KwaZulu-Natal is poised to get South Africa’s first private medical university.What’s more, racial quotas won’t apply.Plans for the facility, including an academic hospital, were revealed this week by the province’s newly elected premier, Senzo Mchunu, in an exclusive interview with the Sunday Tribune.
The medical university and hospital is being planned for Newcastle and will be accessible to patients from KwaZulu-Natal, the Free State and Mpumalanga.
It will give the area a multibillion-rand boost.
In terms of the arrangement, the government will make the land available and the Manipal University will invest in the infrastructure.
The Manipal University is a prominent international institution of higher learning in India.
It was started more than 50 years ago by Dr Tonse Madhaya Anantha Pai. In 1953 he set up the Kasturba Medical College – the first private medical college in India.
The university offers Bachelors’, Masters’ and Doctoral degrees in over 20 specialities.
It has 26 000 students from over 54 countries with campuses in Bangalore, Mangalore, Sikkim, Jaipur, Dubai, Malaysia and Antigua.
Mchunu said the discussions were at an advanced stage and included Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi.
A national Health Department official said the hospital was expected to be bigger than the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital which has 846 beds.
As a pilot project, Manipal University has offered bursaries to 15 students who want to study pharmacy in India.
“The students going to Manipal University in August are not paying a cent. It was from this great idea that the idea of a local campus was born. We thought instead of sending 300 or so students to study medicine overseas, why can’t they do it here? So we want to partner with Manipal and for them to come here to build a greenfield project,” said Mchunu.
Mchunu said the university would solve two issues – the shortage of space at medical training facilities and quotas.
“We do not want our children to suffer. If a white fellow can afford to send his child to the university why not?
“It will also address the concerns of Indian people in South Africa. I don’t like it when I hear an Indian gogo from Chatsworth crying and complaining that she can’t get her child to medical school because of the quota system.
“With this partnership anyone who wants to study medicine and can afford to do so, can study in South Africa. They don’t need to go overseas.
“I have already engaged Dr Motsoaledi and we are expecting his response in this regard.”
In a wide-ranging interview Mchunu paid tribute to former KZN MEC for finance Ina Cronje.
He heaped praise on Cronje, saying her expertise had helped government rein in expenditure.
Mchunu also expressed his desire to tackle racial relations by looking into the quota system.