of Cardiology at SU’s Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS).

“In South Africa more than 50 000 patients annually require advanced cardiac care such as coronary angiography. Yet, many don’t have access to these procedures and are therefore denied potentially life-saving treatments including coronary stents. The first dedicated radial suite at the Division of Cardiology will see a significant increase in the number of patients we are able to treat,” says Dr Alfonso Pecoraro, consultant cardiologist in the Division and chairman of SUNHEART, a newly-established initiative of SU that strives towards equal access to advanced cardiac care for all patients.  

The investment in SUNHEART has seen the building of state-of-the art infrastructure at Tygerberg Hospital, resulting in an expansion of service delivery and improved workflow. This has meant redesigning the outpatient service, introducing paperless reporting systems as well as developing echocardiography imaging- and stress test services in the outpatient clinic itself for a “one-stop” service that will enhance the efficiency of this service and the experience that patients have.

The teaching and training activities at the unit have been boosted by the renovation of the lecture room, resulting in an ultra-modern lecture facility. Funded for the next year through sponsorship attracted via the SUNHEART platform, a Training Fellowship has been created. “Giving permanency to future fellowships and sorely needed training posts to address the acute shortage of skilled cardiac professionals on the continent is of utmost importance,” says Prof Anton Doubell, Head of the Division of Cardiology and director of SUNHEART.

In addition, further support for the improvement of service delivery by the unit comes in the form of an innovative outreach programme where consultants render a decentralised cardiology service at the referral hospitals in the area. This will improve the access of patients to advanced cardiac care in remote areas outside of Cape Town.  An important outcome of this program is the training of health care professionals at these referral hospitals.

“By investing in top quality personnel and through the building of strategic partnerships, this unit has firmly established itself as a cutting edge institution at the forefront of cardiology service delivery, training and research. SUNHEART is a success story that demonstrates what can be achieved through the building of public-private partnerships,” says Western Cape Minister of Health Theuns Botha. “Facilitating the building of partnerships between the public health sector and private funders is an important ingredient in healthcare planning for the future of South Africa.”  

“As we shift to a value-based healthcare culture, the need for innovative solutions that result in high-quality, cost-effective healthcare is more important than ever before. In an effort to improve and shape cardiac healthcare in South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa, we have invested in SUNHEART by providing the platform to train a significant number of cardiologists in radial techniques in these regions. This entails providing equipment, training workshops, hands-on support and our expertise in the African market and the cardiovascular business to ensure the sustainability of the unit,” says Medtronic South Africa Group Director, William Stranix, an investment partner in the new facility.

SUNHEART is actively investing in research and training aimed at the eradication of diseases that are locally relevant to the South African and African context. The first SUNHEART sponsored research project, Echo in Africa (EIA), was launched this year in collaboration with the British Society of Echocardiography (BSE).  EIA involves the screening of large numbers of school children for rheumatic heart disease (RHD). “This disease affects the heart valves of children and young adults and often goes unnoticed in the early phase of the condition. Finding and treating early cases can prevent further valve damage and we hope to impact the lives of these children through early intervention,” says Dr Philip Herbst, consultant cardiologist and imaging specialist at SU and Tygerberg Hospital. “This project is also an important research opportunity to learn more about RHD and how best to approach its diagnosis amongst large numbers of children. This will pave the way for future population based screening programs aimed at eradicating the condition”, Herbst said. More than 1500 children have been screened in the newly built EIA training and research facility in the first year of this 5-year project.

The Division of Cardiology of the FMHS and at Tygerberg Hospital has become the premier training facility for young cardiologists in South Africa and even further afield in Africa.  “The unit is a centre of excellence for radial angiography and percutaneous intervention, valvular heart disease, pericardial disease and advanced cardiac imaging and boasts an echocardiography training and service infrastructure that is world-class and unparalleled in Africa and South Africa,” says Prof Doubell.

A vision of equal access to advanced healthcare for all can only be achieved through a culture of collective responsibility. SUNHEART believes this culture already exists and through finding partners who share in its vision it will make an important contribution to the lives and health of patients.
 
Article and photographs by Wilma Stassen

 

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Biorepository for HIV-related cancers a boon to African researchers

Medical scientist Mr Dieter Geiger, assists in the biorepository lab.
Biospecimens are stored in either the -80 degree ultralow freezer, or the liquid nitrogen freezer that reaches -190 degrees Celsius.
Dr Mickey Sanderson, manager of the biorepository busy in the laboratory.

A multimillion rand biorepository where specimens for HIV-related cancers will be stored for research was recently opened by Stellenbosch University’s (SU) Division of Anatomical Pathology at Tygerberg Hospital.  

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) funded biorepository, known as the Sub-Saharan African Regional Biospecimen Repository, will process and store specimens according to best practices as determined by the International Society of Biological and Environmental Repositories (ISBER) and the NCI. The facility operates according to approved ethical standards and it complies with local and international regulatory and legal requirements.

 

Biorepository for HIV-related cancers a boon to African researchers

Dieter Geiger, medical scientist; Dr Mickey Sanderson, biorepository manager; Prof Sylvia Silver, from the Aids and Cancer Specimen Resource (ACSR); and Prof Johann Schneider, head of the Division of Anatomical Pathology at the liquid nitrogen freezer in the newly established Sub Saharan Africa District Biospecimen Repository.

A multimillion rand biorepository where specimens for HIV-related cancers will be stored for research was recently opened by Stellenbosch University’s (SU) Division of Anatomical Pathology at Tygerberg Hospital.  

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) funded biorepository, known as the Sub-Saharan African Regional Biospecimen Repository, will process and store specimens according to best practices as determined by the International Society of Biological and Environmental Repositories (ISBER) and the NCI. The facility operates according to approved ethical standards and it complies with local and international regulatory and legal requirements.

“One of the goals of the biorepository is to build capacity in Africa and stimulate research on HIV-related cancer that will benefit Africa and its people,” says Prof Johann Schneider, head of the Division of Anatomical Pathology at SU’s Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS). Specimens stored there will be made available free of charge to African researchers and their collaborators who have ethically approved and funded research projects that clearly demonstrate benefit to the health of people from Africa.

Research on HIV-related cancers is on the increase as people living with HIV are more prone to develop certain cancers, and these cancers also present differently in HIV-positive patients.

“It is a very important resource for HIV-malignancy in South Africa and Africa,” says Prof Sylvia Silver, from the George Washington University in the USA, who oversaw the installation of the biorepository on behalf of the AIDS and Cancer Specimen Resource (ACSR). “The biorepository will be run according to the NCI best practices to ensure the integrity of the specimens, and will lead to world class research on HIV-malignancies by researchers in Africa,” says Silver, who has been running biorepositories for two decades.

The biorepository laboratory can process a variety of specimens, such as tumours, fresh tissue, blood specimens, fine-needle aspirations and more, and it can be stored indefinitely in the minus 80 degree ultralow freezing facility, or the liquid nitrogen freezer. Emergency electricity, meticulous temperature monitoring, immediate response to any deviation from normal operation standards, as well as a continuity plan in case specimens have to be stored elsewhere, guarantee the integrity and quality of biospecimens.

Tissue micro arrays as well as molecular biology services, such as the extraction of DNA and RNA, will also be available at the biorepository. Researchers will also be able to store their specimens at the biorepository, regardless of whether it is related to cancer or HIV.

Biospecimens and clinical data are acquired from patients who give informed consent for the donation of their specimens for future research purposes. Specialised information technology and strict security measures are in place to ensure confidentiality and optimal management of data and to protect donor patients’ anonymity.

“Security is very important for patient confidentiality. All specimens are stored without identification and there is a sophisticated process of specimen number allocation to ensure that a patient’s identity cannot be linked to the specimen,” Schneider explains.

The Division of Anatomical Pathology received a grant to the value of R12.5 million from the NCI for the installation and management of the biorepository for a period of five years.

According to Schneider the value of the facility goes much further than the biorepository itself as it will directly contribute to improved quality of research that will benefit researchers and the wider public. The biorepository will provide a community outreach portal to involve and inform the public about the benefits of biobanking and the value of high quality research.

“The advantage that may come out of this type of research is directly related to Africa. And we believe that researchers and patients that donated the specimens, as well as the wider African population, will benefit from this,” says Schneider.

