Professor Mathildah Mokgatle, the Head of Department of Public Health at SMU, in the Faculty of Health Care Sciences, has been appointed as a new member of the National Health Research Committee of (NHRC) by Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla for the term 2023-2026. The appointment took eﬀect from 01 July 2023.
She is participating in the broad NHRC and serves in two sub- committees which are the Innovation and Research translation, and Monitoring and Evaluation.
She holds a Doctoral degree in Educational Psychology and a Master of Public Health with expertise in the areas of Biostatistics, Social and Behavioural Health Sciences, and Health Systems Management. She possesses over 32 years of professional experience in care services and 23 of those years were spent in academia. “Besides working in academia for most of my career, I always wanted to contribute and apply my public health expertise at all levels of the health care system. Having served in the Ministerial Advisory Committee for Covid-19 from March 2020 to June 2023, I was invited by the National Department of Health through a call for nominations, and I took the opportunity to join and serve in the National Health Research Committee. Since this was a nomination, I received letters of support from two senior academics who are familiar with my work and outputs from the School of Health Care Sciences (SHCS)”, Prof Mokgatle explained.
The speciﬁcation required nominees to have expertise and experience in research management, basic research, clinical research, public health and policy research, health system research, social science research or any other health-related research, and community leadership, and her career proﬁle met the requirements.
As a member of the NHRC Prof Mokgatle will be responsible for identifying research for health priorities and advice the Minister on application and implementation thereof, determine research to be carried out by public health authorities, Co-ordinate the research activities of public health authorities and ensure that health research agendas and research resources focus on key health problems.
Prof. Mokgatle indicated that being a member of the NHRC is an achievement for her and more importantly for the University as her participation will ensure she makes a contribution towards guiding the National Department of Health in identifying health research priorities concerning the burden of disease; the cost- eﬀectiveness of interventions aimed at reducing the burden of disease; the availability of human and institutional resources for the implementation of an intervention at the level closest to the aﬀected communities; the health needs of vulnerable groups such as women, older persons, children and people with disabilities; and the health needs of communities. Her role will ensure that SMU, through the Research Directorate, will have current information regarding the National Health Research Agenda, priority projects and activities in line with the national plans.
Prof Mokgatle explained that working and teaching in Public Health is a bit tricky because many important priority health research areas need attention and solutions by individual experts. “The diversity of issues and demand for responsiveness especially with disease outbreaks and epidemics needs one to strike the balance of being a specialist within a deﬁned niche area and providing service and adding to the general public health body of knowledge. It took me time and eﬀort to deliver at a broad public health spectrum and to build a speciﬁc portfolio that deﬁnes me in the area of social epidemiology, prevention and control of HIV and sexually transmitted infections”, Prof Mokgatle explained.
She believes that hard work and being open-minded is crucial for everything once people have identiﬁed the direction they want to take for their careers. “Allowing collaboration and developing networks for research puts your expertise out in the public and that attracts beneﬁcial relationships and recognition. I opened myself up for volunteering and giving back through serving in academic, provincial and national committees. My name came up as appointable from the nominations since I have been interacting with the National Department of Health through the MAC for Covid-19, the Provincial Covid-19 outbreak team, being a keynote speaker and journal reviewer in the National Health Research Congress and the 2022 Annual Health Report”, Prof Mokgatle advised.
The Academy of Pharmaceutical Society of South Africa held its 42nd annual national conference at Zimbali Resort, Durban, KwaZulu natal. The conference which was hosted by University of KwaZulu Natal, took place from the 31st of August 2023 to the 2nd of September 2023. In attendance were top researchers in Pharmaceutical Sciences from across the nine Pharmacy schools in the country. Different master’s students from across the country presented their work and competed for the Young Scientist Award. This is an award, given annually at the conference, in recognition of creativity and excellence among young scientist, as evidenced by their research work.
