Crime on the increase outside Health Sciences Campus

THE WITS Health Sciences community has been hit by increased levels of crime just outside the Parktown campus since the end of last year, according to security guards.

David Mlambo, an external perimeter security guard from Protection Services, said that pedestrians with cellphones were being targeted as they walked along York Road, but recently, there had also been incidents of motor vehicle theft and robberies.

There is at least one incident of theft, or attempted theft, every week, according to Mlambo. He said, they had foiled an attempted theft of a Toyota Etios one day at the end of February but a Toyota Yaris had been stolen the very next day.

“You know, criminals are clever. I have noticed that these criminals move around checking or monitoring us, the security. It is very bad. We are all not safe,” he said.

Mlambo’s sentiments were echoed by Peter Selowa, an independent car guard, who said incidents of crime in the area had increased since the Hillbrow Police Station had cut the frequency of patrol cars.

“The police also need to play a big role. They must be visible. I think it might help,” said Mlambo.

Third-year medical student Revaan Singh was attending Awareness Day at the Medical School on March 6, when his Toyota Yaris was stolen from a parking bay on York Road.

“I walked out to go home. I was in disbelief as I approached the space where I had parked not to find my car there. At that point I knew that it had been stolen,” said the 25-year-old.

Toni Batty, a fourth-year BNurs student, said that she wished someone had warned her about the severity of crime in the area.

“Parking my car outside gives me anxiety, not only for the risk of car theft or smash-and-grabs, but also for my own safety, walking to and from my car before and after class,” Batty added.
Director of Family Medicine Dr Richard Cooke said that he was mugged in the area last year and that had made him more cautious.

“I am very vigilant now. I’m always a bit nervous walking up that hill. My main concern is not for individuals like myself, to be frank. I am concerned for smaller and, more predominantly, female students.”
Wits security staff have advised that people should avoid using cellphones in the street, that they walk in groups, and avoid leaving valuables in plain sight in parked cars.

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Gauteng health department fails to pay medical interns

Bureaucratic bungle leaves new doctors fearing the worst about working in public hospitals.

Newly graduated doctors who just started their internships at Gauteng government hospitals have not been paid their January salaries as a result of a technical glitch, according to the health department.

Medical interns at hospitals in Gauteng could only expect to be paid in February, the Gauteng Department of Health announced this week.

In a statement released on Thursday, January 31, the Head of the Department Mkhululi Lukhele said, “There was a delay in the creation of the post due to the additional interns and community service that Gauteng Department of Health requested to accommodate.

“Despite the shortcomings as stated above, the Head of Department has arranged for additional supplementary payment runs to accommodate appointments that would be delayed.”

Medical interns took to social media this past week to share their grievances and to plead for assistance.

Wits graduate Rhadika Patel, who began her medical internship this year at Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital, said that the lack of communication surrounding the issue was frustrating.

“HR hasn’t told us anything. We had no idea until earlier this week that we were not going to get paid. They say the issue is that we haven’t been logged onto the system, but it has been a month now,” she said.

Patel and other interns have contacted the South African Medical Association (SAMA) and say that they have received feedback.

In a communique shared with the nearly 50 interns at Charlotte Maxeke, SAMA expressed concern and informed the interns that after speaking to the Director-General of Health they would be paid by Friday, February 1.

“SAMA further made contact with Provincial Heads of Department to ascertain as to whether payment will indeed be effected and received an affirmation in that regard that payment will be made timeously,” the statement read.

Patel told Wits Vuvuzela that it has been difficult for these interns to begin their lives after varsity because of this delay.

“Especially for those who have had to move towns. Making the jump from student to intern is very difficult, there are so many new expenses. As well, January is a very tough month because you just come out of the festive period. So it is really frustrating because a lot of people have to pay for rent and transport expenses,” Patel added.

FEATURED IMAGE: Medical graduates have had a financially challenging start to their internships. Photo: Tshego Mokgabudi

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Medics demand transformation

Wits medical students protest over transformation

Wits medical students protest over transformation on Wednesday                Photo: Ayanda Mgede

Wits medical students staged a protest on Wednesday afternoon, calling the Faculty of Health Sciences out on illegal student exclusions and delayed processes of transformation.