Tissue microarrays of Kaposi’s sarcoma from African patients are currently available to researchers who meet the requirements to access the specimens – for more information visit http://acsr.ucsf.edu/.

 

Article and photographs by Wilma Stassen

 

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Medical technologist's career ends on high note

Mr Dennis Francis (left) and Prof Bernd Rosenkranz sharing a light moment at his farewell function.

After 37 years at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS), Dennis Francis is leaving his post as medical technologist with the Division of Clinical Pharmacology to follow his true calling as pastor.

His career at Stellenbosch University (SU) ends on a high note after he presented his own research at the faculty’s 58th Annual Academic Day.
But it wasn’t an easy journey to get there.

Shortly after matriculating, Dennis left his home in the Buffelsjag River area near Swellendam and started working for the FMHS in 1977 as a messenger and cleaner in order to support his parents and four younger sisters. That year he was actually supposed to begin his studies at the Peninsula Technikon to become a health inspector – something he has dreamed of since childhood – but after his eldest brother was imprisoned in 1976 for his involvement in anti-apartheid activities, the responsibility fell on him to take care of his family.

Students honoured with Rector’s awards

Zahid Badroodien, Ishara Ramkissoon, Marguerite Foot, Hélène-Mari van der Westhuizen, Monique Rall, Prof Rafique Moosa, Annette Louw, Kerry Jean Maude Pilditch, Petrunet Zandberg (back), Chris-Maré Potgieter and Thandi Marie Hallinan.

Students of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences who excel in academics, community interaction and leadership as well as who excel in the face of adversity, were recently honoured by Stellenbosch University (SU).

These students received the annual Rector’s Awards for Outstanding Achievement during an event held at the Wallenberg Research Centre at the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study.

Prof Arnold Schoonwinkel (Vice-Rector: Learning and Teaching), said at the event: "Excellence is one of the main values of the University, something that we are always striving towards. And one way of ensuring that we achieve it, is by surrounding ourselves with outstanding people like you. I hope that these awards will serve as an inspiration, not only to you, but those you get in touch with."

 

Medical technologist's career ends on high note

Mr Dennis Francis (left) and Prof Bernd Rosenkranz sharing a light moment at his farewell function.

After 37 years at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS), Dennis Francis is leaving his post as medical technologist with the Division of Clinical Pharmacology to follow his true calling as pastor.

His career at Stellenbosch University (SU) ends on a high note after he presented his own research at the faculty’s 58th Annual Academic Day.
But it wasn’t an easy journey to get there.

Shortly after matriculating, Dennis left his home in the Buffelsjag River area near Swellendam and started working for the FMHS in 1977 as a messenger and cleaner in order to support his parents and four younger sisters. That year he was actually supposed to begin his studies at the Peninsula Technikon to become a health inspector – something he has dreamed of since childhood – but after his eldest brother was imprisoned in 1976 for his involvement in anti-apartheid activities, the responsibility fell on him to take care of his family.

“It was one of the saddest moments of my life, but I had faith, and my mom always said: ‘Child, you’ll get out on top’, and I held on to that,” says Dennis.

After 13 years as a messenger he decided to further his education to follow a career in medical technology. But for this farm boy, who spoke very little English and didn’t receive any maths or science training at the rural school he attended, the studies posed a major challenge – especially since he had to work nights and weekends to put bread on the table.

But in true Dennis style he simply forged ahead and received his diploma from the Cape Technikon in 1995, and thereafter started his career in medical technology. In the pharmacology laboratory where he worked blood and urine samples were tested for substances to identify illegal substance abuse, such as metamphetamine, dagga or cocaine, or to monitor the level of medical substances.

Although he gets a lot of satisfaction from his work, Dennis said the arrival of Prof Bernd Rosenkranz in 2008 really breathed new life into the division. It was also Prof Rosenkranz who that encouraged Dennis and other colleagues to do their own research projects.

“He made a real difference with the opportunities he gave us,” Dennis says of Prof Rosenkranz.

Dennis’ research project, which studied the use of methamphetamine in the Western Cape, was selected for an oral presentation at this year’s Annual Academic Day. “The presentation was the highlight of my career,” says Dennis, who can’t believe that someone who started as a cleaner could eventually address an audience of academics.

His research analysed laboratory tests for methamphetamine, or “Tik” as it is commonly known, over a period of eight years (2006 to 2013). He found that the demand for methamphetamine tests, as well as positive results of the test, increased sharply during the study period. Furthermore, it was also noted that there is a greater use of methamphetamine among men between the ages of 19 and 35 years.

“The project is very important as “Tik” is the most common substance of abuse in the Western Cape. It is highly addictive and has a negative impact on the central nervous system. That’s why the study results are so alarming,” says Dennis.

Apart from his research, he has also had first-hand experience with drugs and other community problems through his outreach work as pastor for the Saved Pentecostal Parish in Ravensmead.

It is this important work that Dennis is leaving the pharmacology laboratory for. “I’m very happy in my work at the faculty and if the calling wasn’t there I would have worked until retirement age,” says Dennis, who is going into fulltime preaching at the age of 56.

The head of the division of Clinical Pharmacology, Prof Rosenkranz, says that Dennis’ commitment and hard work will be sorely missed, but that they plan to work together on some community projects. “I was always very impressed with his work, as well as his commitment to the church. His success story is truly inspirational,” says Rosenkranz.

Article by Wilma Stassen
Photographs by John Lawrance

 

Students honoured with Rector’s awards

Zahid Badroodien, Ishara Ramkissoon, Marguerite Foot, Hélène-Mari van der Westhuizen, Monique Rall, Prof Rafique Moosa, Annette Louw, Kerry Jean Maude Pilditch, Petrunet Zandberg (back), Chris-Maré Potgieter and Thandi Marie Hallinan.

Students of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences who excel in academics, community interaction and leadership as well as who excel in the face of adversity, were recently honoured by Stellenbosch University (SU).

These students received the annual Rector’s Awards for Outstanding Achievement during an event held at the Wallenberg Research Centre at the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study.

Prof Arnold Schoonwinkel (Vice-Rector: Learning and Teaching), said at the event: "Excellence is one of the main values of the University, something that we are always striving towards. And one way of ensuring that we achieve it, is by surrounding ourselves with outstanding people like you. I hope that these awards will serve as an inspiration, not only to you, but those you get in touch with."

Rector’s Award for Outstanding Academic Achievement and SU-medal for Top Master’s student
•    Chris-Maré Potgieter
•    Petrunet Zandberg
•    Annette Louw
•    Kerry Jean Maude Pilditch
•    Thandi Marie Hallinan
•    Monique Rall
SU-medal for Top Master’s Student: Oluwatoyin Folashade Gbabe

Rector’s Award for Outstanding Community Interaction
•    Marguerite Foot

Rector’s Award for Outstanding Leadership
•    Zahid Badroodien
•    Douglas Heale
•    Ishara Ramkissoon
•    Hélène-Mari van der Westhuizen

Rector's Award for Succeeding Against the Odds
•    Caroline Pule

 

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Doctoral study on international platform

From left on the photo are Prof Mariana Kruger, executive head and Dr Regan Solomons, senior specialist of the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, SU, Ms Sabine van Elsland, PhD candidate, Prof Marceline van Furth and Dr Martijn van der Kuip, Paediatric Infection Diseases, Vrije University and Prof Wilbert Bitter, Medical Microbiology, Vrije Universiteit Medical Centre, Amsterdam.

Dr Regan Solomons, a full-time senior specialist in childhood neurology and senior lecturer in the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, is currently doing his PhD in 'Improving early diagnosis of tuberculous meningitis in children'. This is a joint degree between the Stellenbosch University (SU) and the Vrije University (VU) in Amsterdam. He holds a bursary from the National Research Foundation, the VU and the Desmond Tutu TB Centre (SU).  His joint supervisors are Prof Johan Schoeman, SU and Prof Marceline van Furth of the VU.  If everything goes according to plan, he will defend his doctoral thesis in the first half of next year in Amsterdam.

National recognition for local scientist

Prof Charles Wiysonge

Prof Charles Wiysonge, a researcher at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences was recently elected to join the prestigious Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf).  Membership to this organisation recognises significant achievement in the advancement or application of science.  Prof Wiysonge was recognised for the important scientific contribution he has made to the strengthening of immunisation systems and evidence-based health care.

