Wits to expand healthcare capacity

Prof Tobias

The University of the Witwatersrand Faculty of Health Sciences is a key partner in the broad strategy by government to improve the delivery of healthcare services to the country. As such, the Faculty of Health Sciences is steadily increasing its annual intake of students at all levels.

In an effort to meet the ever increasing demand from students for professional degrees, the Faculty is continuing to expand its facilities. In line with this comes the recent purchase by the University of the former Human Rights Building in Parktown, which will now become the Phillip V Tobias Health Sciences Building. The rationale behind the name is to continue the legacy of Professor Emeritus Phillip V Tobias, who dedicated over 50 years of his life to the Faculty and was a notable defender of human rights.

Apart from his contribution to teaching and human rights awareness, Professor Tobias was one of South Africa’s most honoured and decorated scientists, and a world leading expert on human prehistory. He was nominated three times for a Nobel Prize, received numerous honorary doctorates and had been awarded South Africa’s Order for Meritorious Service. He published over 600 journal articles and authored or co-authored 33 books.

The new Phillip V Tobias building will permit the consolidation of many of the Faculty’s functions, thereby releasing additional space for both research and teaching facilities within the existing Medical School building.

“In a time of economic challenge and global competition for philanthropy, the fundraising to support South Africa’s great universities has been most encouraging. This reflects an understanding of the need for sustained investment in teaching and research  to remain cornerstones of Wits’ excellence and ability to seed the nation with hugely-needed healthcare professionals. However, an additional R15 million is required to complete the project and I would like to issue a plea to philanthropists to donate to this worthy cause,” says the Dean of the Faculty, Professor Ahmed A Wadee.

Professor Wadee explains that in such a critical vocation as healthcare, there can be no room for failure, hence the need for student counselling, tutoring and mentoring. Continuous holistic development of students is vital. The Faculty already has an overall 85% to 95% pass rate per year of study. “This bears testament to the success of our mentoring and tutoring programmes, and is the foundation of our high pass rate,” explains Professor Wadee.

Professor Wadee says: “Professor Tobias left a legacy of his students being his family. We believe that a consolidated student facility in the new building- a place students can call their own – would have delighted him.”