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Discovery awards boost research on rural health
Author: Liezel Engelbrecht
Published: 05/10/2017

Two family medicine registrars from Stellenbosch University's Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences recently received a much needed financial boost for their research that targets the improvement of rural health conditions.

Drs Karlien Doubell and Milton Groenwald both received a Rural Fellowship Award granted by the Discovery Rural Foundation. These awards are allocated to registrars in family medicine who have demonstrated a commitment to pursue a career in rural healthcare.

“The award focusses on MMed research with a contribution to medical knowledge in the rural health and community context," Groenwald says. Doubell believes the prevailing inequality of healthcare in South Africa is due to the lack of resources and funding, also for research. “That's why receiving this award is wonderful." Doubell received R25 000 and Groenwald R10 000 to put towards their respective studies.

Groenewald's research will focus on growth, associated co-morbidities and mortality in children under five after treatment for severe acute malnutrition in the Oudtshoorn sub-district. “The study will assess the impact of the current rehabilitative and nutritional management programme by looking at a set of indicators six months after discharge. Malnutrition is an important recognised cause of childhood mortality in South Africa. It also affects a child's intellectual capacity, and on the long run the ability to contribute to a skilled work force and subsequently the economic status and growth of the country," he explains. “I'm grateful for being able to make a contribution towards child health, especially towards the improvement of child nutrition and decreased mortality."

Doubell will be working in the Witzenberg sub-district on her research relating to a quality improvement cycle for TB contact management. “As in the rest of South Africa, TB places a great burden on the people living in the Witzenberg sub-district. We are still struggling with early case detection, thus people are still presenting at a late stage and in dire condition at the local hospital and clinics," she says. Doubell believes that the study could contribute towards improved TB contact management in rural areas and primary healthcare facilities across South Africa. “I have a big passion for rural healthcare and it fills me with great joy knowing that I can help communities most in need thereof."

Caption: Drs Milton Groenwald and Karlien Doubell.