Primary Health Care (PHC) training is still stuck in disciplinary silos across both health professions and domains within the professions, says UKZN Family Medicine Head of Department, Dr Bernhard Gaede.
Speaking at a seminar at the University, Gaede said the current exploration of a PHC curriculum for professional health education at UKZN had strong historical roots – going back to the inception of the Medical School in the 1950s – and was evident in subsequent explorations such as the NICHE project in the Valley of 1000 Hills in KwaZulu-Natal in the early 1990s as well as later curriculum reforms in all the health professions.
Gaede discussed local and current approaches from the perspective of a much broader global phenomenon, including the shifts in policy at the World Health Organization, and international and local trends in the training of appropriate healthcare professionals to tackle 21st century health challenges.
‘Despite proposals and discussions over the past few years – including the development of the Decentralised Clinical Training Platform – many of the current approaches to curricular reforms have not yet yielded coherent results. With a high level commitment to re-curriculation taking place within the University to address imperatives of decolonising the curriculum as well as engaging with communities and focusing on producing fit-for-purpose graduates, a revision of the curriculum in all the health professions is also on the cards,’ he said.
Gaede felt that while there may be consensus at a conceptual level about the orientation of such a new curriculum, there was considerable divergence in the understanding of concepts such as PHC, transformative education and community engagement.
The seminar was part of a broader process of greater understanding and coherence within the College of Health Science moving on to a PHC and people-centered curriculum for health education at UKZN.
Words: Nombuso Dlamini