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Discovery Foundation partners with Standard Bank and University of Pretoria in initiative to support medical students

Press Release   •  Feb 15, 2017 09:47 GMT

The Discovery Foundation and the University of Pretoria today announced the implementation of a Medical Student Loan Guarantee Fund that will be managed by Standard Bank. Through the initiative, Discovery Foundation – an independent trust that has committed over R160 million in education, training and development of medical specialists and research centres over the past 10 years – will capitalise a separate loan fund intended to provide financial support to current and future qualifying medical students of the University of Pretoria.

Chairman of Discovery Foundation, Dr Vincent Maphai says, “Discovery supports our country’s goal to address shortages in medical and specialist skills. The Discovery Foundation has since 2006 awarded grants to fund critical areas of need in our public healthcare system, including specialist training and research.” The loan fund aims to support the many medical students who do not have access to full funding for their studies. Although different to the grants Discovery Foundation makes each year, Maphai says, “Providing medical students with financial support to complete their medical studies extends the purpose of Discovery Foundation and offers another mechanism to help strengthen our healthcare system.”

Discovery Foundation will initially capitalise the loan fund with R20 million, which will be used to raise loan funding from Standard Bank to a value of over R40 million per annum. The Fund is anticipated to operate over 14 years, and expects to support over 800 medical students over this period. The Fund provided 86 students with loans in 2016, and applications are now being received from students registering for MBChB from their second to sixth year of studies at the University of Pretoria in 2017. All qualifying students can apply each year to receive loans of up to of R100 000 per student, which will be repaid upon completion of their studies. .

This agreement between the Discovery Foundation and other parties follows a proposal to the Foundation by Professor Eric Buch, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Pretoria. Professor Buch says, “Over two years ago, I started seeing many medical students experiencing gaps in funding, which affected completion of their studies. I presented these concerns and how it could be alleviated to several institutions, including Discovery.”

Standard Bank has a strong existing presence in student loan management. On partnering with them, Maphai says, “They were as excited to be involved, and efficiently met all the operational requirements to ensure implementation for the 2016 student intake of medical students at University of Pretoria.” Zanele Mbere from Standard Bank says. “We provide support for different education programmes to spur social and economic growth and development. We could implement all the requirements on time for this particularly inspiring support programme, and we look forward to seeing this fund grow and help many medical students become the doctors of the future.”

“By offering additional or top-up financial assistance to South African medical students who need it, we can ensure the continued development of medical professionals who can in future provide the quality care our country envisions,” says Maphai. He also confirmed that although the Fund will initially support medical students from University of Pretoria only, it may expand access to more medical students and to medical faculties of other universities in South Africa over time, depending on the success of the initial roll out.

About Discovery Foundation

Set up in 2006 as one element of Discovery Limited’s Black Economic Empowerment transaction, the Discovery Foundations disburses grants aimed to at training specialists for rural areas, developing academic medicine and research centres and increasing the number of Sub-specialists in the country to adequately meet the country’s healthcare needs. Each year, these funds are disbursed to a number of selected recipients through the Discovery Foundation Awards, which consists of a series of grants that enable recipients to specialise further in the medical field of their choice. Through these awards, we are boosting South Africa’s reputation as an international hub of academic excellence and clinical research, contributing to the nation’s future health and wellbeing.

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About Discovery Limited

Discovery Limited is a South African-founded financial services organisation that operates in the healthcare, life assurance, short-term insurance, savings and investment products and wellness markets. Founded in 1992, Discovery was guided by a clear core purpose – to make people healthier and to enhance and protect their lives. Underpinning this core purpose is the belief that through innovation, Discovery can be a powerful market disruptor.

The company, with headquarters in Johannesburg, South Africa, has expanded its operations globally and currently serves over 5 million clients across South Africa, the United Kingdom, the United States, China, Singapore and Australia. Discovery recently partnered with Generali, a leading insurer in Europe, and has partnered with John Hancock in the US. These new partnerships will bring Discovery’s shared-value business model to protection industries in Europe and the US.

Vitality, Discovery’s wellness programme, is the world’s largest scientific, incentive-based wellness solution for individuals and corporates. The global Vitality membership base now exceeds three million lives in five markets.

Discovery is an authorised financial services provider and trades under the code “DSY” on the Johannesburg Securities Exchange. 

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