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Forensic Pathology Institute      

South Africa’s high crime rate and a lack of sufficient resources in forensic pathology have given rise to excessively high rates of unsolved murder cases. Unanswered questions, surrounding the death of loved ones, is a harsh reality that thousands of citizens face every day. The Division of Forensic Medicine at UCT has undertaken to set right this injustice to the dignity of crime victims through the establishment of a new Forensic Pathology Institute.

The facility is poised to be more than just a mortuary. It will allow for pathologists to be trained and work as expert consultants to investigators, courts, prosecutors and defence counsel. In this way, the Institute will provide a comprehensive service that will include improved quality of responses to questions of loved ones regarding cause of death, manner, and any other peri-mortem/ante-mortem circumstances. More importantly this centre will enable many unsolved or cold cases to be reopened and investigated with the latest technology and expertise. The centre will be constructed in Observatory, Cape Town, at the corner of Main Road and Groote Schuur Road, at the entrance to the historic Groote Schuur Hospital. ;

The Forensic Pathology Institute is a joint undertaking of the Western Cape Government Department of Health and UCT’s Division of Forensic Medicine. The share of construction costs are such that government has committed over R200 million and UCT will fundraise R21 700 000 to cover the costs of equipment for laboratory, dissection, and teaching spaces.

African Paediatric Fellowship Programme

The goal of the African Paediatric Fellowship Programme (APFP) is to transfer specialised skills to child health care professionals in Africa, especially where resources for such training are minimal. With access to the facilities of Africa’s largest and only stand-alone specialist hospital for children, the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital, the programme creates opportunities for practitioners from the African continent to gain fundamental training in focused paediatric areas. The APFP was established in 2007 in the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health at UCT. To address the skills shortage in paediatric health care in Africa, the APFP has been building regional capacity by offering medical training within the spectrum of diseases that are prevalent in the African setting.  Working in partnership with hospitals and training institutions across Africa, the APFP equips carefully selected doctors and rehabilitation therapists with specialist and subspecialist skills required to advance child health in Africa, and collaborates with the equivalent training programme for nurses. Since 2009, our donors have enabled the APFP to grow and mature from a fledgling initiative enrolling 7 fellows in its first year, to the current enrolment of 41.  In total, donor support has facilitated the APFP’s training of 88 fellows from 14 African countries. The annual cost of a Fellowship is calculated at R 300 000 per year over two years of the programme.

Perinatal Mental Health Project

The Perinatal Mental Health Project (PMHP) addresses the crisis of maternal mental illness in South Africa. It is the only project of its kind in South Africa, and only one of a handful in the developing world. Formally commended by the World Health Organisation, it was founded in 2002 with the primary objective of achieving universal maternal mental health care.  Through service provision to 3000 at-risk women and girls annually, at 4 obstetric facilities (Mowbray Maternity Hospital, False Bay Hospital, Hanover Park Midwife Obstetric Unit and Retreat Midwife Obstetric Unit) the PMHP aims to develop the necessary models in order for the Department of Health (DOH) to scale-up and roll-out integrated, quality maternal mental health care nationally.

PMHP’s primary objective is to provide mental health screening for pregnant women and girls and free counselling as part of routine antenatal care. Its secondary objective is to prepare the environment and enhance scalability of maternal mental health services. Therefore, the PMHP trains the next generation of health practitioners and provides in-service professional development for health workers in the maternity setting, reaching approx. 700 health workers per year, including community health workers. It conducts applied research to develop, evaluate and optimise maternal mental health service models. The PMHP’s advocacy programme addresses stigma, raises awareness and ensures research uptake. Donor support helps to supplement the total annual budget of R 4 800 000.

Drug Discovery Centre (H3D)

Translating basic disease biology into new medicines is challenging anywhere in the world, but in Africa it is a daunting task because of infrastructure, technology and expertise gaps, along with a lack of financial resources. Over the last six years, UCT’s Drug Discovery and Development Centre, H3D – the first and only one of its kind in Africa – has been harnessing modern pharmaceutical industry skills along with the development of the relevant infrastructure, enabling technologies, and expertise. In this relatively short period, H3D has made ground breaking history by leading an international effort that has led to the discovery of Africa’s first potential malaria medicine in partnership with Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV).

Currently a clinical development candidate, MMV048 not only has the potential to impact both malaria control and elimination by reaching that milestone, it has also already shown that major advances in scientific and clinical research are possible at H3D. This progress has brought H3D to a major inflection point where it now needs to achieve long term sustainability on one hand while on the other hand expand significantly in order to achieve critical mass in disease areas of focus, as well as in underpinning scientific disciplines. We are currently fundraising for a Chair in Drug Discovery, with an annual funding target of R 2 500 000.

Southern Cape – Karoo Health Sciences Teaching Platform

Increasing the number of health science students and expanding the rural exposure that final year students receive in their training are two objectives of the Garden Route District Health Sciences Platform. The project involves the placement of medical and physiotherapy students in their final year at George, Knysna, Mossel Bay and Oudtshoorn Hospitals joining the clinical teams where they contribute to service delivery while learning hands-on. Expansion to Beaufort West as well as the inclusion of occupational therapy students is also planned.

The benefit is therefore twofold: students are exposed to a wide range of health challenges in a more rural setting, while these medical institutions benefit from the added expertise that accompanies the transition of a non-academic hospital to an academic hospital. With the movement and accommodation of senior students away from the Health Sciences Faculty base in Observatory, Cape Town, space is then available for the faculty to train a larger cohort of students. This will ultimately increase the number of health care practitioners that the university produces. Supplementary donor funding is needed for capital expenses on the student and staff residence, including a learning centre, as well as operating costs for the platform. The most important cost of the project relates to our students. Our budget is currently calculated at R 250 000 per student, with a total average of 30 students per year.

Inclusive Practices Africa              

The Institute for Disability Innovation Africa is intent on bridging the research and knowledge gap about people with disabilities since this largely unmet need has resulted in policies becoming stagnated as merely ‘in principle’ documents rather than bringing about change through implementation. The Institute is based in the Faculty of Health Sciences at UCT and endeavours to work through four key themes:

  1. Education programmes through African-focused knowledge systems
  2. Research and engaged scholarship with multiple stakeholders for reciprocal learning
  3. Public and private systems development through deepening collaboration
  4. Advocacy for inclusive change

The Institute will therefore serve as a vehicle to generate knowledge and innovation that advances the social inclusion of people with disabilities throughout the continent. The project is envisaged over a five-year plan that includes the establishment of a Research Chair in Disability Innovation, which incorporates bursaries for postgraduate researchers and funding for postdoctoral fellows. Operating under the auspices of an Institute, the project incurs infrastructural and running costs as well as staffing responsibilities to carry through the four themes across regional and international collaborations. The fundraising target is set at a total of R25 million over a period of five years.

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