MLC at Murchison

Murchison Hospital has been identified as an ideal site to pilot some of the ideas for the establishment of the rural teaching platform.  Murchison Hospital is a district hospital with 260 usable beds. The hospital serves a catchment population of 200,000 and receives referrals from eight satellite clinics. It forms part of a complex with other district hospitals like St Andrew’s Hospital in Harding.

Murchison Hospital is located in the Ugu district on Main Harding and Kokstad road on the South Coast of KwaZulu–Natal, and is 13 km from the town of Port Shepstone (see map below).  Ugu has been identified as one of the ten most deprived health districts in South Africa, according to the District Health Barometer 2007/08. 

Map showing the geographical location of Murchison Hospital, Ugu District

Source: KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health

Murchison hospital has also been used as a site for placement of medical students as part of the 2 week rural placement for a number of years and in 2011 a park home has been donated to the hospital premises by Centre for Rural Health (CRH) for student accommodation.

Murchison is seen as an ideal site for the piloting and development of a rural clinical school for a number of reasons. These include:

  • The proximity of a range of services with the wider health care system. These include the district hospital of Murchison itself, a number of primary care clinics, including a busy Community Health Centre in close proximity (approximately 10 km from the site), a regional hospital with well-developed services (Port Shepstone Hospital) as well as a range of NGO’s such as Hospice, private practitioners and community-based organisations. There are few rural hospitals where such a well-developed service platform is available in such proximity.

  • The relative proximity to Durban. The site is situated approximately 120km form Durban which allows for short visits.

  • Availability of a suitable site.  The availability of a suitable site which has some developments on it that allows for rapid setting up of the program as well as available land for future development in close proximity of Murchison Hospital further makes the site ideal.

There is also a longstanding relationship between the extended service platform and District level services and UKZN, which is a sound foundation to build future endeavours on.


A successful meeting with the management at Murchison (MH) Hospital has been held.  A site, the Murchison Mission located one kilometre from the hospital has been identified for the establishment of the MLC (see map below).  The land is currently owned by the Murchison Mission who had been running Murchison Hospital prior to the nationalisation of mission hospital in the mid 1970’s. The mission would like to sell the land and view the continued relationship of the activities on the site with the health service in a very favourable light.

Map showing the portions (1-7) of land available

UKZN will need to purchase this land for development of a decentralised rural campus.  This process will take some time and MEPI is working together with the UKZN College Management to ensure that this occurs as soon as possible.  However, in the interim, MEPI has begun renting one of the houses from the Murchison Mission which is undergoing some renovations to be converted into the teaching centre.  Later in 2012, two more houses will become available for rent and will be appropriately equipped for accommodation of students and facilitators.  UKZN Medical School will be the parent site that is set up for video conferencing

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