13 December 2022 | Story André Damons | Photo André Damons
Dr Benny Malakoane
Dr Benjamin ‘Benny’ Malakoane, former MEC for Health in the Free State, graduated with a PhD specialising in Community Health during the University of the Free State (UFS) December graduation ceremonies on Monday.

Dr Benjamin ‘Benny’ Malakoane, former MEC for Health in the Free State, graduated with a PhD specialising in Community Health during the University of the Free State (UFS) December graduation ceremonies, and is already considering his next PhD qualification.

The university’s December graduation ceremonies wrapped up on Monday (12 December 2022) with the Faculty of Health Sciences conferring degrees on its students. 

According to Dr Malakoane, who is a medical doctor, he is considering his next PhD on the effectiveness of available finance in either enabling or disabling health care service delivery. Prof Christo Heunis, Associate Professor in the UFS Centre for Health Systems Research and Development, was his supervisor. Prof Willem Kruger, Head of the Department of Community Health, Dr Perpetual Chikobvu, Affiliated Lecturer in the Department of Community Health, Prof Gladys Kigozi, Senior Researcher in the Centre for Health Systems Research and Development, were co-supervisors.

Immortalise the knowledge

“Achieving a PhD is a culmination of one’s efforts to propel yourself above your ordinary abilities. In this instance, my PhD found application in community health, while my master’s qualification was in family medicine; the PhD was informed by the model I developed – called the Health Systems Governance and Accountability Model – which I implemented when I was the MEC of Health in this province. I taught the model to all employees in the department; how to implement, monitor, and evaluate it using the balance scorecard,” says Dr Malakoane.

According to him, knowing that he would be leaving the Free State Department of Health and that everything he had taught officials in the department would be leaving with him, he decided to immortalise the knowledge and a tool for its implementation and monitoring through his PhD studies. 

It took him four years to complete this qualification – time he would invest again in another PhD qualification, as bettering yourself and qualifying yourself is evolution and propelling yourself to a level beyond your ordinary achievements, says Dr Malakoane. 

“If you are on a constant quest for meaning, you will always try to achieve and rise above competition.”

Health systems is fragmented 

He is hoping that his study titled, The Health System Governance and Accountability Model for health service Integration and Performance Improvement in the Free State Province, will help to address fragmentation in health systems and strengthen and contribute to progressive improvement in leadership/management in the Free State public health sector.  

“The quest to contribute to a body of knowledge was such that one needed to tell the world out there that health systems are fragmented and that there is a way to solve it. Here is a system I developed, and this is how you implement, monitor, and evaluate it. Without that contribution, my thesis would not have produced the manuscripts that I published. 

“It would not have had the type of citations that it now has, because my original manuscript had 75 citations and the third paper on development of the model had about 24 citations, which tells me that people are reading about fragmentation of health systems, and they are in constant search for solutions to the problems found in health systems.” 

Dr Malakoane says the biggest reason why South Africa is suffering (with a health system under pressure) is because systems are not effectively implemented, which goes with the character of the people in power. 

According to him, these people do not have the suitable gumption to implement policy, because it takes a person of particular character to implement policy or to translate law into implementable policy and to cash in on the experience of implementation in the form of an achievable outcome with the purpose for which the policy was developed.

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