GPU welcomes South African PhD student Helen Malherbe

September 27, 2014

Members of the GPU were pleased to welcome Helen Malherbe last Thursday, September 25th, for a short visit. Helen is over from Johannesburg for a two-week visit to gather background data for her PhD on medical education related to inherited disorders. She wanted to come and speak to GPU members about our work on nursing competencies and the Telling Stories resource. In particular, Helen was interested in learning about the approaches we have used to develop and revise the nursing competency framework and the importance of engaging stakeholders in this. She was also very appreciative of the close links between the framework and Telling Stories.

Helen also told us a little about her work, with her background in science communication and her role as Chair of the South African Inherited Disorders Association (SAIDA). She told us that the incidence of congenital disorders in South Africa is 1 in 14 live births, of which over 76% are genetic or partially genetic, but with most going undiagnosed. Of particular concern however, is that medical services in South Africa are in decline because of competing healthcare priorities, mostly around development of services to combat HIV/AIDS. Helen reported that current services available for the care and prevention of congenital disorders are now at a lower base than in 2001. There is an urgent need to train more medical geneticists and counsellors, and this is part of the impetus for Helen’s PhD study.

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