Mr. Emmanuel Kiyonga, who is a Master of Pharmacy student at the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences in the School of Pharmacy won the young scientist award for his research titled, “Co-crystal systems for solubility enhancement of Raloxifene HCl in Breast cancer and osteoporosis therapy.” This is a historical achievement given that this is the first time a student from the School of Pharmacy at SMU has won since the introduction of the award in 1981.
Prior to winning this award, Mr Kiyonga also won first place for postgraduate podium presentation at the SMU research day in 2023. One of the critical aspects of his study is to come up with a novel Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient that can improve the oral bioavailability and clinical effectiveness. Mr Kiyonga is currently conducting further evaluation and optimization of the co-crystal that has been developed. Mr. Kiyonga is supervised by Mr. Madan Poka and co-supervised by Dr. Bwalya Witika from SMU, Professor Yahya Choonara and Professor Pradeep Kumar from WITS. In response to his award, Mr. Kiyonga said that….
“I feel proud and at the same time humbled. Winning such a prestigious award is not something I even imagined. All thanks to the team effort from all presenters at the conference from the department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the School of pharmacy, SMU”.
“We dominated the conference with our various ground-breaking research. The calibre of research work presented from all SMU presenters indicated that the winner of the award had to be from SMU. I feel honoured to be the one who won the award on behalf of the team. This was a dream come true for me. This is the greatest lifetime achievement I have ever received, and I know it will go with me for life. I also believe it is the gate way to so many opportunities for me in the academic world”.
The Department and School takes pride in this achievement as it showcased the talent and innovative research taking place at SMU.
Newsflash - SMU student scoops a top award
Congratulations Peter Mbati for his confirmed membership of the International Association of University Presidents (IAUP). In this regard, he joins a group of peer Presidents and Vice Chancellors who together comprise the world’s preeminent organization of university leaders. The International Association of University Presidents (IAUP) is an association of university chief executives from higher education institutions around the world. Membership is limited to those individuals who serve as Presidents, Rectors or Vice-Chancellors at regionally accredited colleges or universities. The IAUP had its foundational Triennial Conference in 1965 and has continued to strive for excellence in the following areas:
- To increase the exchange of experiences, levels of collaboration and networking between university leaders.
- To provide a well-informed forum for university leaders throughout the world.
- To contribute to a worldwide vision of higher education.
- To strengthen the international mission of institutions throughout the world.
- To make every effort for the voice of educational leaders to be heard.
- To support sustainable development in a context of global competency.
- To promote peace and international understanding through education.
- IAUP is a NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) holding the highest (ECOSOC) consultation rights at the United Nations and formal consultation rights with UNESCO.
The IAUP acknowledges that we are living in unprecedented times, with challenges and opportunities worldwide. In this context, it seeks to provide a platform for higher education leaders to learn from what is working, to note what has not worked, and to effect the necessary improvements, while reinventing, innovating and extending the boundaries of what we know. It is envisaged that Prof. Mbati’s appointment to the IAUP will have a positive impact not just for SMU but also for our country and the African region in general with regard to quality, relevance and innovation.
Newsflash - Congratulations to Prof Mbati as he joins the International Association of University
Prof Nozipho Nyakale is one of the only two black female Associate Nuclear Medicine professors in the country, and the first black female to be promoted as Nuclear Medicine Head of Department in this academic standing. She has now been promoted to Associate Professor in the department of Nuclear Medicine and is the head of the department of Nuclear Medicine at the SMU/DGMAH complex.
“Our focus as a department has always been and continues to be ensuring that our department is on par with the best. We offer teaching and service that will create scholars that can survive and excel worldwide. We strive to offer a comprehensive service that gives our people access to what could otherwise be deemed exclusive diagnostic and therapeutic services; and teaching that allows our students to get exposure to almost everything that is needed for them to be with the best in the field”, said Prof Nyakale. She further stressed that they continue to progressively improve their research output and ensure that this is done in collaboration with the rest of the institution, national and international community and produce outstanding work in the area of nuclear medicine.
