8 young doctors to watch: the future of rural health care is in good hands
Discovery Foundation celebrates Umthombo Youth Development Foundation scholars determined to improve rural health care in their communities
For close to 20 years, the Discovery Fund has been a proud supporter of the Umthombo Youth Development Foundation. Umthombo has had 428 graduates across 18 health science disciplines, and continues to support around 250 students every year.
We celebrate the young doctors and medical students of the future — Umthombo scholars that are determined to change the face of rural health care.
These are their stories ...
Dr Lungile Hobe: Advocate for women’s health
Dr Lungile Hobe is a medical officer at Mseleni Hospital in rural KwaZulu-Natal. She’s passionate about women’s health, improving rural health care, and making her mother proud.
“Being a doctor was my mom’s dream. What was really inspiring about my mom was that even though she was a rural girl, she had high hopes, dreams and aspirations for her life. Going into medicine for me was a way of giving back to her.”
Dr Mfanukhona Nyawo strives to uplift the youth of Manyiseni
Dr Mfanukhona Nyawo is determined to help young people in his community achieve the same heights as he has.
“We don’t choose to be role models, but our behaviour and actions, for example making other people successful, influence how people see you. My goal is to see young people getting the same opportunities as me, if not better.”
Dr Phelelani Dludla: ‘We must become heroes of our own life stories’
Dr Phelelani Dludla, a medical officer at Benedictine District Hospital in rural KwaZulu-Natal, is studying psychiatry to help his community.
“It’s challenging to provide this service in the rural areas due to limited support. It involves working on restoring mental wellbeing and dignity to clients and families who suffer from a mental health condition.
“I also assist in integrating mental health patients back into communities.”
Dr Sabelo Mngomezulu: filling a dire need for dental services
Dentist Dr Sabelo Mngomezulu strives to improve the quality of life of the people of Ingwavuma, KwaZulu-Natal.
“I chose dentistry because during the weeks I spent observing different disciplines at Mosvold Hospital, I realised that there was a huge gap in oral hygiene care.
“There was little, if anything, that was being done at the hospital to cater for oral health and the community was not informed about oral hygiene.”
Simphiwe Phungula: fifth-year medical student set to take the world by storm
Simphiwe Phungula is a future leader who wants to raise awareness on sexual health in her community.
“Talking about reproductive and sexual health is almost taboo in our communities. This allows avoidable conditions such as unwanted pregnancy, cervical cancer and HIV to continue. It all starts with awareness, like making sure all women know that they should regularly do pap smears to screen for cervical cancer.”
Dumisani Mthembu: aspiring neurosurgeon with big dreams of helping his community
Dumisani Mthembu aspires to specialise in neurosurgery, particularly paediatric neurosurgery, once he completes his bachelor of medicine and surgery degree.
“My community has a lot of unresolved behavioural issues — from alcoholism to teenage pregnancy. These exacerbate the levels of crime and poverty in our society. A deeper understanding of the brain anatomy and physiology will give me the upper hand to summon the professionals in the field such as social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists, so we can eventually uproot the problem.
“As a long-term dream, I’d like to open a sanatorium that will cater to rural people’s needs.”
Nokwanda Mathonsi: ‘We understand our communities better than anyone else’
Nokwanda Mathonsi aspires to transforming rural health care, particularly for women.
“I want to raise more health awareness among the women in my community. Women are the ones taking care of everyone and everything. In that process, they tend to neglect paying attention to themselves. If they have a health condition, they usually take it lightly and delay coming in for a consultation because they are busy.”
Read Nokwanda Mathonsi’s story
Mxolisi Xulu: ‘I wish to see rural youth taking up space on Earth’
Mxolisi Xulu wants to inspire young people to follow their dreams.
“Nothing motivates me like imagining the lives of the youth I could change. I wish to see rural youth taking up space on Earth. In 2018, I registered an NGO called Black Child’s Dreams Matter where we promote a culture of learning and make learners aware of different careers and universities.
"We are also restoring dignity and liberation to poor rural learners through career expos, school visits and winter schools.”
This is the final article in the series on the Umthombo Youth Development Foundation.
View the complete series here:
- Celebrating our #HealthHeroes: Umthombo nursing graduates make a big difference in society
- Umthombo students overcome great odds to become health care professionals
- Building a community of health care workers one student at a time
This article was paid for by the Discovery Foundation.