Improving health care

2017-06-06 13:52
Changing the face of rural health-care Sihle Ngobese (left) and Yolanda Ngobese.

Changing the face of rural health-care Sihle Ngobese (left) and Yolanda Ngobese. (Nokuthula Khanyile)

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Two young Pietermaritzburg doctors have joined hands to transform both rural and township health care by opening up medical centres in Edendale, Elandskop and Impendle.

General practitioners Sihle Ngobese (31) and his wife Yolanda Ngobese (30) co-own the three medical centres. They are also affiliated with eight other doctors to open the Edendale clinic, which operates until 10 pm daily.

The services they offer include comprehensive wellness screening (blood pressure, cholesterol, weight, and blood pressure), family planning and HIV testing and whoonga addiction treatment.

“After our community service we were blown away by how much our services are needed.

“Speaking to our people in the language they understand and ensuring they have adequate health-care supplies to sustain them, and educating them about their conditions was critical.”

Starting up was a trial and they said they were faced with many challenges, including stock shortages and manpower shortages, as they started working from a community hall.

Sihle and Yolanda obtained their medical degrees from UKZN and the University of Free State respectively. In 2014, they officially opened the first centre in Elandskop.

“Government clinics are usually overcrowded and are in remote areas; it has always been our vision to set up health-care centres where they were much needed. Newly qualified doctors decline to be placed in rural or township areas and there is a serious shortage of health care services there,” said Sihle.

Yolanda said they have found that patients are very open when they converse in their home language.

“There is no language barrier and it is easy for them to grasp instructions. They don’t have to tell a nurse what is wrong with them, they tell you directly and it makes things simpler,” she said.

Sihle added that what makes their jobs fulfilling is seeing their patients happy and healthy.

“People here are very appreciative, they come back to say thank you and that is satisfying.

“The communities are warm and they have welcomed us with open arms. They even bring us fresh vegetables from their gardens to take home. Once an elderly man from Elandskop offered me a goat for my son and I had to decline because I don’t have a kraal at home,” said Sihle.

More than providing health care for locals they say they wanted to be role models to the youth in these areas who take drugs.

“Substance abuse is a huge problem where we are. You have 12-year-olds coming in for whoonga addiction treatment and we want to be here so they look up to us and aspire to be in our shoes one day. There are not that many role models in townships and rural areas.”

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  pmb people

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