“This is the mandate I hope to continue with to ensure that we continue to grow together in the department. I believe I am naturally hardworking and always strive to do the best I can in spite of the resources available to me and the team”, she said. Nyakale further expressed gratitude to the great mentors who patiently guide her in multiple aspects of her career. “I avail myself to serve where I can and always hope to make a difference. The achievements are simply validation of your efforts in providing the purpose and service that you are called to”, she concluded.
Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University (SMU) is proud to announce Professor Dikeledi Mokone as the ﬁrst female, African, to become a professor of Surgery in South Africa. Prof. Mokone is a well-respected academic in the ﬁeld of breast oncology in South Africa and abroad amongst her peers. Her commitment to teaching both undergraduates and post graduates students is legendary. She is a dedicated clinician and academic. The University’s Dean of the School of Medicine Professor Nathaniel Mofolo has described this as a historic moment, given that, worldwide, surgery is a male dominated area of specialization. “In the South African context, the problem has been, particularly, severe due to apartheid and its legacy”, said Mofolo.
Prof Mokone completed her undergraduate studies and went to specialize as a general surgeon at SMU, where she further trained as a sub-specialist breast surgeon. She is currently Head of the breast Unit at the Dr. George Mukhari Academic Hospital (DGMAH).
Her research interests are in the area of breast pathology, particularly, as it affects the indigent population of South Africa. She has published widely in the field of breast surgery. Her current responsibilities include teaching of both undergraduate and post graduate students and patient care. She is also supervising several Master’s students.
The University has congratulated Professor Mokone for this momentous achievement.
Prof Mokone is a strong leader and SMU is proud of her achievements.
The School of Oral Health Sciences at SMU celebrated the Class of 2022 who finally completed their training in the field of Dentistry, Oral Hygiene and Dental therapy on 29 June 2023. In addition, there was the unveiling of a plaque also known as the “Wall of Fame” where the names of the top achievers in the module Ethical Practice Management will be engraved.
The class of 2022 took an Oath in their respective professions pledging among other pledges to strive at all times to make a difference in the lives of the communities they will be serving.
This Oath taking ceremony was a testament to the fact that SMU continues to produce globally competitive and competent graduates in line with the institutional mission to maintain excellence in teaching, learning, innovative research, and community engagement. Twenty-nine students in total took their oath on the day, which included students who completed qualifications in Bachelor of Oral Hygiene (3), Bachelor of Dental Therapy (5), and Bachelor of Dental Surgery (21).
The top achievers in the BDS final year received awards during the ceremony. Dr Mpakeng Lebepe was awarded the best overall final year student in BDS in the module ethical practice management while Dr Lesley Molepo was awarded the best student in Community Dentistry, and the best final year student in Operative Dentistry. Dr Molepo received awards for being the top achiever in Endodontics by doing the highest number of most complex cases in endodontics reflected through clinical evaluation, showing understanding and practical implications of modern and contemporary clinical management nominated. She was nominated by her supervisors for these awards. Dr Shaazmeen Hoosen was awarded a prize for being the best 4th-year student in Dental Radiology – clinical. Dr Yumna Karodia was awarded for best all-around student – leadership, clinical, and academic in her final year. Dr Princess Mushiane was awarded for the student who showed an understanding of infection control practice and treated her patients with the utmost care, courtesy, and professionalism.
Dr Magda Verwoerd was awarded a prize for the student who demonstrated professional clinical attendance, best portfolio score, and underlying principles as reﬂected through clinical session evaluations during the ﬁnal year. “Our Journey does not end here. This ceremony marks the beginning of a new phase in our journey of life. As we step into the world as dental professionals, let us remember the core values that brought us to this point – integrity, empathy, and excellence” proclaimed the Class Representatives.
The current Acting Dean in Oral Health Sciences, Prof Dini Mawela expressed her joy that the School had achieved this milestone as she wished the students well on their new paths in life. She also encouraged the graduates to join the SMU alumni and the Convocation.
Newsflash - Oral Health Sciences Oath Taking Ceremony