Health Sciences to celebrate transformation

11 May 2002

Forging the future: The Health Sciences transformation function on May 9 will signal a formal break with the inequities of the past, as a new charter and declaration are adopted for all health care professionals graduating from the Faculty.

SPEAKING in his first address to the Faculty's Board meeting soon after he was appointed Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences in 1999, Professor Nicky Padayachee named transformation and equity as priorities in his strategic goals for the Faculty.

Three years later, and after vital progress on these fronts, the Faculty is holding a celebratory transformation function on May 9 to mark significant milestones in this process of renewal and change. Over 650 people, including staff, health officials and alumni, have been invited to the function, to be held in the main hall at the Baxter Theatre Centre. One of the guests of honour will be Dr Ralph Lawrence, now resident in the United Kingdom, one of UCT's first three blacks to graduate from the medical school in 1945.

The highlight of the ceremony will be the adoption of a new Faculty Charter, its principles based on features such as non-discrimination, capacity building, employment equity, high standards of teaching, fostering a supportive culture, high ethical standards of research, community service excellence, and community participation in decision-making. "This charter will mark a turning point in terms of our institutional culture," said Dr Gonda Perez, the Faculty's Transformation Officer.

"We're planning that each of the Faculty Heads of Department will take part in the recitation of the Charter, making a public commitment to its principles."

The function will also introduce the new seven-point Declaration of Commitment that health care professionals (including the allied health sciences) will recite during their graduation ceremony and which replaces the Hippocratic Oath. "This declaration embraces the values of the Faculty and the qualities we would like each of our health professionals to have," Perez said.

The declaration is the result of an extensive consultative process, involving its main author, Professor Solly Benatar, Director of the Centre for Bioethics in the Division of Medicine, and a specially formed committee of departmental representatives. However, the transformation event promises to be anything but a dry and sombre occasion as the injustices and inequities of the past are remembered. The past will be portrayed in an interactive programme of drama, incorporating the talents of UCT arts students, highlighting the difficulties faced by black medical students and graduates. "We want guests to leave with a feeling that the inequities and discrimination of the past will be addressed," Perez added.

"We want to create a sense of catharsis to enable the Faculty, its staff, students and graduates to embrace the future and move towards a more fitting institutional culture, one that offers opportunities for all those in the Faculty to reach their full potential."

If you would like to attend the function on May 9, contact Carin Masters on tel 406-6694 or

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