Towards a person-centered, equitable and trusted public health system in the WC | Western Cape Government

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Towards a person-centered, equitable and trusted public health system in the WC

29 November 2021

In another landmark for the province, the Western Cape Health Department has signed a bilateral agreement with each of the four Higher Education Institutions based in the Western Cape – the University of Cape Town (UCT), Stellenbosch University (SU), University of Western Cape (UWC) and the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT). On Monday 29th November the Department and the four Higher Education Institutions, formally tabled the individually signed agreements at their Joint Agreement Governance Council.

The Western Cape Department of Health and the 4 Higher Education Institutions are collectively committed to optimal health outcomes of the population through the delivery of quality health care by competent and caring health professionals, informed by relevant health-related research. This became very evident in the way the Western Cape Department of Health and the 4 Higher Education Institutions have responded and continue to respond to the COVID pandemic.


Premier Alan Winde says: “What underpins the accomplishment that we have highlighted today is the need to work together and the importance of taking a whole of society approach. These agreements will serve to strengthen what is already a very impressive, agile, innovative, and well-run public healthcare system in the Western Cape. In the Western Cape, and indeed South Africa, we have a large pool of medical experts within our higher education sector who are recognised for their expertise globally. We are so fortunate to be able to draw on them, particularly during times of crisis. I want to commend the Provincial Department of Health and the respective Universities on this momentous step that will take our healthcare system from strength to strength.”


“Partnerships are fundamental in assisting us to achieve our set targets. The current COVID-19 pandemic has shown us the importance of collaborations. We each have a role to play. I am grateful to the four institutions for their commitment in ensuring that the Western Cape population will get the best medical expertise,” says Minister of Health in the Western Cape, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo.


“We are indeed stronger together,” said Prof Wim de Villiers, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of Stellenbosch University. “Tough times calls for mustering all resources in not only fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, but to strive towards optimal health and wellness for all. Collaboration would be key in this regard.”


The Western Cape Department of Health and the 4 Higher Education Institutions signed a historic collective multilateral agreement on 29th May 2012. The Department has signed bilateral agreements with each of the four Higher Education Institutions individually over the past 18 months, after key principles were agreed to guide equitable student access on the health service platform, fair allocation of human resources, fair allocation of funding, clear organizational and governance arrangements.


Dr Keith Cloete, Head of Department says: “The Western Cape Department of Health and the four Higher Education Institutions recognize the mutually beneficial inter-dependencies of a relationship established to render a health service, to educate and train health professionals and to undertake health-related research and commit themselves to the continuation and strengthening of this relationship.


Prof Anthea Rhoda, Dean of the Faculty of Community and Health Sciences, University of the Western Cape, said: "The Western Cape Department of Health and the have a long-standing relationship through specific programmes with the Faculty of Community and Health Sciences (FCHS), Faculty of Dentistry and the School of Pharmacy. Amongst others, the FCHS graduates many nursing students who go on to make a valuable contribution to the healthcare workforce in the Province. The recently signed bilateral agreement with the Department further cements the relationship between the Department and UWC as together we address the health needs of communities in the Western Cape and UWC's vaccination centre and vaccinations drives, assisted combating the pandemic in the province."


UCT Vice-Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng said: “We are pleased to be part of this agreement, which governs the relationship in relation to the shared mandate of education, research and service. The clinical platform, which is managed by the Western Cape Government, is an environment in which patient care is central. This agreement is very much about consolidating the relationship with the province, which has been phenomenal over the past few months as we have worked together to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.”


The Western Cape Department of Health and the 4 Higher Education Institutions are committed to 12 foundational principles which underpins the collaborative working relationship between the parties:

  1. Building trust through openness and transparency
  2. Commitment to fairness, in the light of historical inequity
  3. Adopting an enabling approach
  4. Commitment to the spirit of partnership
  5. Commitment to building a positive organisational culture
  6. Commitment to collective change management
  7. Realistic expectations of each other, in the light of resource constraints
  8. Commitment to address power imbalance and control
  9. Acknowledgement of the “medical model bias" in the multilateral agreement
  10. Commitment to the spirit of the multilateral agreement
  11. Sharing technical expertise across parties
  12. Commitment to fundamental transformation and equity


Prof Chris Nhlapo Vice-Chancellor Cape Peninsula University says: “The agreement between CPUT, the other Cape Higher Education institutions, and the Western Cape Department of Health is a win-win for all parties. Not only do we increase learning opportunities for our students, but we are formalizing a cooperative agreement that has already been in place for many years. Working together as a collective assists our students in building future career networks and helps us to respond to varying demands as they arise. We saw this cooperation in full effect during the COVID pandemic and we are proud of our staff and students within Health Sciences for the role they played during that trying time. Most importantly, this agreement will benefit the people of the Western Cape who rely on the public health system, with it in place they can continue to receive quality health care.” 


Media Enquiries: 


Nomawethu Sbukwana

Spokesperson to Minister Nomafrench Mbombo

Ministry of Health

Cell: (+27) 083 893 5200