The students complained about the slow rate of transformation at Medical School and some students falling victim to what they say are illegal exclusions.

“Management failed to give students a criteria to even begin with so how are they now telling them that they failed to meet a criteria?” said Nkosinathi Maluleke who led the protest and currently sits in the Student Transformation Committee.

The students raised concerns about the processes of dealing with students who had not been attending compulsory activities in their field, which is part of their course.  The compulsory activities include field experience, such as working in a hospital, to gain real world experience.

The protesting students say that the faculty forced them to deregister for the course this year and come back next year because of failure to meet their due performance scores.

This was, however, overturned this morning when the faculty announced that its decision would be withdrawn. Martin Veller, the dean of health sciences, told Wits Vuvuzela that “The reason why we withdrew that was because the process was not according to the rules of the university and we will address that as it was not correct.”

But Veller said he was concerned about students not wanting to take responsibility for what they came to Medical School to do, he said that it did not look good to have medical professionals who were not seen in their skills environments. “We can’t guarantee if you really acquired those skills and that was our contention,” said Veller

Veller added that they were committed to a broad transformation project but that it is always limited by resources that are available to the faculty. “We’re in the process of addressing transformation and many other issues they raised but no transformation is ever fast enough,” he said.

The students read out a memorandum with their tabled demands and gave management seven days to respond in writing. Veller that the protest showed a level of impatience that he admires from the students but said a lot of the demands were already being addressed by the faculty

Wits Student Representative Council (SRC) Vice-President Motheo Brodie said that the SRC was aware of the demands by students and that they have been engaging with the Student Transformation Committee in the Medical School Council.

“I hope that management will respond because if they don’t, this might not have a pretty ending,” he said.

No news is not good news

FLYING OFF THE SHELF: A Vuvuzela stand at Medical School stands empty.

FLYING OFF THE SHELF: A Vuvuzela stand at Medical School stands empty.

The Journalism Department at Wits has received complaints that there are not enough newspapers being delivered to the Medical and Education campuses.

Do Wits students actually read the Wits Vuvuzela? Does the University distribute too many copies of the newspaper on campus? Or are there too few?

“If you find something interesting, then you would want to read it.”

Sometimes you can find what you are looking for and sometimes you cannot. On parts of campus such as the Medical School and Education Campus, distributers of the newspaper have received complaints that there are not enough papers delivered there.

The amount of Wits Vuvuzela newspapers in news-stands at Wits has varied at distribution points on campus.

On East Campus, where the Vuvuzela is produced, many news-stands have a large amount of left-over newspapers by the time the newspapers have to be replaced.

On the other hand, Students and staff at the Wits Medical School have complained that there are not enough papers distributed there. “There are 12 of us on security here at the Medical School” said campus control security guard Thanduxo Nozibele, “we love reading the newspaper because it is free and we love the stories, but when we look for the latest issue, we can’t find even one”.

Zain Patel, a 4th year medical student, said “If you find something interesting, then you would want to read it. There should be 3 newsstands placed around our campus so that every Friday those who can’t find a paper at the one entrance can find one somewhere else”.

Opinions vary on the causes for both the leftovers and the backlog. Some students claim that they are far too busy to take a newspaper. “I don’t read the Vuvuzela” said 4th year medical student Dimo Sithole, “I don’t usually get involved in campus activity, I’m just here to study and I go straight home after lectures, I’m way too busy with work”.

Micaela Gradidge, a 3rd year BHSC student, suggested that she does not read the paper as “everything in the Vuvuzela is on main campus” and that she “only read the paper when there was a story about medical school”.

There are approximately 5000 students based at the medical school, yet there are only 300 newspapers scheduled to be delivered there.

Several students at  the Wits Medical School who spoke to the Wits Vuvuzela, claim that they enjoy reading the Vuvuzela and get upset when the newsstand is empty. Lerato Segodi, a 4th year medical student said “I love reading Vuvuzela when I see an interesting article, when I can’t find one then I usually get one from a friend on West Campus, and when I can’t find a copy that upsets me.”

