Fact-finding: Sylvia Kambalametore, head of the Department of Physiotherapy at the University of Malawi's College of Medicine, explores co-operation possibilities with her UCT counterpart, Prof Jennifer Jelsma.
UCT's high-quality learning and teaching standards, coupled with its world-class equipment and academics, are expected to play an important supportive role in the development of the new Department of Physiotherapy at the University of Malawi's College of Medicine.
So says Sylvia Kambalametore, head of that department, after a week-long visit to UCT recently. She was on a study tour in Southern Africa to ascertain how the physiotherapy education programmes work at institutions in the region.
She was invited to spend time at UCT by Professor Dele Amosun of the Physiotherapy Division which is trying to strengthen links with African Universities offering physiotherapy programmes. The College of Medicine in Malawi has been sending medical doctors to UCT for specialist training for some years. Kambalametore was especially impressed by the high levels of professionalism in UCT's Division of Physiotherapy.
"That was very good and inspirational for me," she says.
Among features of the division that interested her was the quality of education, its modern equipment and its back-up services.
"All those activities are critical to me as they show what goes into producing a physiotherapy student," she noted. "To maintain good quality of education, which means good quality of health care for the people of Malawi, we needed to start well, and to start well we have to have the right mentor. UCT is the right place for that and our expectations for support from this university are very high."
Links between the two units can be mutually beneficial. The Malawian situation is similar to conditions in the rural areas of South Africa, and UCT students will need to think much broader when they have to work in such environments.
Professor Jennifer Jelsma, head of UCT's Division of Physiotherapy, hopes that students will be able to spend time learning from the good community-based rehabilitation approach the Malawians have.
"Reciprocal elective placement could be very useful." said Jelsma, emphasising that no decision has been taken, but that all co-operation possibilities will be explored.
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