The UL Trust has, over several years, built up an excellent relationship with the people of Japan through the Japanese Embassy in Pretoria. Thanks to the persistent efforts of the Trust’s Carina Marais, the SMU-linked Medicos Special School (for children with severe mental handicaps) was established with a range of funders – among them the Japanese who financed an initial eight classrooms for the school in 2003, and added 3 more in 2013.

Now it’s the turn of SMU’s Faculty of Medicine. This time the Japanese Embassy has been instrumental in providing the faculty with two fully equipped wellness centres. The value of this donation is in excess of R1-million.

Prof Chris de Beer, Interim Vice-Chancellor of SMU receiving the keys to the vehicles from Mr Shuichiro Kawaguchi, Minister of Japan to the Republic of South Africa.

The wellness centres are particularly appropriate at this time as SMU becomes increasingly focused on the concept of ‘in-service learning’ for their student doctors – as well as students in other health care professions. In SMU’s densely populated peri-urban environment there is ample scope for interaction with communities, many of which are without easily accessible health care facilities.

The Japanese vehicle manufacturers, Toyota, have converted two four-wheel-drive Land Cruisers to serve as primary health care delivery clinics for and as learning centres for SMU lecturers and students. Part of the equipment to be supplied will be medical backpacks which can be carried into the homes of individuals requiring care. The vehicles will also serve as lecture points for the important preventive and promotive aspects of community-based primary health care.