WSU's Health Sciences Dean walks the talk


Three PhD’s were conferred upon academics within Walter Sisulu University’s health sciences faculty on Tuesday 21 September at Mthatha Campus, bringing to eight the total number of PhD’s obtained by the faculty this year.

The trio of accolades closely follows the five PhD’s awarded to the faculty during the May graduation ceremony at the very same campus.

An overwhelming majority were 412 females will be capped at the NMD Great Hall, with only 314 males receiving this honour, and 31 of this total graduating Cum Laude.

Swaggering across the stage to obtain his very own PhD on graduation day was no lesser personage than the health sciences faculty dean himself Dr Wezile Chitha.

“It’s important to lead by example by walking the talk and leading from the front. One of the best ways of influencing and changing behaviour is to inspire people – it’s to let people emulate than to preach. I hope that my departmental heads will follow suit in obtaining their PhD’s,” said Chitha.

A qualified medical doctor and health economist, his research aligns itself with the incumbent rollout of the country’s ambitious National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme.

The research interrogates how the health systems can be strengthened, improvement of its quality, and instilling of appropriate health policies - findings relevant to the current preparations for implementing the NHI.

“The challenge at the moment is that our health system is not clinician led, hence the poor health outcomes and increasing litigations. We focus on being politically correct rather than dealing with core business of health,” said Chitha.

Although he won’t concede to this microcosmic achievement putting pressure on him to emulate it at faculty level, he does acknowledge its signalling of a reprioritisation of effort in committing to increased participation in research within the faculty.

Work on this front, though still in its initial stages, has already started unfolding.

“We will be launching our campaign soon - "One Academic. One Idea. One Grant,” to rally our staff, students and partners in pursuit of increased participation in research so we can produce new knowledge and mould a new brand of future leaders occupied with producing evidence, scientific and knowledge-based solutions,” said Chitha.

A total of nine PhD’s will be awarded during the ceremony, with six of these set to be awarded to academics in the educational sciences faculty.