2020. Wow, it was a year of the unexpected for students, staff, and the entire world in general. During this year, I served as the chair of the Postgraduate Health Sciences Student Council and the student representative of the postgraduate student oversight and advocacy task team. It was really a year filled with meetings as we had to plan for the postgraduate community, including local and international students. As a team, we ensured that postgraduate students had everything necessary to complete their degrees. We promoted social justice by ensuring that at each level of Faculty governance, postgraduate students were considered as key players and important stakeholders in decision making given the re-occurring problem of student victimisation by supervisors.
With the unexpected advance of COVID-19, I was involved with the COVID-19 task team, which worked to ensure a safe return home of all students. We held weekly meetings in the interest of keeping staff and students up to date with the evolving situation. We also engaged with the Western Cape Department of Health on allowing student volunteers to help in combating the pandemic, by calling for student volunteers in final years for the following areas:
Emergency Call Centre: This involved 12-hour shifts fielding calls from the public and knowing how best to answer or refer a broad range of issues. It did not involve direct contact with suspected cases.
Contact Tracing: This involved tracing the contacts of each person who has tested positive, mostly telephonically. Similarly, it did not involve direct contact with suspected cases.
Screening and Testing: Screening involved administering a questionnaire, whereas testing follows training in taking throat swabs from Persons Under Investigation (PUI) while wearing protective gear and carries greater risk.
During COVID-19, I also worked as a tutor assisting first year MBChB and Health and Rehabilitation students. One of my major goals is to train and inspire young South African students that will become proud ambassadors for the country and forebearers of health reform. I am aware of the important role South Africa plays in leading many initiatives and innovations that place in Africa on the global map, especially the government’s improvement of quality of life, youth empowerment and health care of her citizens.
I was grateful to work with the Postgraduate Health Sciences Student Council (PGHSSC), the Health Sciences Students Council (HSSC) and the Deanery in the Faculty of Health Sciences last year.
Chair of Postgraduate Health Sciences Students’ Council
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