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The approach used by the Umthombo Youth Development Foundation is more than a simple bursary 'hand out'. Rather, it is one of the few long term solutions to the challenge of recruiting and retaining quality health care professionals for South Africa's rural areas. Research has shown that health professionals are more likely to choose to work in a rural hospital if that is they orginate, or if they are exposed to the realities of rural health care delivery whilst doing their university training.
We have numerous significant partnerships including funders, the Department of Health, the community but the most important in terms of implementing the programme is the local hospital. Together with the rural hospital, we identify, train and support rural youth to become qualified health professionals, who in turn commit to work at the local hospital for their contract period.
The UYDF has produced 185 graduates and currently supports 205 students studying a wide range of health science disciplines - Medicine, Physiotherapy, Pharmacy, Occupational Therapy, Nutrition, Biomedical Technology, Social Work, Optometry, Dental Therapy, Dentistry, Environmental Health, Speech Therapy, Social Work, Nursing, Radiology and Psychology.