THE ROLE OF TELEHEALTH IN EDUCATION
South Africa faces many burdens, many of which end up reposing in the health sector. With an historic imbalance in the training of health care professionals from the Apartheid era still persisting fourteen years after the advent of democracy, the ubiquitous shortage of health care professionals in South Africa poses many challenges to the already burdened health and education sectors.
Adding to this need is the high turnover and loss of staff due to: poor working conditions, inadequate salaries, security concerns and the attractions offered by developed countries. New ways and novel approaches are required to rapidly train and produce much needed health care professionals, such as psychologists, where in a society of some 48 million people there are less than 6000 psychologists in practice and direct service roles.
This paper describes the procedure and approaches used to teach psychology to medical postgraduate students at various clinical sites in the Province of KwaZulu-Natal, one of the more populous of South Africa’s nine provinces. In utilizing this Telehealth modality of ongoing training, postgraduate health practitioners do not have to regularly travel to the University for their academic requirement of teaching and training. A critical aspect is that there is little or no disruption of clinical service provision and problem-based learning is emphasized, without loss of theoretical underpinnings.
The resources needed as well as the advantages and challenges experienced in implementing this novel Telehealth program are discussed. The approach seems to have much promise and can be very effective in contexts outside South Africa where there are both abundance and scarcity of resources.
© 2008 Victor Karandashev