 

Doctoral study on international platform

From left on the photo are Prof Mariana Kruger, executive head and Dr Regan Solomons, senior specialist of the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, SU, Ms Sabine van Elsland, PhD candidate, Prof Marceline van Furth and Dr Martijn van der Kuip, Paediatric Infection Diseases, Vrije University and Prof Wilbert Bitter, Medical Microbiology, Vrije Universiteit Medical Centre, Amsterdam.

Dr Regan Solomons, a full-time senior specialist in childhood neurology and senior lecturer in the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, is currently doing his PhD in 'Improving early diagnosis of tuberculous meningitis in children'. This is a joint degree between the Stellenbosch University (SU) and the Vrije University (VU) in Amsterdam. He holds a bursary from the National Research Foundation, the VU and the Desmond Tutu TB Centre (SU).  His joint supervisors are Prof Johan Schoeman, SU and Prof Marceline van Furth of the VU.  If everything goes according to plan, he will defend his doctoral thesis in the first half of next year in Amsterdam.

Solomons is grateful for the opportunity to gain international exposure with his studies. “This bursary offered me the opportunity to attend international courses and to network with experienced researchers at an international level.  I plan to use my experience to expand my TB research and to support new doctoral scholars from the SU in the field of TB meningitis,” he said.

“Everyone at the department is excited, because it is the first joint PhD between the SU and the VU Amsterdam,” said Prof Mariana Kruger, Executive Head of the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health.

Article by Mandi Barnard
Photograph by Oona Rademeyer

 

National recognition for local scientist

Prof Charles Wiysonge, a researcher at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences was recently elected to join the prestigious Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf).  Membership to this organisation recognises significant achievement in the advancement or application of science.  Prof Wiysonge was recognised for the important scientific contribution he has made to the strengthening of immunisation systems and evidence-based health care.

Prof Wiysonge, the Deputy Director at the Centre for Evidence-based Health Care at the Faculty, regards this acknowledgement by one of the world’s leading academies of science as an invitation to make an even greater contribution to the world of health care research.  “I would like to extend my contribution in ensuring that health care policies and practice are informed by the best and most unbiased scientific information by providing, amongst other national and international actions and leadership for widespread recognition of systematic reviews as a research function,” he said.

“Looking at the future, one must ask the question of:  ‘What is next?’”.  He believes that the success of the next generation of scientists hinges on what we do in this generation to educate young Africans. “I envisage expanding my reach in the mentorship of younger researchers, with a focus on addressing inequities,” said Wiysonge.

By Mandi Barnard

 

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Young academics receive recognition for research

Dr Fanie Malherbe (left) won the prize for the best presentation at the annual meeting of the South African Society of Nuclear Physicians and Dr Serge Wessels (right) was awarded the Van Blerk prize at the South African Urology Congress 2014.

A number of young researchers of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences received recognition for their research projects at recent congresses.

Two registrars of the Division of Urology excelled at the 30th biennial South African Urology Congress 2014 which was held in Cape Town during September.  

Dr Serge Wessels was awarded the Van Blerk prize for his podium presentation in the oncology session, which was entitled: “Haematuria as screening test for bladder invasion by carcinoma of the cervix can decrease the use of staging cystoscopy”.  This prize is awarded for an outstanding congress presentation which had also been submitted in a complete format suitable for publication.  Wessels said he is honoured to have received the award. “It is a tribute to the mentorship of the late Professor Chris Heyns”, he commented.

New book to guide young clinical researchers

 

A new guide, “Getting started in Clinical Research”, for junior researchers in the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS) at Stellenbosch University has been published recently.

The guide was compiled by Profs Robert Gie and Nulda Beyers, who both are enthusiastic researchers who have experienced the pleasure, frustrations, lows and highs of research. They have realised the importance of having a mentor who could guide a researcher through the ups and downs of research, and decided to transfer that guidance to their young colleagues by publishing this book.

 

Young academics receive recognition for research

From the left: Representing Stellenbosch University are Dr Hellmuth Weich, Prof Anton Doubell and Dr Jane Moses with Prof Patrick Commerford, editor of the CVJA on the far right.

A number of young researchers of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences received recognition for their research projects at recent congresses.

Two registrars of the Division of Urology excelled at the 30th biennial South African Urology Congress 2014 which was held in Cape Town during September.  
Dr Serge Wessels was awarded the Van Blerk prize for his podium presentation in the oncology session, which was entitled: “Haematuria as screening test for bladder invasion by carcinoma of the cervix can decrease the use of staging cystoscopy”.  This prize is awarded for an outstanding congress presentation which had also been submitted in a complete format suitable for publication.  Wessels said he is honoured to have received the award. “It is a tribute to the mentorship of the late Professor Chris Heyns”, he commented.

Dr Hilgard Ackermann won the Bard Medal for the best Researched Paper, entitled “Computed tomography in the staging of patients with invasive bladder cancer” at the congress.  “I was privileged to win this award for my presentation,” he said. “Accurate options for the staging of patients with invasive bladder cancer remain a challenge.” He explained that, compared with clinical bimanual examination, computed tomography was less accurate in providing accurate staging prior to curative surgery.  “The study showed that poor correlation existed between clinical bimanual examination, CT staging and the final histopathological report.”

Dr Fanie Malherbe of the Division of Molecular Biology and Human Genetics won the prize for the best presentation at the annual meeting of the South African Society of Nuclear Physicians for his presentation entitled “Evaluating Tuberculosis patients’ response to treatment using quantified analysis of [18f]FDG-PET/CT imaging”. Dr Malherbe said he appreciated the positive feedback on his work.  “Winning an award for my presentation helps to boost my confidence in the project and reassures me that I am on the right track.  I was also glad to represent Stellenbosch University successfully at a national congress,” he commented.

Dr Jane Moses of the Department of Medicine received the Andries Brink-Kaye Award for the best publication in the Cardiovascular Journal of Africa 2013-2014 at the South African Heart Association Congress in Durban for her publication entitled "Non-ST Elevation Myocardial Infarction (NSTEMI) in Three Hospital Settings in South Africa. Does Geography influence Management and Outcome? A Retrospective Cohort Study."  
“I think that, apart from it being a great honour to receive such an award, the special significance to me is that this study was about resources and equal access to the accepted standard of care.  It is refreshing and inspiring that those judging the award thought that the research had the potential to influence policy,” Dr Moses said.

Dr Mari Retief of the Department of Psychiatry was awarded the MS Bell Award by the Colleges of Medicine for the best registrar presentation at the National Congress of the South African Society of Psychiatrists held in Durban in September.

 

By Mandi Barnard
 

 

New book to guide young clinical researchers



A new guide, “Getting started in Clinical Research”, for junior researchers in the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS) at Stellenbosch University has been published recently.

The guide was compiled by Profs Robert Gie and Nulda Beyers, who both are enthusiastic researchers who have experienced the pleasure, frustrations, lows and highs of research. They have realised the importance of having a mentor who could guide a researcher through the ups and downs of research, and decided to transfer that guidance to their young colleagues by publishing this book.

“The purpose of the guide is to try and make research study a little easier, to assist students  to complete their study and experience the elation of seeing their research published,” Prof Gie said.

The most important point, however, is that all MMed students now have to complete a research project which has to be assessed to the satisfaction of the postgraduate committee before they are able to register as a specialist in South Africa. “So even if you have passed your final exams and have not completed your research project, you will not be able to register and practice as a specialist,” he explained.

According to Prof Beyers, this is a first attempt to prepare such a guide and it will need to be updated regularly to ensure that all the material reflects the changing world of research and its requirements. “We have written this book mostly to address this urgent need as most MMed students do not know how to start, make progress with and complete their research project,” she said.

They started off writing the guide for registrars and junior researchers with examples relevant to paediatrics. Beyers indicated that the steps in the guide are fairly general and the appendices, templates and electronic version can be adapted to be more appropriate for other disciplines and users are welcome to do that.

It is arranged with 17 easy-to-read steps that are essential to carry out research and to get the results published. “We have included appendices, templates, regulatory sections and websites/references as additional reading material to provide more detailed information researchers may require for their study,” said Gie.

The book is available online free of charge at www.sun.ac.za/paediatrics.

