Assessing the knowledge and perceptions of medical students from the Western Cape, South Africa, regarding the Millennium Development Goals
CITATION: Yeatman, T. et al. 2012. Assessing the knowledge and perceptions of medical students from the Western Cape, South Africa, regarding the Millennium Development Goals. South African Family Practice, 54(2):126-131.
The original publication is available at http://www.safpj.co.za
Background: Health science students are key players in implementing the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). Knowledge and understanding at university level is essential to achieve the goals by 2015. The primary objective of this study was to assess the knowledge and perceptions of fifth-year medical students at Stellenbosch University and the University of Cape Town regarding the MDG. The secondary objectives were to determine the degree to which students are involved in awareness campaigns and implementation of the MDG, and to assess students’ perceptions regarding the need for the MDG in South Africa. Method: This observational, descriptive, cross-sectional study collected quantitative data. A census was carried out. All participants completed a self-administered questionnaire. Results: Of the 176 participants, 61.14% said they had previously heard or read about the MDG. Forty per cent had heard about the MDG through awareness campaigns. More than half (54.86%) claimed to know what the MDG were, but could not name all of the goals. Participants identified a mean of three out of eight MDG correctly. The majority of students considered MDG implementation in South Africa important but ineffective (69.85%), and 85.82% believed that the MDG would not be achieved on time. Conclusion: It was found that fifth-year medical students in the Western Cape were not adequately informed about the MDG and their importance in South Africa. However, their perceptions were positive, in that the majority agreed that the implementation of the MDG in South Africa is important and that more needs to be done in creating awareness about the goals.