Statement of Support from UCT FHS Executive Committee

14 Feb 2024
14 Feb 2024

Dear Staff and Student Colleagues 

The Faculty’s Executive Committee expresses its strong support for health professionals across the Western Cape health service platforms and for their open letter dated 4 February 2024  for provincial and national Treasury to reconsider the budget cuts currently being imposed nationally. We share their grave concern that the impact of these cuts will be felt most harshly amongst vulnerable communities reliant on public health services. 
The letter, addressed to the highest echelons of financial decision-makers, represents important role modelling by health professionals as health advocates — and serves as an inspiration for many health sciences students for their own future practice. I wish to acknowledge the leadership of our UCT colleagues for initiating this response on behalf of health professionals in the province. 

At UCT, we have always presented our learning as service, and service as an integrally educative relationship. The public health system makes a significant contribution to the education of future cadres of healthcare professionals, as our long-standing partnership with Western Cape Government Health and Wellness has illustrated. This is enabled by close collaboration of the university. 

There is much at stake for training on the academic health platforms. The 4 December 2023 media statement by the joint national Committees of Medical, Dental and Health Sciences Deans highlights the effect of the national chronic underfunding of health infrastructure and professional education and training. The education enterprise, which guarantees our nation future cohorts of well-prepared graduates, now anticipates even greater risks with reduction in available teaching clinicians. We concur with our colleagues that budget cuts would be a huge setback for the stability of our public health system and the education of future health professionals. The collaborative spirit between the service imperative and the educational enterprise has taken decades to build with highly competent and sought-after health professionals and specialists, committed workers and academic centres of excellence. 
While we are cognisant of the National Treasury being under fiscal strain, we urge greater protection of an accessible and equitable public health system as part of a priority investment in South Africa towards universal health coverage.  
We are continually engaged with the Western Cape Government and will continue to advocate for a strategic and more transparent application of the budget constraints to minimise the devastation that may accompany the current process.

Kaise ke gangans
Associate Professor Lionel Green-Thompson
Dean: Faculty of Health Sciences