In collaboration with the provincial Department of Health, the Faculty of Health Sciences and the Africa Unit for Transdisciplinary Health Research (AUTHeR) hosted the Dr Kenneth Kaunda District Research Day at the Potchefstroom Campus of the North-West University (NWU) on 2 November. This was the first such event held since 2017 and was a resounding success, with representatives from all four districts in North West and about 250 people in attendance. The event was proudly titled “Unmasked Research-4-Health” and succeeded in bringing together researchers, practitioners, postgraduate students and key role players in health research.
Research is an important part of healthcare and serves as an indicator of the continued efforts of healthcare professionals to develop and find ways to better understand and improve health-related problems and services in our province. At the same time, NWU academics and postgraduate students dedicate considerable time and effort to researching public and private healthcare systems, but too often these role players are not even aware of one another. In a survey of all health-related projects in North West in 2021, AUTHeR found 101 noteworthy projects in which the role players were not aware of one another. The Dr Kenneth Kaunda District Research Day was inspired and coordinated by Dr Carien Lion-Cachet, chair of the Dr Kenneth Kaunda District Research Committee, to provide a platform where clinicians and academics can come together and share health-related research conducted in North West. The goal is to strengthen relationships between the NWU Faculty of Health Sciences and the North West Department of Health (NWDoH) by creating a more effective platform for cooperation.
At the research day – for the first time ever – Prof Awie Kotzé (NWU), Prof Binu Luke (NWDoH), Prof Ebrahim Variava (Perinatal HIV Research Unit, PHRU) and Tanya Nielson (Aurum Institute) opened the day together. It was remarkable to realise that the NWU Faculty of Health Sciences is in possession of technology that cannot be found elsewhere in the country. Furthermore, the Klerksdorp/Tshepong Hospital Complex has a new nuclear medicine unit that is among the best in the country. The PHRU is currently engaged in groundbreaking research on pulmonary TB in particular, and the Aurum Institute was directly involved in Covid-19 vaccine clinical trials. Our very own North West is home to world-class technology and research.
As for the research content on the day, topics related mainly to clinical care and healthcare systems and human resources for healthcare. Presentation titles included the following:
Clinical outcomes in children admitted for malnutrition in Tlokwe Municipality, North-West Province: A comparative study of referral sources (Dr J Staats)
Intranasal permeation of phytochemicals of selected psychoactive medicinal plants across excised sheep nasal tissue (Mrs A Haasbroek-Pheiffer)
Perceptions of causes of death, particularly undiagnosed TB, among non-hospital deaths in a TB burden setting (Mr S Dubazana)
Biokinetics in Public Health: The B-Healthy project HR and health system (Prof H Moss)
Laws and ethics of care in the Cloud’s era: potential for medicolegal suits and jurisdictional implications for health care in South Africa (Prof U Useh)
Factors influencing clinical competence of young professional nurses employed at selected Public Hospitals of North-West Province: Operational Managers’ perspectives (Dr K Matlhaba)
Accountability and high turnover of registered nurses at Matlosana sub-district - primary health (Mrs P Nolan)
Text-based telehealth improves male circumcision services quality while reducing workload in urban and rural settings (Mr F Ndebele)
A transition to practice programme for community service nurses (Dr N Scheepers)
According to senior lecturer Dr Christi Niesing, “It was the first time that there was such a representation of so many levels of specialists from the Department of Health and the University and industry. It was a triple helix celebration of collaborative efforts.”
Going forward, AUTHeR would very much like to continue bridging the gap between academics and healthcare professionals by making the Dr Kenneth Kaunda District Research Day an annual event, in continued collaboration with the NWDoH.