By Mandi Barnard
 

 

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Public private collaboration to train medical students

The members of the panel at the media briefing were (from the left) Dr Rust Theron (Internal Medicine Specialist), Mr Koert Pretorius (Chief Executive Officer: Mediclinic Southern Africa), Mr Theuns Botha (Western Cape Health Minister) and Prof Jimmy Volmink (Dean: Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences)

A ground-breaking initiative was announced recently between Stellenbosch University and Mediclinic Southern Africa that enables Stellenbosch University medical students to undergo part of their training at accredited Mediclinic hospitals. Western Cape Health Minister, Theuns Botha, participated in the announcement as a token of his support for the initiative.

The programme was initiated by a pilot project in 2014 at Mediclinic Durbanville in Cape Town’s northern suburbs in partnership with the SU Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS). Fourth and fifth year medical students can now complete their four-week long internal medicine rotations at the hospital, and receive clinical training from private sector doctors. The students accompany the doctors on their ward rounds and to their rooms and are given the opportunity to assist the doctors with the management of patients.

 

Public private collaboration to train medical students

The members of the panel at the media briefing were (from the left) Dr Rust Theron (Internal Medicine Specialist), Mr Koert Pretorius (Chief Executive Officer: Mediclinic Southern Africa), Mr Theuns Botha (Western Cape Health Minister) and Prof Jimmy Volmink (Dean: Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences)

A ground-breaking initiative was announced today between Stellenbosch University and Mediclinic Southern Africa that enables Stellenbosch University medical students to undergo part of their training at accredited Mediclinic hospitals. Western Cape Health Minister, Theuns Botha, participated in the announcement as a token of his support for the initiative.

The programme was initiated by a pilot project in 2014 at Mediclinic Durbanville in Cape Town’s northern suburbs in partnership with the SU Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS). Fourth and fifth year medical students can now complete their four-week long internal medicine rotations at the hospital, and receive clinical training from private sector doctors. The students accompany the doctors on their ward rounds and to their rooms and are given the opportunity to assist the doctors with the management of patients.

The project was the initiative of Professors Rafique Moosa, executive head of the department of medicine of the FMHS, Elvis Irusen, chairman of the undergraduate programme in general internal medicine of the FMHS and two specialist doctors with practices at Mediclinic Durbanville - a radiologist, Dr René Truter, and an internal medicine specialist, Dr Rust Theron.

Prof. Moosa said “The pilot project was very carefully planned and we are very pleased that it has been received so positively. We have to give credit to all the stakeholders for being so brave to go on this journey with us. I would highlight two of the success factors as the wonderful support of Mediclinic Durbanville and the specialists coming on board.

“It is the first time that such a programme for the formal training of undergraduate students in the private sector has been successfully implemented. We can now roll it out knowing that it is a winning project.”

Prof Jimmy Volmink, dean of the FMHS, said: “The health care training platform is under tremendous pressure as we respond to the urgent need to increase the number of doctors and other health workers in South Africa. Extending our partnership with the private sector is vital to realise the broader objective of universal access to health care.”

Koert Pretorius, Chief Executive Officer: Mediclinic Southern Africa said: “The chronic shortage of healthcare professionals is not a problem unique to South Africa, and we face a set of challenges that requires the cooperation of all parties in order to achieve an equitable solution, particularly as they affect all stakeholders in the sector.”

“Mediclinic Southern Africa has formed an enduring relationship with the University of Stellenbosch, where we have, over the years, assisted various departments within the health sciences faculty. It therefore makes sense for us to join forces with them to provide additional learning experiences for medical students,” he said.

“By providing training in the private hospital context, we have the opportunity to expose future doctors to other facets of medical care that they would not necessarily experience in the public hospitals. We believe this more rounded approach will enable them to be better clinicians and, in the long term, we hope this will contribute towards the delivery of affordable and accessible quality health care to a greater cross-section of South Africa’s people,” Pretorius concluded.

Based on the success of the pilot project, the FMHS and Mediclinic have agreed to expand the programme to three other hospitals in the Mediclinic group, namely Mediclinic Cape Gate, Mediclinic Louis Leipoldt and Mediclinic Panorama. The two parties are in the process of drawing up a Memorandum of Agreement which they hope to sign shortly.

Prof Ben van Heerden, director of the Centre for Health Professions Education and MB,ChB programme coordinator at the FMHS, also commented: “The faculty and the MB,ChB programme committee are very excited about this collaboration with the private sector. Not only does it offer the opportunity for our students to be exposed to another important component of the country’s health system, but also exposure to a different patient and disease profile than what would ordinarily be encountered in the public sector.”

The specialists at Mediclinic Durbanville received accreditation by the FMHS to be able to train students. All participating staff attended a short course to ensure they are equipped to transfer the appropriate skills and knowledge to the students.

According to Prof Marietjie de Villiers, deputy dean of education of the FMHS, the feedback from students and lecturers has been very positive. "Even the patients welcome the initiative, because they say the student-doctors are able to spend more time with them.”

“The benefits to the students include that they see a full spectrum of patients and that they are given one to one tutoring, which is quite unique and not something they would experience in public sector hospitals. The students and the physicians now hold regular meetings where cases are presented and discussed. The physicians, by the nature of their work, are able to provide the first rate teaching and the environment lends itself to good teaching material. As the students are in their fourth year, they are not complete novices which means they can meaningfully engage with the physicians. The feedback from all parties has been extremely positive,” Prof Moosa said.

Minister Botha supported the initiative from the beginning, and commented: “I welcome the agreement between both institutions – Mediclinic in their capacity as a private sector hospital, and SU as a training institution – to promote the concept of health professions training.

“It is the objective of Western Cape Government to effect legislative changes to enable the private sector to become involved on a considerable scale in the training of doctors in South Africa. At present it is not possible because medical training is public sector driven.

“It is not reasonable to expect the private sector to accept co-responsibility for health care, but prohibit them from participation in training. The private sector is involved in the training of nursing staff, and I see no reason why this cannot be expanded to medical doctors.  

“The issue of the shortage of doctors in South Africa is well-known, as well as the dire need to improve public health care.  The relevant legislation needs to provide a framework where both the public and the private sector accept responsibility to take on the challenge that lies ahead,” the Minister said.

Click here to view more photos of the event on the Faculty's Facebook page

 

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Building healthy communities

The CBPR Class of 2014: The first course in Community-based participatory research at Stellenbosch University (US) was received well and attended by staff and students of the university as well as professionals from the Western Cape Department of Health.

Communicable and non-communicable diseases (NCDs), are globally becoming a growing burden of disease.  Community-based participatory research (CBPR) can be applied successfully to address the burden of disease through collaboratively studying relevant health and social issues and applying contextually appropriate solutions with communities.

Yet, it remains largely overlooked in academic and public health offerings, despite increasing policy directives for community engagement to address major public health problems.

In an effort to promote CBPR in the Western Cape, the Division of Community Health at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at the Stellenbosch University (SU), recently presented the first short course in CBPR. The course was co-designed and delivered by Dr Frederick Marais of the SU and Prof Meredith Minkler, of the University of California (UC).  It was done in partnership between the SU, the Western Cape Department of Health and the School of Public Health, UC in USA. The project was partly funded by the Fulbright Scholar Programme and Stellenbosch University Rural Medical Educational Partnership Initiative (Surmepi).

Networks extended at Rural Health Symposium

The conference provided a stimulating platform to engage with new concepts and share knowledge.

The 18th annual Rural Health Conference was held at Stellenbosch University’s Worcester campus in September, and co-hosted by the Ukwanda Rural Clinical School.

The conference, entitled “Building Resilience in Facing Rural Health Realities,” was hosted by Rural Rehab South Africa (RuReSA), the Rural Doctors Association (RuDASA) and the Professional Association of Clinical Associates in South Africa (PACASA).

“This conference is an important annual event  on the national calendar for rural health and is hosted annually in a different province,” says Ms Guin Lourens, clinical training platform manager of Ukwanda at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.

 

Building healthy communities

The CBPR Class of 2014:
The first course in Community-based participatory research at Stellenbosch University (SU) was received well and attended by staff and students of the university as well as professionals from the Western Cape Department of Health.