The Vuvuzela distributers have aimed to correct this by scheduling more papers to be delivered to higher flow areas, such as the medical school and education campus, and less to areas where there is a low demand. The Vuvuzela has a current distribution of 10000 newspapers.

The Vuvuzela is distributed by the students of the Wits Journalism Programme every Friday at 12 o’clock.

 

Wits students tackle social inequality in healthcare through new society

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Health sciences students launched a new society dedicated to creating awareness about inequalities in healthcare. Photo: Provided.

Wits health science students launched the Student Advocates for Health society (StAH) at the Parktown campus last night. The society reflects the awareness of these students of the  socio-economic factors affecting the quality of healthcare in South Africa.

The idea for the organisation came about when a group of students doing shifts at a local hospital were outraged by a poster indicating that some patients were denied HIV treatment.

“We saw the social inequality and did not know how to do anything about it.  We [health science students] don’t know what’s happening in the world, we don’t know what politics mean.  This organisation is to inform students about the realities of what is happening in hospitals,” said one of the founders, Ndumiso Mathebula, 4th year MBBCh.

The society plans to facilitate opportunities for students to work with organisations like Section27, Doctors Without Borders, the Wits Citizenship Community Outreach, the Wits Transformation Office and the Treatment Action Campaign . Students will learn different skills of advocacy, said Mathebula.

Empowered students

Neo Mkhaba, 4th year MBBCh and StAH media officer, said as advocates, health science students would be empowered to “identify problems and come up with solutions that are comprehensive and sustainable.”

“We need more people to step into the darkness, because someone has to turn on the light.”

Joseph Tewson, anatomy honours, said: “I get very excited when things happen on campus.  We are a very laid-back generation.  We need more of this on campus.  We need more people to step into the darkness, because someone has to turn on the light.”

Lesnè Pucjlowski, 3rd year MBBCh was keen on standing up for her patients, “I’m really just interested in standing up for my patients’ human rights.  Our patients are important and their needs are important and I am happy that StAH will give me the opportunity to be proactive.”

Cybil Mulundi, 4th year MBBCh, wants to implement what she learns at StAH in her future career: “I am here to learn how doctors can make patients more aware of their human rights and make sure they are not taken advantage of.”

Monique Losper, 4th year MBBCh, added: “I would like to find out how to create a better relationship between doctors and patients in our careers going forward. I am expecting StAH to help enhance awareness of rights and responsibilities so that patients can receive good healthcare.”

The organisers used the event to commemorate the youth of 1976, who died for what they believed in, said Mkhaba.  The same spirit of activism should be carried by this generation, but it should not be destructive, emphasised Mathebula.  In the past, people had to destroy to get their freedom, he told Wits Vuvuzela.

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WITH INFOGRAPHIC: Health science students in HIV exposure frustrated by ARV treatment protocols

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FOLLOWING PROTOCOL IS IMPORTANT: A Wits student gets her blood tested for HIV at a testing campaign on Wits Education Campus earlier this year. Photo: Tracey Ruff

From lost blood test results to a lack of guidance about antiretroviral treatment (ARVs), the protocol after exposure to a potential HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) threat is both frustrating and time-consuming for some students.

Students at the Wits Faculty of Health Sciences are required to follow a strict protocol when accessing ARVs after an exposure to the virus in the course of their practical work.

“[Students] have to come to Campus Health for reporting purposes,”  explained Sister Yvonne Matimba of Campus Health. While students can access an ARV starter pack immediately after an exposure from the hospital in which they are working, further treatment can only be accessed through Campus Health located in the Matrix building on main campus.

The alternative is to pay for the treatment through a private health care provider.

“She didn’t really know what the protocol was and just gave me the pills and told me I had to make the decision”

However, as Krystle Moodley, a Wits dentistry graduate currently completing her community service year in Mpumulanga, said, “It sucks [going to Campus Health] if you’re at med school because you have to go all the way to [main] campus. How does that make sense?”

Moodley has been on ARVs twice. Her first time was in fourth year after she pricked herself with a needle.

Once she had reported the incident to Campus Health, her bloods were taken immediately and she was put on a 28-day ARV treatment regime. She then had to go back for a six-week, and three-month, blood test.

