Bursaries awarded to 146 full-time students this year will go a long way towards improving health services in Gauteng. The Gauteng Department of Health and Social Development awarded the bursaries for studies in health sciences at various tertiary institutions.
Bursaries were awarded in health disciplines where skills are critically scarce, such as Medicine, Pharmacy, Physiotherapy, Clinical Medical Practice and Medical Orthotics and Prosthetics.
The bursary programme targets candidates from economically disadvantaged backgrounds who have performed well academically. It is in line with the Gauteng provincial government's strategic priority to promote quality education and skills development.
In addition to these bursaries, 30 medical students supported by the bursary fund started with studies in Cuba in September last year. This year, 25 students will be selected to take up studies in Cuba.
The department allocates an estimated R30 million annually to fund full-time and part-time studies for students who excel academically, prioritising young people from poor backgrounds.
On completion of their studies, graduates are required to enter into a contractual agreement to serve at a Gauteng health facility for the same number of years that was paid for by the department.
"The awarding of bursaries has contributed significantly to the department as most of the bursary recipients are currently serving at Gauteng health facilities. This contributes towards our goal of addressing the shortage of health professionals. With additional funding the department could increase the amount of financial assistance offered to young people," said Aubrey Ditshego, Bursar at the Gauteng Department of Health and Social Development.
He said this initiative also provided motivation to other youth from impoverished communities to apply for bursaries.