Together with Research and Education, Community Service has been one of the corner-stones on which Stellenbosch University's Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences was established half a century ago.
A health sciences faculty is by its very nature an integral part of the society in which it operates - in particular through the delivery of clinical services. The FHS is no exception. However, we have recognised right from the start that, given the disease profile and health needs of our country and our continent, community interaction in the African context demands a much stronger commitment from our Faculty and a much broader definition.
A partnership exists between the Faculty and the Western Cape Government: Department of Health at the Tygerberg Academic Hospital, various regional hospitals and district level health facilities, as well as the National Health Laboratory Services. This provides the basis for engagement, at both the strategic and operational levels, between the university and the public health service in order to improve health while at the same time educating future health care professionals. The students (both at undergraduate and post graduate level) and clinical academics engage in the health service to provide a valuable service to the community, and are able to build a base of knowledge that will serve them well in their future careers in the health care system.
During their training, health professional experience health education at all levels in the health care system through our innovative community based education programme: in under-served metropolitan and rural areas, community health centres, family medicine practices, mobile clinics and schools, old age homes and the homes of patients, in the heart of various communities. In this respect, Stellenbosch has made a strategic decision to ensure that 50% of clinical training occurs in the community setting (at various regional hospitals, in the district health services and community based clinics and organisations). Part of this is a rotation in a rural environment. The latter is facilitated through the Ukwanda Centre for Rural Health and more recently the expansion of the platform to include the Ukwanda Rural Clinical School.
Our students are also involved in voluntary community work, facilitated by the student welfare organisation, Matie Community Service.
The faculty also partners with the private sector who support many aspects of teaching, training, and research.