NWU’s WIN Project continues to enrich lives in rural areas

Christi Cloete -- Wed, 08/26/2015 - 09:19

NWU’s WIN Project continues to enrich lives in rural areas

The Faculty of Health Sciences at the North-West University (NWU) recently reached another milestone by enriching the lives of people in the rural Northern Cape and North West provinces.

The WIN project is an umbrella project, combining 13 sub-projects of the health sciences disciplines from the faculty with a strong emphasis on building intersectorial partnerships to holistically improve rural health and well-being. This project has grown in the past year with other faculties of the NWU joining the health sciences disciplines to empower and improve these communities through partnerships. These partnerships also provide students with the opportunity to prepare for their professions through work-integrated learning and community-beneficial workshops, training opportunities and interventions.

Employing research and/or intervention activities, different subject groups of each school of the Faculty of Health Sciences addresses three key aspects of rural health and well-being, namely physical health, socio-economic and psycho-social well-being, and food and nutrition security.

According to Prof Annemarie Kruger, building long-term effective intersectoral partnerships with communities, local governments and the private sector to ensure successful and sustainable project outcomes is of equal importance. “Moreover, emphasis is put on practical training of students in health and social professions to deliver experts in rural health and social services, advancing rural communities in our country in the long term.”

The WIN Project was initiated after the cross-sector collaboration of partnerships between the NWU's Potchefstroom Campus, the Vaalharts Water Association and the Phokwane Municipality in the Northern Cape and the North West province. Research findings highlighted the high vulnerability in this region, characterised by inadequate infrastructure and basic services as well as poor health statuses and low income-earning opportunities. Since the end of 2011 various research programmes, interventions and workshops have been implemented within these communities, employing multilevel transdisciplinary research on sustainable livelihoods, health and well-being to uplift, empower and sustain these vulnerable rural areas. Currently nine disciplines and three research units within the Faculty of Health Sciences are involved, two disciplines from the School of Environmental Sciences and Development and four disciplines from the Faculty of Economic and Information Technology.

One of WIN’s partners who make it possible for us to supply support in primary health care in the communities is Umsinsi Health Care (ConvaTec). They are the proud sponsors of a mobile clinic for one of the communities in which the WIN project is situated. The Department of Health in the Northern Cape is the other partner in this initiative. They will take full responsibility for the running costs of this mobile clinic. The beneficiary community is in the Frances Baard District, Phokwane Municipality, Northern Cape.

“This initiative, we believe, will provide support and relief to primary health services in these resource-poor communities. Through the collaboration efforts of the various faculties we hope that one day we can create a sustainable, healthy environment for the vulnerable and neglected communities,” says Prof Kruger.