UFH Faculty of Health Sciences partners in strategic NIH funded HIV research programme to benefit EC

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The University of Fort Hare’s Faculty of Health Sciences is partnering with the Desmond Tutu Foundation, the University of Cape Town, Walter Sisulu University and the University of California on a research and training programme to build research capacity on HIV in the Eastern Cape.

The programme which will commence on the 1st of April 2023, is funded by Fogarty International Center under the National Institute of Health's (NIH) D4 grant.

According to recent statistics, the Eastern Cape is in the top three provinces with the highest HIV prevalence at 13.4%. The burden of the disease in the province was such that in 2018 it was the second leading underlying natural cause of death with a 5.9% prevalence rate. Thus, making such partnerships and any other efforts to combat HIV in the province, beneficial.

Relatively new, the Faculty was formed seven years ago when its programmes were separated from the Faculty of Sciences and Agriculture. It currently has five departments namely: Nursing Science, Rehabilitative Studies, Natural Sciences, Human Movement and Public Health which offers qualifications ranging from bachelor degrees to doctoral degrees.

Committed to forging strategic partnerships and community engagements to ensure the delivery of quality holistic healthcare in an equitable, effective and economically sustainable manner to, the Nursing Sciences Department recently launched a first-of-its-kind mobile clinic that will take healthcare services to the rural and remote areas in the Eastern Cape. The mobile clinic, along with a 22-seater was a result of a R1million grant from DHET and partnership between the Faculty, Buffalo City Metro Health District and the Eastern Cape Department of Health.

According to the Dean, Prof Mzikazi Nduna, the grant from the NIH is the third grant the Faculty has received that is purely aimed at capacity-building at a PhD level.   

“We are committed to supporting early career academics and deem such partnerships vital to achieving this. The other two research grants are the SA-United Kingdom Stirling capacity-building grant from the Department of Higher Education and Training which is led by Dr Gwebu, as well as the South African Medical Research Council capacity-building grant under the leadership of Prof Maya van Gent.”

The Faculty also has a longstanding relationship with the University of Pretoria's Centre for Human Rights where its staff contributes to teaching in the Advanced Course on Sexual Minorities. Recently, Prof Mzi Nduna taught a session on the Myths of Heteronormality and fluidity in expression.