Health education gets funding


TWO key health projects at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) aimed at ensuring a longer, healthier life for all South Africans received a recent joint financial boost of R2.7m.   

A research project by the Center for Community Technologies (CCT) at NMMU creating electronic learner records using mobile technology and a biometric device driven by solar energy received a significant boost with funding from the Medical Research Council (MRC).

The CCT-MRC collaboration grant of R2.6 million over three years is a health technology product development partnership, supported by the Department of Science and Technology (DST), that will:


  • Change the way health research, development and innovation is managed, funded and conducted in South Africa
  • Manage the existing DST strategic health innovation initiatives in HIV, TB, malaria, non-communicable diseases and imminently-maternal and child health.
  • Influence local and international funding by acting as a central channel for foreign institutions seeking to partner with South African Research agencies.

The other partners involved in this school health screening project are the national departments of health and basic education and the provincial departments of health and education.

In addition, a grant of R125 000 from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) was received and is aimed at using information technology to build capacity on non-transmittable diseases among community health care workers (CHWs) in low-income communities in South Africa. Combining expertise in Information Communication Technologies (ICT); health education and communication; public health research experience and knowledge on non-transmittable diseases, can result in an effective eHealth approach.

“Technology transforms relatively faster than health sciences; therefore, this project will provide a platform to use technology in conjunction with health sciences.

“The study intends to demonstrate effectiveness in educational interventions for potential implementation throughout the different provinces of South Africa,” says CCT Director Prof Darelle van Greunen.

The technology platform intended for this research project will enable the exchange of the all the preparation modules as sound podcasts to community health care workers (CHWs) and training can be supervised in clinics.

In this way, Prof van Greunen explains, improvement in self-care and lifestyle changes can have a significant impact on the control of non-communicable diseases, complications and quality of life. 

She says that one of the major challenges facing most developing countries such as South Africa today is how to take full and smart advantage of far-reaching advances in science and technology that particularly addresses the needs of poor and marginalised sections of society.

‘’While access to technology in the pre-digital era has always been a major barrier to economic and social development in developing countries, this is no longer an absolute barrier for at least three reasons: firstly, the spread of distributive and open technologies, and limits to the power of privately owned frameworks; secondly, the increasingly lower delivery cost of new technologies; and thirdly, the rise of several sources of technology innovation and development in civil society.

“’The overall goal of these exciting projects is to provide solutions to ensure a long and healthy life for all South Africans,”’ she says.


Caption: CCT Director Prof Darelle van Greunen. Image supplied.