Meet Dr Coceka Mfundisi, who was one of the first black women to qualify as a neurosurgeon in SA

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Dr Coceka Mfundisi was one of the first black women to qualify as a neurosurgeon in South Africa, carving out her exceptional career against many odds. Photo supplied by Urban Espresso
Dr Coceka Mfundisi was one of the first black women to qualify as a neurosurgeon in South Africa, carving out her exceptional career against many odds. Photo supplied by Urban Espresso
  • When researching powerful women in medicine, it became clear that there are many incredible women doing incredible things in this country.
  • Specifically, amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, the medical industry has been a critical focus around the world, and we’re experiencing a renewed appreciation for those who do their best to take care of our health.
  • Here we chat to Dr Coceka Mfundisi about how she carved her exceptional career against many odds.

The medical field has experienced many advances in recent times as a result of Covid-19 and the need to social distance, among other things.

Fedhealth is one such company that has recently launched ‘Hospital At Home’ service is one innovative way that the medical industry is adapting to serve our changing needs.

This service brings all the essential elements of in-patient care to a patient’s home, including real-time patient monitoring. It gives members the option to receive active treatment for a specified period at home instead of a general hospital ward.

READ MORE | Working from home is not working for our health

There are also a number of virtual doctor's service available around the country, meaning that the better you know your healthcare professional, the easier it may be to transition to the new way of doing health.

Such initiatives mean also you are most likely to come into contact with healthcare professionals in a ‘new normal’ setting. Therefore, why not get to know some of them a little better? Over the next few months, we’ll be speaking to South African women in medicine to find out what inspired them to pursue their careers.

Dr Mfundisi practices in Johannesburg, providing care for brain, skull and spine conditions, including emergencies in adults and children.

READ MORE | Will 2021 be the year sweatpants unseat jeans as the go-to fashion item for all occasions?

When asked who has inspired her to achieve what she has, she lists a variety of strong and inspirational women.

“My grandmother, MaMyirha, was a rural woman and housewife who was widowed at an early age and had to fend for herself to raise her young children. She showed great interest in my scholastic abilities and fostered in myself discipline and dedication,” says Dr Mfundisi.

 Dr Coceka Mfundisi, doctor, neurosurgeon, profile
Meet Dr Coceka Mfundisi had strong role models in her family who inspired her to live outside the box. Photo supplied by Urban Espresso

She also cites her aunt and mother, a nurse and librarian respectively, for shaping her views of what women could achieve: “They both defied any laws that in their view were set against women and always sought to challenge that status quo that expects women to be less than,” Dr Mfundisi says.

“Professor Elelwani Ramugondo has been another inspiration to me, an occupational therapist who works against systemic discrimination in medical research,” she ends. 

Dr Mfundi speaks five South African languages, loves teaching and mentoring and is available for speaking engagements.

READ MORE | It’s not just you – work during Covid has become much harder

For further inspiration, we could look to Prudence Mabele. She became one of the first black South African women to declare her HIV-positive status, which led to the start of a lifetime worth of tireless campaigning. Or Dr Mary Malahlela, the first African woman to qualify as a medical practitioner in South Africa.

Or Professor Lynette Denny, who has dedicated her life to cervical cancer prevention and treatment and has become globally known for her pioneering research in this regard. 

Everywhere you turn, there are brave, bold, dedicated South African women striving to improve the state of our health in this country. It’s worth celebrating and acknowledging these beacons of hope, especially in times like these. 

Source: BBC

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