22 April 2004

Health and human rights workshop

The theme of this year's Health and Human Rights workshop was children's rights and the Children's Bill, which is currently before parliament.

The Institutions of Higher Education for Health Professionals in the Western Cape traditionally collaborate to host a joint meeting on health and human Rights to coincide with Human Rights Day in March.

The workshop, held on March 19 at the Red Cross Children's Hospital, aimed to raise awareness among health workers on issues relating to children's rights in health care, provide publicity for children's rights and where appropriate, provide recommendations to support children's rights relating to the anti-retroviral rollout programme.

The workshop also enabled participants to get involved in lobbying relating to the Children's Bill by providing information, which participants could use in their own activities and making recommendations for the various working groups currently drafting proposals around the bill.

Paula Proudlock of the Children's Institute spoke on the Children's Bill, while advocate, Karrisha Pillay, discussed children's rights.

This year the workshop was attended by 98 people and included those representing government (health department), higher education institutions, students in various health disciplines, doctors, allied health sciences, NGOs, lawyers, health professions as well as associations such as DENOSA and SAMA.

Spinal unit opens

The Acute Spinal Cord Injury Unit, transferred to Groote Schuur Hospital a year ago after closure of the Conradie Hospital, was officially opened by local health MEC Piet Meyer. The moved, part of the province's Health Care 2010 Plan, has combined services and increased capacity, saving the provincial government R145-million. The unit consists of six beds for intensive care and 12 ward beds. In just over 11 months, 162 patients from the Western Eastern and Northern Cape have been treated at the new facility. The unit boasts a helipad, high-tech scanners, and access to the full range of healthcare professionals at GSH, facilitating efficient treatment and service.

New civil society fellowships

Out in the leafy environs of the beautiful Franschoek Valley, UCT guests and scholars gathered at the inauguration of the new fellowship programme for doctoral and master's students, created by The David and Elaine Potter Charitable Trust.

Hosted on the Potter's Franschoek farm, guests at the dinner included trustees of The David and Elaine Potter Charitable Foundation as well as vice-chancellor Professor Njabulo Ndebele and DVC for research and innovation Professor Cheryl de la Rey.

But the special guests were the five students who have been awarded fellowships for their degrees: Jacqui Fielding (PhD, biological anthropology), Babalwa Cwane (MSocSci, library and information sciences), Sue Moses (MSocSci, development studies), Trish Zweig (MSc, environmental science) and Graham Rowe (MSc, botany).

In his welcome, Dr Potter said the foundation had instituted the awards for personal and strategic reasons. Both he and his wife were born in South Africa, and having lived abroad for 40 years, wished to give back to the land of their birth, he said. He has longstanding connections with UCT. His grandfather founded engineering studies at the old South African College almost 100 years ago. His grandmother was one of UCT's first women graduates - and the first woman president of the Student's Union.

Potter said the couple hoped the fellowship would make a considerable contribution to South Africa's quest to lead Africa to full global participation and that the country would strive to become a leader among nations.

The foundation, he added, would support and encourage civil society in South Africa. "Civil society is the foundation of an effective and democratic society - it enables the rule of law, pluralism, the dissemination of responsibility and the balance of power in society."

The fellowships will support individual seminar programmes exploring ideas in law, science, technology and development, the economy and human rights - all important to civil society.

Workers' march on Bremner

Students and workers marched last week to hand over a petition in support of workers employed by outsourced companies contracted to UCT. Among the demands in the petition was a call for a code of good practice to ensure the workers earn a living wage. DVC Prof Martin West, who took receipt of the petition at Bremner, said UCT was already in the process of doing an audit on the practices and conditions of service of the companies concerned with the view to developing such a code.

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