The Nelson Mandela University (NMU) has opened its Medical School. The medical school is only the tenth of its kind in South Africa and one of two in the Eastern Cape. It is also the first medical school launched since the dawn of democracy.
The school will be located at the university's Missionvale campus, accommodating 50 students from an application pool of more than 5000. It is expected that 80 first year students will be enrolled at the medical school in the 2022 academic year.
The launch event was attended by Minister of Higher Education and Training Dr Blade Nzimande, MEC for health in the Eastern Cape Sindiswa Gomba, Mayor of Nelson Mandela Bay Eugene Johnson as well as Professor Zukiswa Zingela who serves as the Executive Dean of Health Sciences
The launch ceremony was opened with a 30 second silence for the loss of human life during the pandemic, and the sacrifices made by healthcare workers in the pandemic.
The medical facility will help address the primary healthcare challenges faced in South Africa, while simultaneously educating the next generation of healthcare workers. The education and training these students will receive will enable them to compete globally but not move away from its goal of serving the communities in Gqeberha and its surrounding communities.
Minister Blade Nzimande says that as a country we should be proud that we are launching such an excellent facility. He dedicated his remarks to the late Professor Lungile Pepeta.
Pepeta passed away in 2020 before the medical school, he played an instrumental role in envisioning, was opened. Nzimande said if the decision was taken to name the facility after the late professor he would support it.
Vice chancellor Professor Sibongile Muthwa of NMU says it is credit to all involved that the dream of the medical school at the university was realised. This as the opening of the facility was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. She conveyed her thanks to everyone involved including other institutions who collarated and provided advice to NMU.
She added “We hope that through such partnerships we will continue to discover groundbreaking socially responsive solutions to the vexing health challenges confronting our country, the African Continent and Globally”.
“Through the vision 2030 of our university we affirm our commitment to change the world through humanising education opportunities, innovative and trust disciplinary research and transformative engagement. In doing so, while the human and capital investment is significant for us, the returns for public health education and research will be even greater through improved health outcomes in our local communities reaching a nation” declared the Vice Chancellor.
NMU Chancellor Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi conveyed her thanks to everyone who contributed to what she describes as a bastion of human rights and a beacon of hope.
She said, “Our medical teaching and learning model is both student and community centred. It is designed to deliver healthcare in the spirit of making human rights real in the lives of people who need it most.
Chairperson of Council Nozipho January-Bardill says the school will play a crucial role in society. She hopes the students who graduate from the school will assist people who most need good healthcare in our country. She quoted the university’s namesake Nelson Mandela who said healthcare cannot be a question of income, but a question of human rights.
Eastern Cape Premier Lubalbalo Oscar Mabuyane congratulated the university for joining Walter Sisulu university as the second medical school in the province.
He said the hope for the university will produce medical professionals of exceptional skill who will prioritize human healing over profits. He also called for at least a portion of the facility to be named after the late Professor Lungile Pepeta.
He was joined in his call by SRC President Pontsho Hlongwane who called for the newly launched medical school to be named in his honour in order to protect his legacy.