Colleagues from the University California – Los Angeles (UCLA) in the United States visited Bethesda Hospital in Ubombo in northern KwaZulu-Natal as part of a growing relationship between the UKZN Family Medicine Department and UCLA.

Bethesda Hospital is a centre for the training of family medicine registrars and for the rural block medical students to complete in their final-year of study.

The relationship with UCLA started when Bethesda was identified a number of years ago as a site for electives in a global health programme for UCLA undergraduates.

Bethesda has hosted a number of the UCLA students who thoroughly enjoy the experience of seeing how a high quality service is being provided in rural KwaZulu-Natal.

Associate Dean for Student affairs at UCLA’s Medical School Professor Lee Miller says Bethesda has been a favourite site for the elective students.

Besides the clinical exposure, students also get a chance to understand the social determinants of health in the context of a community with high levels of deprivation. The students also interact with UKZN colleagues during their rural block, promoting more international exchanges.

Further collaborations between the two departments were explored including a possible exchange programme and formalising the relationship through a Memorandum of Understanding.

The next group of UCLA students arrive in April next year.

Words: Nombuso Dlamini