South Africa: Rural Health Workers Honoured

Published on allAfrica by Wilma Stassen

Creativity and an understanding of where your patients come from are key to being a successful rural doctor, says Dr Jenny Nash, who this week was named Rural Doctor of the Year.

Nash, who oversees primary healthcare clinics in Greater Kei in the Eastern Cape, was chosen by her peers in the Rural Doctors Association of Southern Africa (RuDASA) at their annual conference in Worcester this week.

"You have to be able to network with the doctors in the bigger centres and explain about a patient - so you can use WhatsApp, e-mail, send pictures, and sometimes you can save the patients having to travel themselves," says Nash.

Nash adds that it is essential to understand where patients come from "so that you can understand what is influencing patients, why they might not be not taking treatment and some of their beliefs that influence their health".

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Press Statement: Rural Awards acknowledge Perseverance in Rural Health

The Pierre Jacques Rural Doctor of the Year award was presented to Dr. Jenny Nash at the 18th Rural Health conference that was held in Worcester, 21-24 September 2014. The Provincial Rural Doctor of the Year award went to Dr. Hans Hendriks from Ceres hospital. The first ever award for the rural therapist of the year was presented to Jabu Ndlovu. What the award recipients have in common, is perseverance to make a difference in rural health, despite multiple challenges. The theme of the rural health conference was resilience, and this is demonstrated in the stories of each recipient.

Click Here for Full Press Statement 

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SA needs Rural Doctors - Opinion Piece

Although working conditions are tough in rural areas, doctors need to go where they are most needed, says a medical student.

Although working conditions are tough in rural areas, doctors need to go where they are most needed - writes medical student. (AFP)

I am a medical student; one of a mere 1 200 that will graduate each year in a country besieged by challenges in delivering health care to a primarily disadvantaged population.

It is not hard to imagine that medical students (and the doctors into whom we are moulded to become) have an inherent social conscience. As students, we want to help and heal people. All of us have worked incredibly hard to access one of the most sought-after study programmes in the country, and continue to work hard to graduate after six intense years of non-stop exams, clinical rotations, skills-building sessions, and hours spent in teaching hospitals around the country.

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No Mountain Too High for the 2013 Rural Doctors of the Year

RuDASA Press Statement: 

In a context where there are many bad-news stories, it is important that we recognise and celebrate good news. The stories of many dedicated rural doctors who provide amazing care to communities in need are seldom told. The Rural Doctors Association of Southern Africa (RuDASA) inaugurated an annual award for the rural doctor of the year in 2002, to acknowledge some of those unsung heroes.

The award is presented to a rural doctor, working at the coal face, who made a significant contribution towards rural health in the previous year. The award was named after Dr Pierre Jacques, a founder member of RuDASA and a doyen of rural practice in South Africa. He spent most of his working life at Elim Hospital in rural Limpopo province and was a tireless advocate for rural health and the role of the rural doctor in South Africa. The award is presented jointly by RuDASA, the HIV Clinicians’ Society and the Rural Health Advocacy Project.

The award was again presented at the 17th Annual Rural Health Conference in St Lucia on 9 August 2013.

Dr Ben and Dr Taryn Gaunt: Teamwork and Outstanding Local Leadership
The Pierre Jacques award for 2013 was awarded to a doctor couple, Ben and Taryn Gaunt, from Zithulele hospital in the Eastern Cape.

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Update: Ending Circumcision Deaths, Mutilations and Abuse (support letter)

On 13 August 2013, the Rural Doctors Association of South Africa, in conjunction with the Junior Doctors Association of South Africa, issued a letter of support for National and Provincial Task teams to end the unnecessary deaths, mutilations and abuse that are associated with traditional circumcisions each year. 

The letter may be viewed here

In addition, an analysis of the root causes, conducted in Pondoland, is available and may be viewed here

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