Communicable and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are globally becoming a growing burden of disease.  Community-based participatory research (CBPR) can be applied successfully to address the burden of disease through collaboratively studying relevant health and social issues and applying contextually appropriate solutions with communities.

Yet, it remains largely overlooked in academic and public health offerings, despite increasing policy directives for community engagement to address major public health problems.

In an effort to promote CBPR in the Western Cape, the Division of Community Health at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at Stellenbosch University (SU), recently presented the first short course in CBPR. The course was co-designed and delivered by Dr Frederick Marais of the SU and Prof Meredith Minkler of the University of California (UC).  It was done in partnership between the SU, the Western Cape Department of Health and the School of Public Health, UC in the USA. The project was partly funded by the Fulbright Scholar Programme and Stellenbosch University Rural Medical Educational Partnership Initiative (Surmepi).

CBPR is defined in the course material as a “systematic inquiry, with the collaboration of those affected by the issue being investigated, for the purposes of education and taking action or effecting social change”.

“By applying CBPR, the burden of disease could be addressed through collaboratively studying the broader determinants of health and wellness by shifting from a ‘deficit mentality’ to a community assets-based approach; and by identifying, implementing and evaluating contextually appropriate solutions with the affected communities,” said Dr Frederick Marais, of the Western Cape Department of Health and an Extraordinary Senior Lecturer at the Faculty’s Division of Community Health.  

He said that it is not a research method but a transformative partnership orientation to research, reciprocal learning and action for change.  

CBPR has been used successfully in different settings around the world to build healthy communities. By applying this approach, health concerns from NCDs to HIV/Aids and TB can be addressed with communities and at the same time community development, empowerment and wellness can be promoted broadly.

The course was extremely well received and feedback from the participants included remarks such as:
“A FANTASTIC course! Encourage more people to do this course.”
“We need this kind of course to make Healthcare 2030 work!”
"The course was an eye opener! It changed my view on how I will take projects on in the future."

By Mandi Barnard

 

Networks extended at Rural Health Symposium

The conference provided a stimulating platform to engage with new concepts and share knowledge.

The 18th annual Rural Health Conference was held at Stellenbosch University’s Worcester campus in September, and co-hosted by the Ukwanda Rural Clinical School.

The conference, entitled “Building Resilience in Facing Rural Health Realities,” was hosted by Rural Rehab South Africa (RuReSA), the Rural Doctors Association (RuDASA) and the Professional Association of Clinical Associates in South Africa (PACASA).

“This conference is an important annual event  on the national calendar for rural health and is hosted annually in a different province,” says Ms Guin Lourens, clinical training platform manager of Ukwanda at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.

“The conference strives to build relationships and networks of diverse interests in rural health consumers, practitioners, academics, researchers, governments and non-government agencies. It provides a stimulating and innovative platform to not only engage with new concepts and share knowledge, but to implement health research in decentralised regions in South Africa,” she added.

Nearly 200 doctors, allied health workers, clinical associates and academics from around the country attended the conference that put the spotlight on access to mental health care services, health education transformation, rural health systems strengthening and the needs of rural people with disabilities.

In addition to the traditional conference format of educational workshops, plenaries, oral and poster presentations, “conference on the move” sessions were also presented. Delegates were shuttled to sites at district hospitals and rural clinics where speakers demonstrated the unique systems and techniques employed there.

“The conference on the go was a first for the annual rural conference and an innovation in conference proceedings to showcase local district and NGO health care facilities in the Cape Winelands and Overberg health districts,” says Lourens.

By Wilma Stassen

 

 

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App to help students speak isiXhosa

Front L-R: Dr Philip Lewis, Head: Sitheth’iMpilo; Prof Marietjie de Villiers, Deputy Dean: Education; and Dr Febe de Wet, Human Language Technology Research Group at CSIR Meraka Institute. Back L-R: Madelé du Plessis, junior lecturer at Sitheth’iMpilo; Linda Mhlabeni, e-learning clinical communication coordinator at Sitheth’iMpilo and Britt Beljoi, administrative officer at Sitheth’iMpilo.

Soon students will be able to download an app onto their mobile phones to help them communicate with patients in isiXhosa.

The app will be available on the faculty’s e-learning platform to help students with the pronunciation of isiXhosa words during clinical consultations with isiXhosa speaking patients.

This is a collaborative project between the Sitheth’iMpilo Initiative at the Division of Speech-Language and Hearing Therapy and the Human Language Technology Research Group (HLTRG) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research’s (CSIR) Meraka Institute.

Virologist excels at international conference

Heather Broughton (left) and Tanya Kerr (right), collecting blood samples from lions.

Ms Tanya Kerr, a PhD student in Virology, won the best poster award in the Phylogenetic Inference module at the 19th International BioInformatics Workshop on Virus Evolution and Molecular Epidemiology (VEME) held in Rome in September 2014.  

The workshop is the most prestigious workshop on viral phylogenetics and molecular epidemiology in the world. “Competition to be accepted to present and attend this workshop is extremely heavy and only 20 to 35 people are accepted per workshop module per year. To be accepted is an award in itself,” said Prof Susan Engelbrecht of the Division of Medical Virology.

 

App to help students speak isiXhosa

Front L-R: Dr Philip Lewis, Head: Sitheth’iMpilo; Prof Marietjie de Villiers, Deputy Dean: Education; and Dr Febe de Wet, Human Language Technology Research Group at CSIR Meraka Institute. Back L-R: Madelé du Plessis, junior lecturer at Sitheth’iMpilo; Linda Mhlabeni, e-learning clinical communication coordinator at Sitheth’iMpilo and Britt Beljoi, administrative officer at Sitheth’iMpilo.

Soon students will be able to download an app onto their mobile phones to help them communicate with patients in isiXhosa.

The app will be available on the faculty’s e-learning platform to help students with the pronunciation of isiXhosa words during clinical consultations with isiXhosa speaking patients.

This is a collaborative project between the Sitheth’iMpilo Initiative at the Division of Speech-Language and Hearing Therapy and the Human Language Technology Research Group (HLTRG) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research’s (CSIR) Meraka Institute.

“The design and application of this unique app to improve Xhosa pronunciation difficulties is the first of its kind in any African language for clinical consultation in South Africa,” says Dr Philip Lewis from the Sitheth’iMpilo Initiative.

The data collection phase of the project started in October with HLTRG delegates recording Occupational Therapy II students to determine intelligibility thresholds. In 2015, field tests will be conducted among Human Nutrition II students to determine the efficacy of the app.

The HLTRG has committed nearly R1.2 million towards the design and development of the app while further funding has also been made available by the Deputy Deans of Education and Research respectively.

By Wilma Stassen
 

 

Virologist excels at international conference

Heather Broughton (left) and Tanya Kerr (right), collecting blood samples from lions.

Ms Tanya Kerr, a PhD student in Virology, won the best poster award in the Phylogenetic Inference module at the 19th International BioInformatics Workshop on Virus Evolution and Molecular Epidemiology (VEME) held in Rome in September 2014.  

The workshop is the most prestigious workshop on viral phylogenetics and molecular epidemiology in the world. “Competition to be accepted to present and attend this workshop is extremely heavy and only 20 to 35 people are accepted per workshop module per year. To be accepted is an award in itself,” said Prof Susan Engelbrecht of the Division of Medical Virology.

Kerr said she feels extremely privileged to have had the opportunity to attend the 2014 VEME Workshop. “It will not only benefit my current PhD project, which looks at the molecular epidemiology of the Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) in African lions, but also future work in FIV research and lion conservation efforts," she said.

Kerr is a registered PhD student in the Department of Conservation Ecology at the Faculty of AgriSciences, with her main supervisor is Dr Sonja Matthee. She is co-supervised by Prof Conrad Matthee, of the Department Botany and Zoology at the Faculty of Science and Prof Engelbrecht of the Division of Medical Virology at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.

Her laboratory work is conducted at the Tygerberg campus under the supervision of Prof Engelbrecht.  

This is a multidisciplinary project conducted between Stellenbosch University in collaboration with SANParks. Dr Danny Govender is the project leader for SANParks.

By Mandi Barnard
 

 

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Visitors' Book

McMaster University

Prof John Lavis (centre) delivered a guest lecture titled “What we're learning about supporting evidence-informed health policymaking” on 2 October 2014 at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS).

