Health Systems and Services Research
Through SURMEPI the profile of undergraduate research has increased. More students are interested and a few students have done interesting research projects that they presented at national and international conferences (International Union against TB and lung disease, South African Association of Helath Educationalists, Rural Doctors Assiciation of South Africa, and the Public Health Association of South Africa). They received guidance, supervision and mentorship from SURMEPI staff members. There is a on going dialogue between the dean of research, the ethics committee and the centre for health professions education and steps are being taken to further formalize the undergraduate research support with the aim of making research interesting and accessible for undergraduate students. Ultimately the aim is to inspire a significant number of undergraduate students to conduct research from early on in their curriculum.
South Africa is a country with a high TB burden. Health care workers in South Africa are 3 to 5 times more likely to get TB than the general population. A health care worker with TB is a risk for patients. With the increased prevalence of Multi Drug Resistant TB in South Africa more health care works are affected by this terrible disease. Many of them are unable to work, some loose their hearing because of the treatment and others pass away. In South Africa, a country with a critical shortage of health care workers, we have to make sure every one of them can contribute fully to the health care system. TB infection in health care workers has to be prevented. Some SURMEPI staff members are clinicians who suffered from TB. They started a movement called TB Proof. The aim is to educate health science students about the changing TB epidemic, help them to understand the risk and how they can protect themselves. Research conducted has proven that the intervention that has been rolled out to more than 1500 students is effective. We hope that they will be agents of change in the health care system. TB Proof is growing in leaps and bounds and is currently developing a student guideline on TB for Stellenbosch University.