14 June 2019 | Story Eloise Calitz
University Consortium Launch
From left: Prof Francis Petersen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor, University of the Free State; Prof Pagollang Motloba, Chairperson of the Universities Consortium Steering Committee (Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University); Ms Montseng Margaret Ts’Iu, MEC, Department of Health in the Free State Province; and Mr Dan Mosia, Project Management Unit, Wits Health Consortium and member of the UFS Council.

Access to health care is important to all South Africans. Improved delivery of health-care services and employment of health-care graduates is one of the key priorities of the Universities Consortium. To achieve this, the National Department of Health (NDoH) – through a closed bid – invited universities with health-science faculties to bid for the testing of contracting mechanisms in the public health-care sector.

The bid brought six universities together to form the Universities Consortium. Through a collaborative approach, they will implement the newly developed service-delivery model.  Within the next three years, the consortium aims to impact the communities they serve in a positive way by providing much needed health-care services across the nine provinces.

The Universities Consortium comprises:

University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University
University of Fort Hare
University of Pretoria
Nelson Mandela University
University of the Free State

The launch

The launch of the consortium was held on 6 June 2019 in the Centenary Complex at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein. This provided an opportunity for fruitful engagements with representatives from the consortium. The launch was attended by the MEC of Health in  the Free State Province, Ms Montseng Margaret Ts’lu, who welcomed the commitment of the universities in the consortium and thanked them for lending a helping hand to make sure that government succeed in providing these health services.

Prof Francis Petersen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS, said the role of the university is to educate, train, and do continuous research to keep up to date with developments in various disciplines in order to enable positive change in the quality of life in our society. "Our knowledge should be used to impact our communities," Prof Petersen said. He further stated that it would be important that the ideas generated would provide much needed access to health care for all South Africans.

 The purpose of the Universities Consortium

1. The Universities Consortium will support national health delivery by assisting in the employment of graduates providing services while they complete their statutory internships/community service period.  
2. The consortium will also provide administrative and technical support to the NDoH. 
3. Universities will train professionals in accredited facilities.
4. The Universities Consortium proposed an operating model that will ensure the placement of health professionals in academic primary-care complexes.  
5. To align with the objectives of the NHI Bill 2018, the model envisages the academic primary-care complex as a contracting unit to promote sustainable, equitable, appropriate, efficient, and effective public funding for the purchasing of health-care services.
6. Wits Health Consortium (WHC), a wholly owned company of the University of the Witwatersrand, will support the Universities Consortium with key project management, financial, and administrative support for the duration of the project.

One of the key drivers of success for the Universities Consortium is collaboration and the effective implementation of this model. In the long term, the model will have a significant impact on health-care service delivery and job creation in this sector.

WATCH: NHI Universities Consortium Launch

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