American Public Health Organisation

Prof George Benjamin, Executive Director of the American Public Health Association (APHA) presented a guest lecture entitled “The role that APHA plays in public health in USA, and its relationship with the health services and academic institutions”. He visited the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences on 8 October 2014 as a guest of Prof Lilian Dudley, head of the Division of Community Health.

Mediclinic International

The Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences recently hosted a high-level Mediclinic delegation to showcase the faculty’s various e-learning initiatives.  These included the isiXhosa clinical communication skills e-learning platform; 3500 podcasts of lectures and clinical tutorials in the MB,ChB programme; the new top-of-the range BYOD (bring-your-own-device) system; and our electronic linkages enabling teaching on the rural training platform. On the picture are (back row from left to right): Prof Marietjie de Villiers, Deputy Dean: Education; Ms Alta Greeff, BYOD Co-ordinator, Mr David Wiles, Manager Gerga, Dr Ronnie van der Merwe, Mediclinic International Chief Clinical Officer and Dr Stefan Smuts, Mediclinic SA Chief Clinical Officer. In the front row are Ms Avril Stroh, Mediclinic SA General Manager: Training and Dr René Toua, Mediclinic SA Clinical Data & Information Manager

 

McMaster University

Prof John Lavis delivered a guest lecture titled “What we're learning about supporting evidence-informed health policymaking” on 2 October 2014 at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS).

Prof Taryn Young, director of the Centre for Evidence-based Health Care (CEBHC), invited Prof Lavis to deliver a special lecture at the faculty.  He travelled to Cape Town to attend the Global Health System Symposium which was held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, where he facilitated and chaired various sessions.

Profs Young and Lavis have previously worked together on various projects to promote the use of evidence in decision making. These include the SUPPORT and SURE projects.  They are both on the Advisory Board of the BCURE (Building Capacity to Use Research Evidence) Project of the University of Johannesburg.

Prof Lavis is a professor in the department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the McMaster University.  His research focuses on how to support the use of research evidence in health policy-making.  Amongst a number of high ranking positions at various centres and institutions, he holds the position of adjunct professor of Global Health at the Harvard School of Public Health.

On the photo taken at the lecture are (from left to right) Profs Usuf Chikte, Executive Head: Department of Interdisciplinary Health Sciences, Taryn Young, Director: CEBHC, John Lavis, Jimmy Volmink, Dean: FMHS and Charles Wiysonge, Deputy Director: CEBHC.

By Mandi Barnard

American Public Health Organisation

Prof George Benjamin, Executive Director of the American Public Health Association (APHA) presented a guest lecture entitled “The role that APHA plays in public health in USA, and its relationship with the health services and academic institutions”. He visited the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences on 8 October 2014 as a guest of Prof Lilian Dudley, head of the Division of Community Health.

Prof Benjamin is known as one of America’s most influential physician leaders.  He is passionate about the issues influencing public health in America. He has been executive director of APHA since 2002 and is leading the Association’s drive to make America the healthiest nation in one generation.

Pictured on the photo are (from left) Profs Lilian Dudley, George Benjamin and Jimmy Volmink, Dean of the FMHS.

 

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'God is smiling at the staff of Tygerberg Children’s Hospital,' says Tutu

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has thanked the doctors, nurses and staff of Tygerberg Children’s Hospital for the work they do in caring for children.
 
Speaking at the annual interfaith thanksgiving service at Tygerberg Children’s Hospital, Tutu said so many ‘beautiful things’ happened at the hospital in the way sick children were looked after.
 
He contrasted this to the tragedies that have unfolded around the world and in Cape Town neighbourhoods recently.
 
“I think God is spending a lot of time crying.  A few days ago, 48 children were killed in Nigeria. Over 300 girls have been abducted. On Sunday, a mother is walking with her son and he is attacked. They rip him to death in front of his mother. God is crying….But then he sees Tygerberg and he starts smiling through the tears.”

Tutu, who together with his wife Leah, is the patron of Tygerberg Children’s Hospital, said he was impressed by the operations doctors had to perform on small babies and children.
 
“I’ve always been surprised at how these doctors manage to do operations on these little, little bodies and very little, little limbs….But they do.”

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu pays tribute to the staff at Tygerberg Children’s Hospital during an interfaith thanksgiving service at the hospital.

 

'God is smiling at the staff of Tygerberg Children’s Hospital,' says Tutu

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, with former patient, Dylan van Niekerk, photographer, Damien Schumann and artist, Marie Stander.

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has thanked the doctors, nurses and staff of Tygerberg Children’s Hospital for the work they do in caring for children.
 
Speaking at the annual interfaith thanksgiving service at Tygerberg Children’s Hospital, Tutu said so many ‘beautiful things’ happened at the hospital in the way sick children were looked after.
 
He contrasted this to the tragedies that have unfolded around the world and in Cape Town neighbourhoods recently.
 
“I think God is spending a lot of time crying.  A few days ago, 48 children were killed in Nigeria. Over 300 girls have been abducted. On Sunday, a mother is walking with her son and he is attacked. They rip him to death in front of his mother. God is crying….But then he sees Tygerberg and he starts smiling through the tears.”
 
Tutu, who together with his wife Leah, is the patron of Tygerberg Children’s Hospital, said he was impressed by the operations doctors had to perform on small babies and children.
 
“I’ve always been surprised at how these doctors manage to do operations on these little, little bodies and very little, little limbs….But they do.”
 
Muslim and Jewish leaders called on families and loved ones to be brave and hopeful in the face of illness and to be thankful for others.
 
The Archbishop Emeritus lit a candle in honour of the staff and patients at the hospital, and was followed by everyone from patients and parents to nurses and administrative staff, who lit candles one after the other.
 
The thanksgiving service is held at the hospital every year to pay tribute to the staff and young patients.  Over 16,000 babies and children are admitted to Tygerberg Children’s Hospital every year, while over 100,000 children are treated at the Outpatients division.
 
Manager for Medical Services at Tygerberg Hospital, Dr Granville Marinus, said the staff “worked under tremendous pressure and had to juggle within a very tight budget” but were committed to serving the needs of the children.
 
Apart from doctors who performed a vital role, Prof Rob Gie, Clinical Head of Pulmonology at the Tygerberg Children’s Hospital, paid tribute to everyone involved in the hospital.
 
“The doctors often get the attention, but the unsung heroes of Tygerberg Children’s Hospital are the nurses, teachers, social workers, dieticians, household and administrative staff.  If it were not for these staff, Tygerberg Children’s Hospital would be nothing.”
 
Director of the Desmond Tutu TB Centre, Prof Nulda Beyers, presented Tutu with a drawing inspired by a photograph of him with a young patient at the hospital’s thanksgiving service in 2005.
 
Eight years later, at this year’s service, the young patient, Dylan van Niekerk, now aged 18, met Tutu, together with the artist, Marie Stander, and photographer, Damien Schumann.
 
“I had haemophilia when I was 10. I was very ill and I shook Tutu’s hand. It was great to meet him then – and great to meet him now,” said van Niekerk.
 
Tygerberg Children’s Hospital is a world leader in the treatment and research of tuberculosis and is known for its pioneering work in the care of newborn babies, and projects in the fields of HIV and AIDS and cancer in particular.
 
The service was organised by the Tygerberg Children’s Hospital Trust, Stellenbosch University and Tygerberg Hospital
 
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, with former patient, Dylan van Niekerk, photographer, Damien Schumann and artist, Marie Stander.
 
Article and photographs by Kim Cloete

 

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Early detection and treatment vital to combat cancer

From left to right: Profs Marietjie de Villiers, Deputy Dean: Education (FMHS); Jimmy Volmink, Dean (FMHS); Vikash Sewram and Mohammad Karaan, Acting Vice-Rector: Community Interaction and Personnel at SU

Prevention efforts linked to early detection and diagnosis of cancer can play a vital role in the fight against the disease.

This was one of the viewpoints of Prof Vikash Sewram, Director of the African Cancer Institute (ACI) in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS) at Stellenbosch University (SU), in his inaugural lecture on Monday (27 October 2014). The event took place in the Education Building on SU's Tygerberg Campus.

Sewram said prevention offers the most cost‐effective long‐term strategy for the control of cancer which remains one of the major killers threatening the socio-economic development of South Africa and Africa at large, and has a significant health impact on the South African population.

Researcher wins gold at world shooting championship

The South African team that competed in the 300m category at the Black Powder Short Distance World Championships were Pieter Truter, Dr Corena de Beer and Clint Slabbert.
 

Dr Corena de Beer won gold at the Black Powder Short Distance World Championship that was held in Granada, Spain recently.

This senior medical scientist of the Division of Medical Virology has been the women’s world champion in long distance muzzle loading shooting since 2011. The muzzle loading or black powder rifle is similar to that used during the Boer Wars in the 1800s.

De Beer was one of only five marksmen in South Africa that met the qualifying criteria of the Black Powder Short Distance World Championship, and she was also selected to captain the national team.

 

Researcher wins gold at world shooting championship

The South African team that competed in the 300m category at the Black Powder Short Distance World Championships were Pieter Truter, Dr Corena de Beer and Clint Slabbert.

Dr Corena de Beer won gold at the Black Powder Short Distance World Championship that was held in Granada, Spain recently.

This senior medical scientist of the Division of Medical Virology has been the women’s world champion in long distance muzzle loading shooting since 2011. The muzzle loading or black powder rifle is similar to that used during the Boer Wars in the 1800s.

De Beer was one of only five marksmen in South Africa that met the qualifying criteria of the Black Powder Short Distance World Championship, and she was also selected to captain the national team.

The South African team competed in six of the 24 matches, and shot at various distances between 25m and 300m in both the original and replica categories. The team won gold in the 300m match, and De Beer also won an individual gold in the 300m replica category.

She was selected for the long distance Protea team that will compete in the Long Distance World Championships in America next year.

By Wilma Stassen
 

 

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FMHS Gala Concert – a celebration of diversity of talents

The annual Gala concert of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS) of the Stellenbosch University (SU) was held on Friday, 19 September in the Hugo Lambrechts auditorium.

The concert celebrates the diversity of talents of the staff and students of the FMHS and creates an opportunity to showcase and enjoy creativity and excellence.

The concert was attended by staff, students and alumni of the FMHS, parents, family members and friends. There was something for every taste on the menu, from the Stellenbosch University Medical Orchestra’s melodic sounds of Johan Strauss and Jacques Offenbach to the gumboot dance talents of Alex Menu and Luthando Siboya, two first-year medical students, who had the audience out of their seats.

 

 

FMHS Gala Concert – a celebration of diversity of talents

The staff's A Capella group was a hit with the audience

The annual Gala concert of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS) of the Stellenbosch University (SU) was held on Friday, 19 September in the Hugo Lambrechts auditorium.

The concert celebrates the diversity of talents of the staff and students of the FMHS and creates an opportunity to showcase and enjoy creativity and excellence.

The concert was attended by staff, students and alumni of the FMHS, parents, family members and friends. There was something for every taste on the menu, from the Stellenbosch University Medical Orchestra’s melodic sounds of Johan Strauss and Jacques Offenbach to the gumboot dance talents of Alex Menu and Luthando Siboya, two first-year medical students, who had the audience out of their seats.

The medical orchestra, consisting of FMHS students and staff and the only orchestra of its kind in the country dedicated the Nimrod from the Enigma variations of Edward Elgar to the deceased SU rector, Prof Russel Botman.

The evening included a performance by the Tygerberg Gospel Choir, a new choir established on campus earlier this year. Die choir enchanted the audience with performances of Rots van die Eeue from Rochelle Liedemann and Hlonolofatsa from the Soweto Gospel Choir. There was also a variety of dance items on the programme, including contemporary and hip-hop dance items.

A concert of the FMHS would of course not be the same without the performances of the serenade (sêr) groups. Sêr is a proud tradition on the Tygerberg Campus and the audience was entertained by two groups. The first group, named Arrhythmia, consists of members of the Osler private student organisation and singers of the Huis Kerkenberg residence. The group was established this year and the hearts of audience members skipped a beat during their performance.

Second up were the sophisticated ladies of the serenade group, Huis Francie van Zijl residence. They are the winners of this year’s SU serenade competition and came third in the national competition.  

According to a staff member that attended the concert, “The Gala concert was truly special. I had tears in my eyes at one point. It reminded me of why I believe in our country and its people. It was a proud moment for the faculty.”

By Ronel Bester

 

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Sustainable living on the Tygerberg campus

Harvesting the worm farm - Tumi Theepe (left) and Bulela Dlamini were not afraid of the wiggly worms.

“Living green and sustainable is something that should be taught to as many people as possible and even more so should be practiced by each and every person in residence... Creativity and new, innovative ideas must be encouraged within residence,” says Jeremi Swanepoel, the 2013 Green HK for Hippokrates residence.

Huis Francie takes top honours

Huis Francie won the Kleinsêr competition and took third position in the nationals.

The talented ladies of Huis Francie van Zijl on the Tygerberg Campus excelled in 2014.

They won Stellenbosch University’s 2014 Academic Cup for Best Performing Living Area. This award is presented annually by die Academic Affairs Council (AAC) of the Stellenbosch Student Council to the living area boasting the best academic achievement.

Selected students visit FMHS

Future Maties? The programme included a visit to the library.

The Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS) recently hosted 55 of its top, newly selected black students at the Tygerberg campus, with the aim of affording them an opportunity to experience the campus, its students and staff, as well as inspire and motivate them to choose to study at Stellenbosch University (SU) in 2015.

 

Sustainable living on the Tygerberg campus

Students participate actively in the green initiatives on campus. The worm farm is harvested twice a year and it produces up to 160 kg vermi compost per harvest and 10 - 20 litres vermi tea per week.

“Living green and sustainable is something that should be taught to as many people as possible and even more so should be practiced by each and every person in residence... Creativity and new, innovative ideas must be encouraged within residence,” says Jeremi Swanepoel, the 2013 Green HK for Hippokrates residence.

Over the past few years, sustainability has increasingly become an integral part of the daily activities of staff and students of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at the Tygerberg campus.

Sustainability is included as a focus point in the faculty’s strategic plan and the Green Committee has been tasked with the planning and execution of green initiatives within the faculty and on the Tygerberg campus. The committee commenced seven years ago with a humble tree planting ceremony to offset carbon emissions of travelling colleagues, and has since developed into an active committee of staff and students participating in various projects on campus and international initiatives such as Global Green Hospitals project.

Carmen Kennedy, who holds the portfolio for Community Interaction and Green on the Tygerberg Student Council 2014 is – like her predecessor Marguerite Foot – an active member of the faculty’s Green Committee and plays an important role in the alignment of student activities with those of the Green Committee, for example the implementation of the three bin recycling plan.

All residences on campus are involved with initiatives to promote sustainability on campus and there is a sound spirit of competition amongst students. For the first time this year, the Tygerberg Green Cup competition was held and Huis Francie van Zijl was awarded first prize.

Huis Francie’s Green Committee identified energy saving as a focus point for the year. They appointed students in each section – named the fire flies – to monitor passage and bathroom lights at night. They placed messages in the residence promoting sustainability, e.g. stickers at all electrical switches as reminder to hit the off button after use.  Lights in the rooms, passages and living areas have been equipped with energy saving bulbs and students were encouraged to do the same with their study and bedside lamps.  Students are also motivated to recycle paper and make use of the large containers placed in each section.

Hippokrates started a residence garden from which the students can harvest vegetables and herbs for their own use.  They are also involved in funding and helping to sustain a community garden in Khayelitsha. The garden contains many vegetables and serves as a sustainable source of fresh food to a number of households in the area.

Students from all the residences, including members of the Osler private student organisation, actively participated in TSR initiatives on the campus, such as the worm farm harvest, the Tygerberg Hospital School’s garden project and the painting project which formed part of the annual international energy saving advocacy campaign, known as Earth Hour.

Various initiatives took place to celebrate Earth Hour. Students were invited to make small paintings to portray their views on sustainability. These small artworks were combined into two collages which were hung in the passage across the library.

In line with Huis Francie’s focus on energy saving, they hosted a picnic in the quad and used solar lights and candles for additional lighting.

Huis Kerkenberg celebrated “Earth Hour” with a fashion show where models sported clothes made of recyclable materials.  They produced informative videos on recycling and sustainable behaviour which were distributed amongst the students.

