Faculty of Health Sciences launches first purely online postgraduate diploma in TB management

3 Sep 2015 - 11:00

The Faculty of Health Sciences recently achieved a milestone with the accreditation of it’s first purely online postgraduate diploma. Run by the Desmond Tutu HIV Centre, in partnership with the International Centre for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs (ICAP) at Columbia University and the Faculty the Postgraduate Diploma in TB-HIV Management is aimed at equipping doctors and nurses with the necessary life-saving skills to treat HIV and TB infected patients at primary care level. While many healthcare workers are interested in upgrading their skills/furthering their education, this is not always possible because of logistics. This online programme gives healthcare workers the opportunity to study at a time that suits them, from the comfort of their own homes.

Back row left to right: Miss Melissa May (Academic facilitator), Ms Dawn Daniels (E-learning developer), Dr Shahra Sattar (Project leader)

Front row left to right: Ms Barbara Hutton (E-learning developer), Dr Shafiyah Coovadia (Lecturer)

Absent: Dr Sabine Verkuijl (based in Belgium









Developed by leading experts in the fields of TB and HIV medicine, the online diploma is beautifully designed with rich, interactive content. While ensuring that the clinician is up to date with the latest South African guidelines, it also provides tools to conduct operational research in facilities and thus improve healthcare delivery systems from the ground up.

A generous grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, via ICAP Columbia University, provided the initial funding with a mandate to create online TB and HIV short-courses for rural doctors. After over five years of hard work, with many individuals contributing, four courses have collectively been accredited as an official postgraduate diploma through UCT, the first in the Faculty of Health Sciences that can be achieved online.

The modules are designed to be highly interactive, easily accessible and relative to the contexts in which students work. Lessons are downloadable and even accessible via mobile phone. Using a variety of interactive tools such as Storyline, Adobe Connect and Vula students will receive the equivalent of face-to-face learning through live lectures, extensive academic support which includes step by step guidance on planning assignments, and opportunities to monitor their progress through self-assessment. Through forums and chartrooms, students will also have the opportunity to build networks for consulting beyond the course.

“The peer learning aspects of the courses are a great springboard for networking. Students respond to each other’s idea on forums and they love the chartrooms. It is a diverse approach to learning, which is enhanced by the fact that the practitioners are from different areas around the country,” says academic facilitator Melissa May.

Learning is also encouraged away from the virtual classroom. Principles such as reflection are embedded into the modules to enable students to build on their clinical practice. Lessons learnt in the comfort of their home in the evening, can be applied practically to their specific facility the next day.

Positive feedback from the four courses over the years, shows promise for the newly accredited postgraduate diploma. “One of our students remarked after a course that she has now become the resource for TB and HIV and is now seen as the expert in her facility. Which is lovely for the team to hear because it means that we have impacted a wider network beyond the student that actually took the course” says project leader Dr Sharha Sattar.

The course begins in 2016 with intake commencing at the end of this year.

For further information please contact Melissa May: Melissa.Slabbert@hiv-research.org.za