New training hospital planned but med school quotas stay – Motsoaledi

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Plans are under way to build a new ‘world-class’ training hospital in Durban, said SA Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, while also rebuking critics of the race quota system for medical school admission.

According to a Sunday Tribune report, this was revealed by Minister of Health Dr Aaron Motsoaledi when responding to questions regarding the places-for-sale saga at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s (UKZN) medical school. He said a plot of land had already been identified for the hospital.

The report says Motsoaledi was speaking in the wake of the saga following an earlier statement by Minister of Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande, who welcomed the investigation. Nzimande also said it was the directive of the Department of Health to establish more medical schools. The issues surrounding the establishment of more medical schools in South Africa have been in the spotlight after the arrest of three people allegedly linked to a syndicate selling places to study medicine at UKZN.

Motsoaledi said in the report that it could not be disputed that there was a need for more medical schools in South Africa and more doctors in the world. He said the last time a medical school had been built in the country was 30 years ago. But Motsoaledi said the first step towards training more doctors was to increase the training at existing facilities because it was not easy to establish medical schools from scratch. The eight medical schools across the country have been increasing their intake of students since 2011.

Motsoaledi said that, according to the UN, the world would need 40m health-care professionals by 2030, of which 18m needed to be in sub-Saharan Africa. “This is why we already have to start working towards this goal. It is not just our goal, but a goal that our continent needs to work towards. We have engaged in the Cuban medical programme because Cuba has a population of 11m people and there are 27 medical schools in that country. Yet, South Africa has a population of over 50m and we have eight medical schools,” said Motsoaledi.

The report says the minister also highlighted the importance of quota policies at medical schools. “If there were no quota policies in place, I would not be a doctor today. Why do parents in Durban feel like the system is unfair to them? They need to realise that students can apply to other universities in the country.”

Sunday Tribune report

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