Missing results

After not receiving her results from her three-month blood test, Moodley phoned Campus Health and was informed her results had been lost. She then decided to go to a private doctor and had to pay about R150 to get her bloods done.

“No one [at Campus Health] bothered to tell me or bring me in to retake [my bloods].”

Counselling is also provided by Campus Health to the affected students.  However, according to Moodley, she feels that what she was told was information she had studied and already knew about.

CLICK TO ENLARGE: The Wits ARV treatment protocol. Graphic Tracy Ruff.

CLICK TO ENLARGE: What does ARV treatment involve? Graphic: Tracy Ruff.

A sixth-year medical student who did not want to be named, who has been on ARVs twice, has also expressed difficulties with the Campus Health process. “In terms of waiting times, [Campus Health] was good, but the sister (who was a new employee at the time) couldn’t give me advice on whether or not to take the ARVs, she said.

She didn’t really know what the protocol was and just gave me the pills and told me I had to make the decision.”

However, according to Matimba, all staff at Campus Health are adequately trained to deal with the protocol.

A Wits postgraduate student, who also did not want to be identified, said dealing with Campus Health after she received a needle-stick injury was “a  pleasure.”

“The nurses are friendly and extremely professional. They help you every step of the way.”

In need of more guidance

Students who fail to follow the protocol strictly are exempt from making any insurance claims according to the Faculty of Health Sciences’ Student Protection and Insurance booklet.

The booklet directs students to contact any of a number of doctors and staff members if an exposure occurs. There are also two additional emergency numbers provided. Wits Vuvuzela tried to reach an adviser via one of the numbers provided but was told that the staff member in question had left a few years ago.

The sixth-year medical student feels that students need to be given a card with the relevant protocol information that they can carry with them at all times. She also believes students should be informed about the ARV protocol properly at the beginning of their studies.

“They (lectures and doctors) should sit you down and tell you what to do.”

Protocol in the working world also frustrating

A Wits occupational therapy graduate, who asked not to be named, has recently completed her ARV treatment for HIV exposure outside of Wits.

“I had problems with the workman compensation procedures … so I went about paying for everything and thought I could claim back but turned out I couldn’t,” explained the graduate.

Moodley, who is now working for a public hospital, has just completed her 28-day ARV treatment. Describing her experience with the ARV protocol in the hospital she said, “it was kind of haphazard and no one knew what to do.”

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Medical students face threat of HIV

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DIFFICULT TEST: A Wits student gets tested on Wits Education Campus for HIV. Photo: Tracey Ruff

Dedicating their lives to the health and well-being of their patients comes at a great personal and health risk for students in the Faculty of Health Sciences.

With the prevalence of HIV in South Africa, exposure to HIV-positive patients is an everyday occurrence for students in the medical field.

Wits Vuvuzela recently spoke to a number of health sciences students who have had to go on antiretroviral medication (ARVs) after accidents – such as needle stick injuries – have occurred.

Suffering from side-effects

Krystle Moodley, a Wits dentistry graduate who is currently doing her community service year, has been on ARVs twice. Her first time was in fourth year when she got a needle stick injury.

“I was unscrewing the needle from the syringe and the cap fell off and I got pricked,” explained Moodley. She is currently on ARVs for a recent scare she had while cleaning a dry socket – a condition that develops after a patient’s tooth has been extracted.

The side-effects she is presently experiencing from the ARVs include nausea and vomiting. Moodley adds she has heard of people who stop taking the ARVs because of the side-effects, which can include fatigue, migraines, loss of appetite and diarrhoea.

“I [would] rather suffer a month than my whole life personally (sic),” says Moodley.

A sixth year MBBCh student, who has chosen to remain anonymous, went on ARVs in 2012. Describing her experience, the student said it was “terrible” and “horrible”.

[pullquote]“You think it’s just taking your ARVs, but it’s an emotional thing … It’s just really a heart-wrenching experience.”[/pullquote]

“You think it’s just taking your ARVs, but it’s an emotional thing … It’s just really a heart-wrenching experience. You feel like you’ll be stigmatised. It was literally the worst three weeks [taking ARVs] of my life”.

