SAPS Forensic Analyst Graduates with PhD in Public Health Medicine
The Feasibility of Developing and Implementing a Point-of-Care (POC) Diagnostics Curriculum through the Use of Mobile Learning in Rural Clinics in KwaZulu-Natal was explored in a doctoral study.
The aim of the work is to contribute towards improving the quality of HIV testing services in resource-limited settings.
The thesis was completed by a South African Police Services (SAPS) forensic analyst, Dr Nkosinothando Chamane who graduated with a PhD in Public Health Medicine.
‘I feel very honoured and privileged to have been able to complete my doctorate while the whole world was under so much pressure as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,’ said Chamane. ‘I hope to make a difference in the research and development sector and thus encourage more South African women to pursue postgraduate studies and contribute to the world of knowledge.’
Supervised by Professor Tivani Mashamba-Thompson, Chamane says the study revealed that only limited research had been done on the utility, efficiency and acceptability of experiential learning approaches for primary health care (PHC)-based professionals.
It also showed that:
• Experiential learning approaches provide an important practical aspect on curriculum delivery not easily taught in lecture-based settings
• The reflection step of experiential learning is a useful tool for identifying the root causes of health systems’ inefficiencies and to inform policy making
• It is feasible to develop and implement a context-specific curriculum to improve the quality of POC diagnostic services in rural PHC clinics through mobile learning, however digital inequalities due to resource barriers still need to be addressed
Collaborations with relevant stakeholders, network providers and specialists in eHealth were recommended to better prepare rural clinics for future adoption of technology-based training interventions.
Chamane says she has always wanted to undertake a study that would have a practical impact on society as well as contribute towards global priorities. With South Africa said to have the highest number of HIV/AIDS cases in the world as well as the highest uptake of antiretroviral treatment ‘conducting a study towards improving the quality of HIV testing services through the use of technology proved to be the best choice to contribute towards improving healthcare equity in resource limited settings.’
Her biggest challenge was funding and being able to balance being a full-time student and an employee of the South African Police Services. ‘It’s hard to get funding when you are employed and although I did get some funding from the College of Health Sciences scholarship, I had to forfeit the first year of those funds due to challenges with delays in receiving ethical clearance.
‘However, I received a lot of support from my family and my supervisor who was always ready to assist and motivate me.’
All six chapters of her PhD thesis have been accepted for publication as manuscripts in reputable international journals.
Words: Nombuso Dlamini
Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan