University can play major role in producing affordable medicine
August 3, 2017
Pretoria, South Africa: The Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training has appreciated the amount of vaccines research and discoveries at Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University (former Medunsa). However, it has also called for funding for medical research projects that are currently underway at the university.
The Acting Chairperson of the Committee, Charles Kekana said: “This is the kind of work that South Africans should be aware of about their own universities. The medical discoveries and the vaccines research at the Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University is something that the Committee appreciates and welcomes with warm hearts.”
He added the university could play a meaningful role in reducing the cost of procuring foreign manufactured vaccines in such fields as cancer research, TB and HIV.
“The potential is there for this university to improve on the service it has been providing to the country – both by way of medical research and output of doctors who are familiar with the South African environment and challenges,” he said.
The Committee heard that the university was at the forefront of the discoveries of Rota virus vaccine (for prevention of diarrhoea in children and has reduced deaths among children all over South Africa and Africa), the Hepatitis C vaccine which now forms part of the Expanded Programme on Immunisation in South Africa, as well as minimal invasive surgery using laparoscopy equipment in which SMU and DGMAH are the front runners of this in the country. But also that a number of exchange programmes have been entered into with universities in Africa, Europe and Japan.
“The Committee is proud of what this university, in its short existence and having faced challenges since the merger and de-merger with the University of Limpopo, has been able to achieve. The innovative nature of this university is encouraging,” Kekana said.
Kekana led the Committee on a full day’s programme to review the university’s governance, programmes and infrastructure challenges.
It was also revealed that government has availed about R1.2bn for infrastructure development at the university for the next five years.