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Prof Patrick Lekgwara – The President-Elect for the Society of Neurosurgeons of South Africa

Prof Patrick Lekgwara – The President-Elect for the Society of Neurosurgeons of South Africa

Head of the Neurosurgery Department at SMU, Professor Patrick Lekgwara, was recently appointed to serve as the President-Elect for the Society of Neurosurgeons of South Africa (SNSA). Prof Lekgwara will act in this position of President-Elect for two years, then serve as President and Chairperson of the Society for another two years and then succeed as Past President for a further two years. The constitutional obligation allows him to automatically serve for six consecutive years. This line of succession is intended to promote long-term stability and continuity in the SNSA’s leadership.

The SNSA was established to promote the practice of neurosurgery and interests allied to define the relationships relating to its mission which fosters optimal care for patients with neurosurgical disorders, through life, education, research, advocacy, and ethical practice. His vision as the President-Elect aligns with the objectives of SNSA.

His primary duties as President-Elect include to assist the President upon delegation by the latter and to prepare for ascendance to the Presidency. Upon delegation by the President, he shall be fully authorized to act as directed. He may serve as a liaison to other professional or learned societies on direction by the President. He shall also serve on the Executive Committee of SNSA.

“In the absence of the President or in the event of his inability to act, I shall perform the duties. While acting as President, I will have all the powers and be subject to all the restrictions. I will serve a term of two years and automatically accede to the Presidency of this Society at the last business session of the general meeting. If I assume the duties of a disabled President, he shall then accede and complete his term as President,” explains Prof Lekgwara.

He further explained that the objectives of the SNSA is to improve the quality of scientific knowledge and pursue lofty standards of excellence in patient care, clinical practice, and related sciences among professionals in the field of neurosurgery. He said they maintain an educational organization dedicated to the exchange of ideas and dissemination of scientific facts in the field of neurosurgery. They provide instruction, scientific meetings, and professional publications for surgical, non-operative and diagnostic purposes in neurosurgery.

SNSA also seeks to improve communication and provide support for Neurosurgeons and clinicians and to help improve their work; investigate and promulgate concepts and methods by which neurosurgical conditions may be detected and treated; maintain the highest ethical standards for the organization and full communication and interaction with other recognized bodies and speciality associations; strive for acceptable and equitable practise conditions and remuneration for those practising in neurosurgery, amongst others,” indicated Lekgwara, who is also the Chairperson of Post- graduate Examination Committee of the School of Medicine at SMU.

He served SNSA for the past twenty years in the following positions:

  • President-Elect, from 2023 to date.
  • Secretary, from 2018 to 2023.
  • Treasurer, from 2012 to 2018.
  • Member of the World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies (WFNS) Congress Organizing Committee 2023.
  • Member of the 21st Biennial Congress Organizing Committee 2009-2010.
  • Secretary of 18th Biennial Congress Organizing Committee 2003-2004.

In conclusion Prof Lekgwara stated that according to the HPCSA register, South Africa has more than 300 qualified neurosurgeons, and lauds SMU for being the nerve centre of producing more Black neurosurgeons.

Strengthening Research and Development – SMU and CSIR sign Memorandum of Understanding

Strengthening Research and Development – SMU and CSIR sign Memorandum of Understanding

The SMU Vice-Chancellor: Prof Mbati and CSIR CEO: Dr Thulani Dlamini are proud to announce that Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research have formalised their collaboration through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The MoU signifies a strategic partnership aimed at advancing research, technology development, training, technology transfer and knowledge dissemination for the public good and national interest.

The CSIR, as a pre-eminent research and development organisation in South Africa, brings its expertise in various scientific disciplines to the partnership. On the other hand, SMU is a public higher education institution specialising in health sciences, renowned for its academic excellence, research and community engagement initiatives, dedicated to producing skilled professionals and contributing to the advancement of healthcare in South Africa.

The MoU between the CSIR and SMU underscores their mutual commitment to collaborate in the designated areas. By pooling their resources, expertise, and networks, both institutions aim to leverage their respective strengths to achieve greater impact in research and development.

