Scholarships and grants worth R27 million awarded to medical specialists and institutions for education and training

23 August 2019 Discovery

Scholarships and grants worth R27 million awarded to medical specialists and institutions for education and training

• Discovery, through its independent trust, Discovery Foundation, awarded 42 grants to medical specialists working in SA’s healthcare sector
• The grants support academic research and clinical science, sub-specialist training, rural medicine and programmes to develop public healthcare resources.
• Since 2006, the Discovery Foundation has invested more than R230 million towards training and support for more than 400 medical specialists and institutions.
• The Discovery Foundation was set up in 2006 as part of Discovery’s BBBEE transaction, with the aim of addressing the shortage of primarily black specialists in South Africa’s healthcare sector. The Foundation aims to invest 75% of its funding in the development of black specialists.

Now in its thirteenth year, Discovery is pleased to announce the 42 recipients of its 2019 Foundation Awards, providing doctors and institutions with support for the development of critical solutions for under-resourced and rural areas. A total of R27 million in research and training grants will be distributed to benefit medical specialists and institutions in the public health sector enabling them to further clinical research, gain much-needed specialist training, and build capacity in areas where skills shortages exist.

Dr Vincent Maphai, Chairman of the Discovery Foundation, says, “These funds will go towards much-needed research and improved patient care in cancer, heart disease, TB, mother and child health, mental health and other areas, to improve the quality of healthcare across South Africa.”

The Discovery Foundation has, since its inception, invested significantly in the education and training of medical specialists. Recipients of the Discovery Foundation Awards further their training and research at medical institutions in South Africa, and at the world-renowned Massachusetts General Hospital in the United States.

“For the last five years, the Discovery Foundation has partnered with Massachusetts General Hospital to facilitate a year-long fellowship, which this year was awarded to Dr Sean Chetty from the University of Cape Town. Dr Chetty will visit the USA to research and learn more about pain management in one of the world’s best pain laboratories – such laboratories do not yet exist in our country. Supporting this unique area of research, is part of our continuing pursuit to be a catalyst in making South Africa a centre of excellence in Academic Medicine. We believe that our country is in a unique position to solve some of the most perplexing health and clinical challenges. This support for medical research moves us towards overcoming our unique disease burden,” says Dr Maphai.

The Discovery Foundation Awards are made up of five categories. Each category addresses a specific area of medicine: development of doctors, Academic Medicine and research, further specialisation in scarce fields, rural healthcare, and human resource and capacity building programmes.

When the Discovery Foundation first introduced these awards in 2006, it set out to invest R100 million over 10 years towards training and support for 300 medical specialists and institutions. By 2019, the Foundation exceeded this vison with an investment of more than R234 million towards training and support of 433 medical specialists and institutions.

“Over the past 13 years, we have witnessed some truly ground-breaking work from recipients of Discovery Foundation Awards. Many research projects include gaining insights into and improving treatment options by looking at the unique South African setting. Some examples among the 2019 recipients include translation of a depression questionnaire into one of our official languages for more accurate diagnoses, another is the development of standards in ICU care that consider our country’s unique health profile and disease burden,” says Dr Maurice Goodman, a Discovery Foundation trustee.

Looking ahead, the Discovery Foundation aims to continue investing towards the training and support of medical specialists and institutions. By 2026, the Foundation hopes to have contributed more than R300 million towards 600 specialists and institutions.

Besides addressing skills shortages and bolstering medical knowledge, the Discovery Foundation recognises that it is a priority to provide the majority of South Africans with access to high quality healthcare. Through many social responsibility initiatives, among them the Discovery Foundation, Discovery is committed to bringing quality infrastructure and services within reach of communities that are underserved.

“Discovery’s core purpose is about helping people improve their health and quality of life. We believe we can play an important role in strengthening our healthcare sector through our investment in training and development. By bolstering much-needed resources, we can help reduce the critical resource shortages and address areas of great need in the public health sector,” concludes Dr Goodman.

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