DRILL for Research Excellence
The College of Health Sciences (CHS) met with the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health (DoH) recently to discuss collaboration on the University’s Developing Research Innovation, Localisation and Leadership (DRILL) project.
DRILL is a flagship project for the CHS, a D43 US National Institutes of Health (NIH) International Research Training Award 2015-2020.
UKZN’s Department of Rural Health HOD, Dr Mosa Moshabela, said the project aimed to develop local health solutions for local problems and still be part of the competitive global knowledge society through developing advanced researchers.
‘CHS will implement the five-year multidisciplinary international research training programme for “junior faculty” members, under the following scientific areas: Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS), Mental Health, Health Professions’ Education and Health Systems Strengthening and Research Ethics,’ said Moshabela.
The project’s goal is to produce 20 high quality scientists in five years, sufficiently skilled to lead socially valuable, locally relevant and culturally sensitive research programmes designed around the health challenges facing South Africa and KwaZulu-Natal.
DRILL hopes to benefit health professionals including nurses. ‘The programme will develop innovative researchers who can become leaders in their fields,’ said Moshabela.
He said it was important to destigmatise research. ‘Research is not only for academics. It needs to include nurses and all health workers. We need to invest in the human resources available and DRILL is one way we can take a step forward towards knowledge production.’
UKZN and KZN DoH have since 2013 embarked on a joint mission to transform both the healthcare and education systems to better align with each other, with a joint vision to become more socially accountable and responsive.
‘The DRILL training programme is founded on this joint mission of the University and Department in an effort to establish a new generation of faculty members suited to deliver, support and lead reformed health professional training and development located outside of the metropolitan areas in KwaZulu-Natal,’ Moshabela said.
DRILL is a response to the challenges of low research capacity in African universities. It aims to improve the environment for research as well as a deliberate strategy to develop both individual and institutional research capacity.
DoH HOD, Dr Sifiso Mtshali, said the Department appreciated the invitation to be part of the project and said he would love to discuss his Department’s involvement.
Health MEC, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, who was visibly excited about the project encouraged his HOD Dr Mtshali to showcase the project to the Cabinet. He commended UKZN’s Medical School for being actively involved with the Department of Health. ‘UKZN has the only Medical School ready to accept students from Cuba,’ said Dhlomo.