By formalising their partnership through this MoU, the CSIR and SMU reaffirm their commitment to advancing scientific knowledge, fostering innovation and improving public health outcomes.

As the journey of collaboration unfolds, the CSIR and SMU look forward to realising the full potential of their partnership and contributing to the wellbeing of communities across South Africa.

VCs Desk - Strengthening Research and Development - SMU and CSIR sign Memorandum of Understanding

SMU Sport Officer Scoops Administrator of the Year Award

SMU Sport Officer Scoops Administrator of the Year Award

SMU Sports Officer, Ms Busisiwe Sijora scooped the Administrator of the Year award during the Gauteng Women in Sport Awards 2024, held in Kyalami, Midrand, on Saturday, 2 March 2024. The award is bestowed on individuals who have significantly advanced opportunities for women in sports, demonstrated excellence in their administrative roles, fostered inclusivity, contributed to capacity building, engaged in self-development and promoted excellence in sports management.

Being a finalist amongst esteemed sports administrators in the province was a testament to the calibre of competition and the rigorous standards set by the award criteria. Winning this award undoubtedly opens doors for Busisiwe to further her career, providing opportunities to engage in more significant initiatives, expand networks and to inspire others in the field of sports administration. “Winning the Administrator of the Year award was an unexpected honour amidst fierce competition. It reaffirmed the significance of persistent dedication and unwavering commitment to sports administration. This recognition not only validates the demanding work invested but also serves as a motivation to continue pushing boundaries and making impactful contributions to the sports community,” said Busisiwe.

As an administrator, her approach to performing duties diligently is founded on two key principles, namely, effective planning, and continuous personal development. “Firstly, I precisely organise tasks through a detailed to-do list, breaking them down into manageable segments on a monthly, weekly, and daily basis. This structured approach ensures that I stay on track and effectively manage my workload. Secondly, I prioritise communication with student-athletes, actively engaging with them to understand their challenges, aspirations, and feedback. By listening attentively, I can tailor administrative approaches to better meet their needs and foster a supportive environment,” shares Busisiwe.

Ms. Sijora recognises the importance of personal development in staying abreast of industry trends and best practices. To this end, she regularly participates in short courses and seeks opportunities to network with senior administrators. Additionally, she draws insights from Europe-based content on sports management, recognising that she can learn valuable lessons from institutions that are ahead of us in this field. “Furthermore, I actively seek guidance from mentors and engage with other professionals in senior sports positions at different spaces in the sports industry. This allows me to gain valuable insights into effective administrative practices and refine my approach accordingly. By continuously learning and adapting, I ensure that I am equipped to effectively meet the demands of sports administration and contribute positively to the field,” she said.

Her plans for the Sports Officer portfolio at the SMU Sports and Recreation Department involve implementing initiatives to enhance inclusivity and diversity within sports programmes, ensuring equitable opportunities for all; strengthening partnerships with external organisations to provide additional resources and opportunities for sports development; to enhance administrative efficiency through the implementation of innovative technologies and streamlined processes; continuously advocate for the advancement of women in sports through targeted initiatives and awareness campaigns; Foster a culture of excellence and sportsmanship within the university’s community through various engagement activities and events; Putting SMU Sport and  Recreation out there in terms of sharing our stories.

“Additionally, I feel there is a strong need to develop and expand mentorship programmes to nurture leadership skills and personal development among student-athletes. These kinds of programmes would aim to provide guidance, support, and opportunities for growth, empowering students to reach their full potential both on and off the field.”

In addition to her role as a Sports Officer at the SMU Sports and Recreation Department, she is actively engaged in the following leadership positions within the sports community: Vice Chairperson – USSA Football, Secretary – USSA Handball, and EXCO Member – South African Handball Federation. “Two years ago, I started an initiative to support sports graduates by creating a WhatsApp group dedicated to sharing sports-related job opportunities every week. This platform has served as a valuable resource for aspiring professionals, providing them with access to career opportunities and networking connections within the sports industry. I am proud to say that this initiative has not only opened doors for numerous sports graduates but has also brought hope and encouragement to many individuals pursuing their passion in sports administration and management,” she recalls.

