Health

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

Dr Lungile Hobe received a Discovery Foundation Award in 2018.
Dr Lungile Hobe received a Discovery Foundation Award in 2018.
Image: Supplied/Discovery Foundation

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, Umthombo Youth Development Foundation graduate and Discovery Foundation Awards alumna.
Dr Lungile Hobe, Umthombo Youth Development Foundation graduate and Discovery Foundation Awards alumna.
Image: Supplied/Discovery Foundation

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, Umthombo graduate on the front line fighting Covid-19.
Dr Mfanukhona Nyawo, Umthombo graduate on the front line fighting Covid-19.
Image: Supplied/Discovery Foundation

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.” 

Read Dr Mfanukhona Nyawo’s story

 

 

 

Dr Phelelani Dludla: ‘We must become heroes of our own life stories’

Dr Phelelani Dludla, Umthombo graduate working to restore mental health and dignity in rural areas.
Dr Phelelani Dludla, Umthombo graduate working to restore mental health and dignity in rural areas.
Image: Supplied/Discovery Foundation

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.”

Read Dr Phelelani Dludla’s story

 

 

Dr Sabelo Mngomezulu: filling a dire need for dental services

Dr Sabelo Mngomezulu, Umthombo graduate and leader in his field.
Dr Sabelo Mngomezulu, Umthombo graduate and leader in his field.
Image: Supplied/Discovery Foundation

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.” 

Read Dr Sabelo Mngomezulu’s story

 

 

 

Simphiwe Phungula: fifth-year medical student set to take the world by storm

Simphiwe Phungula, Umthombo scholar and fifth-year medical student at UKZN.
Simphiwe Phungula Simphiwe Phungula, Umthombo scholar and fifth-year medical student at UKZN.
Image: Supplied/Discovery Foundation

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.”

Read Simphiwe Phungula’s story

Dumisani Mthembu: aspiring neurosurgeon with big dreams of helping his community

Dumisani Mthembu, Umthombo scholar and sixth-year medical student at University of Pretoria.
Dumisani Mthembu, Umthombo scholar and sixth-year medical student at University of Pretoria.
Image: Supplied/Discovery Foundation

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.”

Read Dumisani Mthembu’s story


Nokwanda Mathonsi: ‘We understand our communities better than anyone else’

Nokwanda Mathonsi.
Nokwanda Mathonsi.
Image: Supplied/Discovery Foundation

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, Umthombo scholar and fifth-year medical student at UKZN.
Mxolisi Xulu, Umthombo scholar and fifth-year medical student at UKZN.
Image: Supplied/Discovery Foundation

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.”

Read Mxolisi Xulu’s story

 

This is the final article in the series on the Umthombo Youth Development Foundation.

View the complete series here:

This article was paid for by the Discovery Foundation.



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