By Naledi Mashishi

The Wits Faculty of Health Sciences will be observing its 100th birthday through a range of activities and events in 2019. The Faculty which is based at the Wits Medical Campus in Parktown will showcase its achievements and strengths while identifying areas for growth during its centenary celebrations.

Assistant Dean in the Faculty of Health Sciences Dr Wezile Chita says that each of the Faculty’s seven schools will celebrate their individual achievements through a series of events.
The planned programme also includes a visit to Australia by a team of Health Sciences staff, led by Dean Martin Veller, to engage with alumni there.

“We want to draw our graduates from Australia and New Zealand to keep them up to date with the faculty’s progresses and engage with them on their experiences,” Chita told Wits Vuvuzela.

Included in the faculty’s centenary celebration plans is a booklet documenting the history of the faculty and its contributions to medicine and science in the country and abroad.

The Adler Museum, located on Medical Campus, will also host a dedicated centenary exhibition starting before the end of June.

Chita says that the faculty has grown over the years to become the biggest medical faculty on the continent.

“Wits is diverse, innovative, globally competitive, and locally responsive,” Chita says. “We are embedded in the development of the public health system and our students have influenced policy on [antiretroviral drugs], the sugar tax, and research on malaria and infectious diseases.”

The faculty’s plans include strengthening partnerships, reaching out to the private sector to increase student and staff involvement, and expanding and developing its rural clinical school in Mpumalanga in partnership with the Mpumalanga Department of Health.

“We are following the university’s framework in forming institutional partnerships in the United States, United Kingdom, Europe, and Africa. We want to develop further to join the top 100 medical universities in the world,” Chita says.

Precious Magane, a BHs Chemical Pathology honours student, says that although her time at Wits has been academically difficult, she believes that the Faculty of Health Sciences is among the best in the country.
“They have the best researchers and the best facilities. The academic standards here are very high,” she says.

It is estimated that 24 000 – 26 000 students have graduated from the faculty over the past 100 years. Notable alumni include: Nobel Prize Laureates, Sydney Brenner and Aaron Klug, and surgeon, entrepreneur, and philanthropist, Patrick Soon-Shiong.

FEATURED IMAGE: The Wits Faculty of Health Sciences will be celebrating its 100th birthday.
Photo: Naledi Mashishi