Busisiwe is a multi-award-winning administrator, boosting an award-laden cabinet that encompasses a ten-year awards haul:

  • 2024 Administrator of the Year – Gauteng Women in Sports Awards – Provincial
  • 2023 Champion of Service – SMU Student Affairs Excellence Awards
  • 2023 Full Colours – SMU Student Affairs Excellence Awards
  • 2023 Administrator of the Year – Gauteng Women in Sports Awards – Tshwane
  • 2022 Administrator of the Year – Gauteng Women in Sports Awards – Tshwane
  • 2017 Administrator of the Year – TUT Sports Awards
  • 2017 International Participation – TUT Sports Awards
  • 2014 Best Student Administrator of the Year – TUT Sports Awards

Through her multifaceted involvement in sports leadership roles and initiatives, she is deeply committed to driving positive change and fostering growth within the sports community. She believes that collaboration, innovation, and mentorship are essential components for advancing the field of sports administration and creating impactful opportunities for all individuals involved.

Newsflash - SMU Sport Officer Scoops Administrator of the Year Award

SMU Commemorates Rare Disease Day

SMU Commemorates Rare Disease Day

Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University (SMU) and the Rare Advocacy Movement (RAM) in partnership with Rare360 observed Rare Disease Day (RDD) on the 29th of February 2024 under the theme ‘developing a global rare disease centre of excellence’. The day was commemorated to raise awareness about rare diseases and improve access to treatment and medical representation for individuals living with unusual diseases.

A rare disease is a medical condition that affects a small number of people compared to the general population. Types of rare diseases include Gaucher disease caused by enzyme deficiency that leads to the storage of complex lipids in certain types of blood cells, Haemophilia a blood disorder that stops blood from clotting properly and Cystic fibrosis is a genetic (inherited) disease that causes sticky, thick mucus to build up in organs, including the lungs and the pancreas amongst others.

SMU’s Vice-Chancellor Prof Peter Mbati welcomed all esteemed guests at the event and indicated that this day was held in honour and celebration of the incredible strength and resilience of those who are affected by rare diseases. He informed the audience that the Health Equity Diagnostic Infrastructure (HEDI) Initiative hosted by the RAM will partner with the university to establish a medical infrastructure as a global rare disease centre of excellence within SMU that will offer diagnostic and clinical services and support therapeutic research and development programmes. “My humble request to you is to help champion this course and for the Department of Health to work closely with us in the establishment of this global rare disease centre of excellence,” said Prof Mbati.

Gauteng MEC for Health and Wellness Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko said in her address that, it was an honour to stand before the audience on this occasion of Rare Disease Day. She explained that this day serves as an important reminder of the ongoing struggles faced in our country by individuals with these diseases and the importance of collective action taken in addressing these challenges. “In South Africa, many individuals with rare diseases face not only health challenges but also social and economic barriers. It is our duty as a community to ensure that no one is left behind in our pursuit of health equity. I would also like to extend my gratitude to the university and its leadership for hosting and organizing this event,” shares the MEC.

Founder and Chief Executive Office of Rare Disease South Africa Kelly du Plessis stressed issues around the Rare Disease Ecosystem. She showed that the ecosystem of rare diseases is overlooked within the borders of South Africa. She explained that numerous rare diseases silently affect lives by challenging individuals and families in ways that many of us cannot fully comprehend. “The ecosystem of rare diseases encompasses not only the patients, but also the healthcare providers, researchers, policymakers and carriers, and caregivers that navigate the intricate landscape of diagnosis, treatment, and support on a day-to-day basis. It is crucial that we recognize the importance of collaborative efforts by fostering a network of medical professionals, researchers, and advocates,” said Du Plessis.

Master of Science in Biochemistry student Siphesihle Mkhwanazi said his highlight of the event was meeting the exhibitors. He mentioned that he was able to exchange contacts and foster relationships for future collaborations, which could lead to publishing together with one of the exhibitors.

