A desire to play a role in improving health-related matters in communities spurred the research of two graduates – Ms Zandile Msimango and Ms Bridget Msomi – who were awarded Master’s degrees in Community and Development.
Msimango says her interest in health-related issues began after exposure to chronic illnesses such as HIV/AIDS led her to expand her knowledge on the subject.
Community Development being a multi-disciplinary field allowed her to select a health-related topic that examined whether sufficient emotional support is given to cancer patients.
Msimango’s study revealed that there was a lack of emotional support services for cancer patients and no measures were in place for the Department of Health to promote emotional health care for them. The findings also highlighted some of the key challenges experienced by cancer patients in public hospitals.
‘Access to healthcare is a basic human right and government should aim to provide universal and equitable access to high-quality health care services,’ said Msimango.
She thanked her supervisor Dr Phindile Shangase for her support.
Msomi whose research focused on the impact of community participation in HIV prevention programmes, said following this career path had helped improve her perception of life through meeting different people during her research, ‘My masters studies have helped me increase my knowledge and prepare for my future – I learned a lot from the individuals that I selected to participate in my study,’ she said.
Msomi did research on the Woza Asibonisane Community Responses (ACR) programme which is aimed at reducing the number of new HIV infections as well as the vulnerability of the infected and affected.
Msomi’s study examined three preventative interventions – behavioural (sex education and programmes to reduce stigma and discrimination), biomedical (condoms, testing and treatment) and structural interventions (addressing inequality).
She thanked her mother, Ms Nokuthula Zwane, and her supervisor, Dr Shangase, for their support.
She had this to say to colleagues: ‘Just keep this in mind – if your dissertation has not made you cry then there is something you’re not doing right!’