The three bin recycling system, which was implemented by the SU’s Facilities Services in collaboration with the Green Committee on the Tygerberg Campus, has also been successfully rolled out in the residences. With this system, people in residences and on the campus grounds can throw waste into one of three bins – recyclable, non-recyclable and composting.  In 2013 175 599kg of waste were sent for recycling, while 186 120kg were sent to landfill. That is an increase to 48.5% of waste recycled.  The campus target is to recycle 80% of all waste.

Article and photographs by Mandi Barnard

 

Huis Francie takes top honours

On the photo are (from left) Tara Oosthuizen (HK-member for academics), Hettie van der Walt (Primaria), Dr Alwyn Louw, Resident Warden and Chantell de Koning (HK-member for the Green Committee).

The talented ladies of Huis Francie van Zijl on the Tygerberg Campus excelled in 2014.

They won Stellenbosch University’s 2014 Academic Cup for Best Performing Living Area. This award is presented annually by die Academic Affairs Council (AAC) of the Stellenbosch Student Council to the living area boasting the best academic achievement.

There are 26 different categories, which distinguishes between men’s and ladies’ residences and the academic year (first year, non-final year and final year students.) Die academic results of these groups are calculated individually and then added to determine the overall winner of the award for Best Achieving Living Area.

The ladies of Huis Francie, dressed in bridal gowns and white sneakers, also had a runaway victory in the SU Kleinsêr competition. Click here for a video of their performance in the final, which was held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on 23 August.

They then proceeded to the national competition, the ATKV Universities’ Sêr 2014, which was held on 30 August at the University of Johannesburg, where they won a well-deserved third place.

The ladies of this residence excel not only in the academic and cultural fields, they are also actively involved in sustainable development. Their dedication and cooperation in this area was rewarded with first place in the green competition of the Tygerberg Campus. Read more about this in the article on green initiatives.

Article by Mandi Barnard
Photograph on this page by Dominique Breakey
Photograph on previous page of Kleinsêr by Edo Photography

 

Selected students visit FMHS

Ms Farah Fredericks, (in the middle of the front row), accompanied the group to the Stellenbosch University Recruitment Bursary Information evening at the DF Malan hall on Stellenbosch campus.

The Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS) recently hosted 55 of its top, newly selected black students at the Tygerberg campus, with the aim of affording them an opportunity to experience the campus, its students and staff, as well as inspire and motivate them to choose to study at Stellenbosch University (SU) in 2015.

 

This recruitment initiative, the Visit@Tygerberg, which was held from 7-9 October 2014, forms part of the FMHS’s strategic initiatives to advance diversity and excellence at SU.

The visit’s programme consisted of information sessions on bursaries, workshops on academic support at SU, tours of the facilities at the faculty including the clinical skills centre, the Medical Morphology Museum, dissection labs, Tygerberg residences and the student centre. Along with a group of current SU student ambassadors, the group also took part in an open discussion on their attitudes toward SU which gave the organisers a lot of insight into possible barriers and negative perceptions students have about SU.

All students who participated in the programme were awarded a Recruitment Bursary, which covers the programme cost for a maximum of 4 years. The group also attended the Stellenbosch University Recruitment Bursary Information evening at the DF Malan hall on Stellenbosch campus on 8 October 2014.

By Farah Fredericks
 

 

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A hat trick for Steinhoff Medies

The jubilant Steinhoff Medies after their third consecutive win.

The rugby men of the Tygerberg campus scored a hat trick when they won the coveted Sauer league for the third time in a row this year.  It is the first time in the history of this competition that a team managed to do this.

They were up against Steinhoff Eendrag in the finals and won the game with a convincing score of 17 – 0.

Matie excels as a world-class equestrian

Eleni Stias at the World Equestrian Games (WEG) 2014 in Normandy, France.

There is no doubt that the students of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences are truly talented. This was proven once again by Eleni Stias, a fourth year medical student who - when not studying - spends her time doing gymnastics on horseback.  

Eleni was selected as a member of the squad who represented South Africa at the World Equestrian Games (WEG) 2014 in Normandy, France. They participated in equestrian vaulting which is most often described as gymnastics and dance on horseback.


 

A hat trick for Steinhoff Medies

Steinhoff Medies’ players and team members celebrate the third consecutive win of the Sauer Cup.

The rugby men of the Tygerberg campus scored a hat trick when they won the coveted Sauer league for the third time in a row this year.  It is the first time in the history of this competition that a team managed to do this.

 

They were up against Steinhoff Eendrag in the finals and won the game with a convincing score of 17 – 0.

Medical student, Le Roux Viljoen, is one of six fifth-year students who were part of all three of these historical games.  Le Roux captained the team in 2012 when they won against Steinhoff Eendrag with a score of 18 – 13.  In 2013, the injured Le Roux took up the coaching position and led the team to a 14 – 5 win against Steinhoff PSO.

Six members of this talented group were named best residence player in their positions for 2014 and selected for the Barbarians team. They are the coach Ruan Vorster from Somerset West, flyhalf Johan du Preez (fourth-year medical student), inside center Terblanche (fifth-year medical student), outside centre Gys Neethling (fifth-year medical student), right wing PJ le Grange (fourth-year physiotherapy student) and lock Le Roux Viljoen (fifth-year medical student).

Viljoen summarized the team’s success as follows: “Steinhoff Medies’ success can be attributed to hard work and effective planning, combined with the seniority of players. Included in the group are four final year students, six fifth-year students and five fourth-year students. With this group of players included, the average age of players in the team peaked above 22 years, a statistic which cannot be equalled by any other residence team. This provides a huge pool of experience from which we can draw. Dividends are clear if one hears we were privileged enough to be able to play in four finals from 2010 to 2014, winning three of them. Six of the current players have played in more than 50 Sauer matches, an accomplishment almost as big as the Sauer Cup competition itself.”
 

“We have an incredible camaraderie in the team. It is nice to begin with classes on 5 January and on the same day, between 25 and 30 students will pitch for the first practice. We live together, study together in class, work together in hospital and then bring a long day to an end with a practice session in the outdoors.”
By winning the Sauer Cup, the team has once again qualified to represent Stellenbosch University in the nationwide Varsity Cup. Maties, alias Stellenbosch University, enters three teams into three leagues: Maties 1 in the senior tournament, the Maties Young Guns in the 0/20 junior tournament and Steinhoff Medies, which will represent Maties in the Residence Rugby Championships.

Medies Rugby says farewell to a legend in the form of Mr Danie Roux, the president of Medies Rugby, who will be retiring after 18 years of involvement with the team.

By Mandi Barnard

 

Matie excels as a world-class equestrian

There is no doubt that the students of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences are truly talented. This was proven once again by Eleni Stias, a fourth year medical student who - when not studying - spends her time doing gymnastics on horseback. 

Eleni was selected as a member of the squad who represented South Africa at the World Equestrian Games (WEG) 2014 in Normandy, France. They participated in equestrian vaulting which is most often described as gymnastics and dance on horseback.

According to Eleni, it takes a lot of hard work, dedication and determination during preparation to represent your country in an international competition. “The team is based in Johannesburg which meant I was spending every second weekend this year there on training camps, as well as training in Hout Bay during the week,” she said.  

Team SA underwent three weeks of intensive training in preparation for the WEG during August on borrowed horses in Munich, Germany as it is not possible to take your own horse overseas.  

The team competed during the first week of September and finished in eighth place overall,  the second highest placed non-European country and a mere 0.037 points behind the USA team.

Eleni said the theme of their freestyle performance was 'The Rainbow Nation'. “It was a tribute to late president Nelson Mandela which was very well received by the international crowd.”

This excerpt was taken from an article on the Fédération Équestre Internationale (FEI) website after the second round:

“The South African squad produced an inspiring and emotional performance based on the principle of equality in both sport and life, and the voice of the late and much-loved South African statesman, Nelson Mandela, added an extra poignancy to their programme. Many spectators and officials were seen brushing tears from their eyes as an essay on tolerance and reconciliation was played out...”  International Federation for Equestrian Sports

Click here to watch a video of the team competing at the WEG:

By Mandi Barnard

Eleni Stias (standing) and two team members during their freestyle performance at the World Equestrian Games (WEG) 2014 in Normandy, France.