About 72% of rare diseases are estimated to have a genetic component. Starting in childhood: Around two-thirds of people living with a rare disease are children. Having a broad range of symptoms: Symptoms can vary greatly from disease to disease, and even from person to person with the same disease. Being difficult to diagnose.

In addressing the initiatives to prioritise the needs of rare disease patients and their families, RDD brought together a vibrant confluence of partners including advocacy groups, academia, industry professionals and allies, as well as regulatory authorities, public policy professionals, and political leaders. All of whom supported the rare disease community by advocating for improved access to treatment and allied services, as well as by engaging in activities that discuss novel solutions, the latest clinical cases and the future of rare disease therapeutics.

Newsflash - SMU Commemorates Rare Disease Day

SMU Lecturer appointed to serve on the Professional Board for Physiotherapy

SMU Lecturer appointed to serve on the Professional Board for Physiotherapy

SMU Physiotherapy Lecturer, Dr Makwena Sibuyi was recently appointed by the Minister of Health, Dr Joe Phaahla to serve on the Professional Board of Physiotherapy, Podiatry and Biokinetics of the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA). Her appointment is effective from 31 January 2024 until 31 October 2025.

Her appointment as a board member is informed by Regulations Relating to the Constitution of the Professional Board of Physiotherapy, Podiatry, and Biokinetics published on Government Notice R1246 in the Government Gazette 31633 of 28 November 2008. “The professional board requires a composite of five physiotherapists of which the majority should be coming from a group of people that were previously disadvantaged, such as women. The process entailed being nominated by physiotherapists whose names appeared in the registers of physiotherapists and have a valid postal address in the Republic of South Africa,” explains Dr Sibuyi.

She holds a Bachelor of Science in Physiotherapy (WITS), Master of Science in Physiotherapy (WITS) and Doctor of Philosophy in Physiotherapy from the University of Pretoria. She is currently pursuing a Postgraduate Diploma in Health Science Education at WITS. She is a School of Health Care Sciences’ Teaching and Learning Committee member. In addition, she is a scientific committee member of the 7th Annual Africa Interprofessional Health Conference 2024.

Her responsibilities as a board member are not only confined to her physiotherapy profession, but expand to other health professions such as podiatry and biokinetics. “My responsibilities are rooted in the Regulations relating to the functions and functioning of the Professional Board [Regulation No2]. I will be serving within the various established committees (Education, Training and Registration Committee, Committee of Preliminary Enquiries, Practice Committee, Biokinetics Internship Committee, and the Executive Committee) to guide the health professionals and to protect the public,” she further stated.

As a lecturer, her responsibilities entail being a fourth-year course coordinator; teaching paediatric physiotherapy modules for all year levels (from first to fourth year), reviewing the paediatric curriculum; supervising students at clinical sites; supervising undergraduate and postgraduate research; participating in community engagement activities and conducting research. She gives details on how her appointment will affect Physiotherapy offerings at SMU. “The knowledge and experience that I will acquire from the Professional Board will influence operations and inspire change at the level of the SMU Physiotherapy Department. Particularly with academic challenges relating to the education and training of physiotherapy students, curriculum reviews and reinforcing guidelines for student-staff ratio.”

Given the platform as a board member, there are key issues that affect the Physiotherapy profession that she believes need to be addressed urgently. She alluded that the key challenge is the distribution of physiotherapists in the public sector. Further stating that “There is a high proportion of physiotherapists serving in the Department of Health compared to those serving in the education sector. This imbalance is attributable to the increasing number of qualified physiotherapists not being retained post-community service year. Provincial Departments of Education, particularly, in rural provinces need to open more posts to ease off the pressure from health departments and appoint physiotherapists with similar benefits to those provided by the Department of Health.”

She hopes that her appointment is a positive move towards her growth at the HPCSA and Institutions of Higher Learning. She welcomes her appointment into the Professional Board and knows that she is just the person they were looking for.

Newsflash - SMU Lecturer appointed to serve on the Professional Board for Physiotherapy