UKZN recently hosted a joint meeting of the South African Committee of Health Sciences Deans (SACOHSD), the Committee of Medical Deans and the Committee of Dental Deans to deliberate on matters in health sciences Higher Education.

Professor Salim Abdool Karim, Director for the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA) and President of the Medical Research Council (MRC), presented his proposal for the revitalisation of the MRC which was strongly endorsed by the meeting.

The meeting also confirmed its support for the Academy of Sciences of South Africa to implement the Lancet Report on Training Health Professionals for the 21st Century.

There was a robust discussion on the successes and challenges of the Clinical Training Grant together with the Infrastructure and Efficiency Grant from the perspective of the Deans as well as the Department of Higher Education and Training represented by Ms Brenda Swart and Mr Temwa Moyo.

UKZN has held the chairmanship of the SACOHSD since its inception 2008. Dean and Head of the School of Health Sciences at UKZN, Professor Sabiha Essack, has been instrumental as co-founder and chair in getting SACOHSD recognised as a co-aligned community of practice by Higher Education South Africa (HESA)

Essack has also assisted in getting recognition for the committee’s:
- role in expanding the clinical training grant to cover a wider range of health professional disciplines;
- for the 240 credit diploma to facilitate the training of mid-level workers; and
- national conferences on rehabilitation professionals within the public sector in 2011 and training health care professionals for the 21st century in 2012.

Among other prestigious appointments, Essack is President of the South African Chapter of the Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics (APUA), a Ministerial appointee on the National Health Research Ethics Council 2010-12, and Co-ordinator to the Africa Higher Education Collaborative which is a four-country Ford Foundation-funded initiative run by the Centre for the International Exchange of Scholars in the United States.

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