The Academy of Science of South Africa hosted a workshop to discuss transforming the education of health professionals for the 21st century on 24 July 2012. South Africa is one of seven countries selected to hold workshops as part of the InterAcademy Medical Panel’s (IAMP) effort to disseminate the Lancet Commission report recommendations to its member medical academies. The other selected countries are Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Sweden. Dr. Barry Kistnasamy of South Africa’s National Health Laboratory Service was one of the 20 global academic leaders who served on the Lancet Commission.
There were 26 participants in the workshop, representing academia, health profession associations, and the Department of Health. After an overview of the Lancet report’s findings by Prof Marietjie de Villiers of Stellenbosch University, a response was outlined by Prof Ben van Heerden, of the Medical and Dental Board of the Health Professions Council of South Africa. Prof Sabiha Essack, chair of the South African Committee of Health Sciences Deans, reported on feedback from their recent conference where the Lancet paper was also integral to discussions.
Discussions were very fruitful, and participants unanimously agreed that the report provides valuable recommendations and that South Africa needs to take urgent concrete actions to reform the education of its health professionals. There was also consensus that the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) is independent and ideally placed to champion a reformation initiative.
Participants unanimously agreed that the ASSAf undertake a consensus study to make recommendations on the reformation. A group of seven experts agreed to form a committee to assist ASSAf in drafting a proposal for this consensus study and plans are underway for further discussions with this committee.