In a country as diverse as South Africa doctors and health care professionals should be able to communicate meaningfully and intelligibly in the language of the patient's choice and demonstrate cultural sensitivity towards patients. This principle is an integral part of transformative learning in the Faculty and in 2012 a wide-ranging language initiative, known as the FMHSUlwimi initiative, was introduced to bridge cultural and language divides between health care professions students and patients.
Aimed at improving health care outcomes, the FMHSUlwimi initiative informs the Faculty's efforts to redesign and transform health sciences education to meet the needs of South African society.
isiXhosa and Afrikaans clinical communication skills training in the clinical setting are being introduced in all our undergraduate programmes. Currently, Human Nutrition, Occupational Therapy, and Speech, Language and Hearing Therapy students receive intensive small group teaching tuition in isiXhosa and Afrikaans throughout the year. MB,ChB and Physiotherapy will receive, in addition to preclinical isiXhosa training, clinical communication skills in isiXhosa and Afrikaans from 2014.
Extensive development of learning materials in isiXhosa and Afrikaans is underway in each of the 5 programmes specific terminology. We have also initiated a novel e-learning isiXhosa and Afrikaans programme that supplements both student learning, as well as formative and summative assessment. A number of research projects focussing on this initiative have been started. The project has drawn significant interest, including a recent visit by the Pan South African Language Board.