Stacey Fourie, 6th year MBBCh, has, like Moodley, been on ARVs twice. Both incidents occurred in the early hours of the morning while she was stitching trauma patients.

Fourie describes the second incident where she was stitching a man who had been stabbed all over with a broken bottle. She stitched him for three hours without a break and due to sheer exhaustion; she tried to re-cap a needle and pricked herself. The man was HIV positive.

While on the ARVs, Fourie experienced severe fatigue and struggled to study because of this.

Fourie said anybody would be “very hard-pressed to find an intern (a doctor-in-training) who hasn’t been on ARVs at some stage”.

Muhammed Makda, another sixth-year MBBCh student, describes his 28-day ARV experience as both depressing and emotional. Makda was accidentally pricked by a doctor performing a lumbar puncture on an HIV-positive patient.

Makda was on one of the “older ARV regiments” and, as a result, he suffered from severe fatigue and lethargy for the entire 28 days. He said his body felt quite weak and he experienced severe nausea which was worse in the mornings when he would occasionally experience vomiting.

He says that although “the risk of contracting HIV through this kind of exposure (needle-stick injuries etc.) is [statistically] minimal, one cannot truly rest at ease knowing that it is still possible and may just happen to you”.

A constant threat

Another sixth-year medical student, who hasn’t been on ARVs, said that as a medical doctor living in South Africa, there is a “very real danger that one morning you might wake up HIV free (sic), go to hospital and come back HIV positive”. He says he finds this “really scary” and with being tired, overworked and hungry, the ability to concentrate and work cautiously becomes difficult.

Makda said students who have had an HIV scare need to make the decision to go on ARVs “fast”, as the sooner one takes them, the less the chance of infection.

When asked if the threat of HIV has made them think twice about their choice of their profession, the students interviewed all echoed the same sentiments. They love what they do and as Moodley said, “I love seeing the smile on my patients’ faces, and that is reward enough”.

The wheels on the bus (don’t) go round…

esselen

Education and medical students were not told about the bus schedule changes and have missed lectures as a result. Photo: Tracey Ruff

It has been a confusing and frustrating start to the week for the many Witsies who use the campus bus services.

Changes have been made to the bus timetable due to the midterm study break, but Wits Education Campus (WEC) and medical school students still have normal classes.

According to Wits Services, there are supposedly four circuit buses running every 15 minute intervals and two buses running every 30 minute intervals. However, direct bus services between Esselen and WEC have been canceled despite education students still being in lectures.

Florence Moloi, 2nd year BEd, said the “services have been really bad”. She said that on Monday there were no buses, especially in the morning and in the afternoon at 4pm.

Moloi said that many students were late for class on Monday morning and “people were pushing each other to get on the [circuit] buses to go home” at the end of the day.

Moloi, who stays on Main campus, feels that there is no consideration for education students.

Makaziwe Tshona, 2nd year BEd, said that although the situation was “a bit better today,” there have been no direct buses to WEC and she “has to wait for circuit buses which are full”.

[pullquote]“A lot of people are sick and tired of this. I’ve been waiting 35 minutes for a bus.”[/pullquote]

On Monday, Tshona had a geography lecture at the Planetarium that she was late for due to the lack of  bus services.

According to a first-year student, who asked to remain anonymous, “A lot of people are sick and tired of this. I’ve been waiting 35 minutes for a bus.” She said she wants to complain but “doesn’t know who to complain to”.

According to a tweet from the account of @moreki_m, “the situation at Amic Deck [on Main campus] and Esselen is so bad. Some students are even walking to Education campus”.

“Funny thing is, we are the ones who use the bus more than any other students since our campus is in Parktown,” tweeted Moreki.

When asked if he knew there were going to be changes to the timetable, Moreki replied, “we knew about the main campus break but weren’t formally notified that it was gonna affect the bus timetable”.

The latest tweet from Wits services on the bus situation, posted at 9:15pm on Monday, read: “We do apologise – there will be a direct @WitsSln [Esselen] and WEC bus  tomorrow [Tuesday].”

However, students have continued to complain on Twitter that no direct bus service has resumed as of Tuesday afternoon.