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An Innovative Community-Based Programme for Preparing Nurses

Resource type: Grantee Story

The health system of South Africa can only be as good as the people who work in it,“ says Professor Thembisile Khanyile, Director of University of the Western Cape School of Nursing. “The strategy is to increase the number of nurses to provide primary care for poor patients who rely on the struggling public health system.”

In a country with a high disease burden and inequities rooted in the legacy of apartheid, nurses form the backbone of the public health system. But too many of them are leaving the country. “Between 1994 and 2006, more than 24,000 nurses emigrated from South Africa. The vast majority worked in the public sector,” explains Professor Khanyile.

With a five-year grant, the university developed an innovative programme for preparing nurses committed to working in South Africa’s public health system. Training emphasises the values and skills required to deliver quality care at the district primary-care level, using a community-based, problem-solving approach that incorporates local clinical case studies and disease profiles.

Most importantly, the School of Nursing recruits students from poor communities, and the majority of them return to work in these communities. Since 2004, this popular school has tripled student enrolment from 400 to 1,200.

Related Resources


Health, Nursing

Global Impact:

South Africa


School of Nursing, University of the Western Cape