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.
Rural Doctor of the Year,
We celebrate unsung heroes who makes a difference in a rural context. The Rural Doctors Association of Southern Africa (RuDASA) inaugurated an annual award for the Rural Doctor of the Year in 2002.
The award is presented to a rural doctor, working at the coal face, who is judged by the RuDASA Committee to have made a significant contribution towards rural health in the previous year. It is intended to be awarded to a practicing rural doctor rather than to someone who has made achievements in the academic arena. It is also awarded for a specific contribution within the previous year rather than for long service. The nature of the contribution is not defined given the great variety of work and activities of rural doctors.
The award was named after Dr Pierre Jaques, 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 has been a tireless advocate for rural health and the role of the rural doctor in South Africa.
The first recipient of the award, in 2002, was Dr Thys von Mollendorf, previously medical superintendent of Rob Ferreira Hospital in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga. Subsequent recipients of the award have been as follows:
2003: Dr Victor Fredlund, from Mseleni Hospital in northern KwaZulu-Natal
2004: Dr Hermann Reuter, from MSF in Lusikisiki in the Eastern Cape
2005: Dr Nigel Hoffman from Rietvlei Hospital in the Eastern Cape
2006: Dr Vanga Siwisa from Taung, North West Province
2007: Dr Gert Marincowitz from Tzaneen, Limpopo Province
2008: Dr Munyadziwa Kwinda, from Donald Fraser Hospital, Limpopo Province
2009: Dr JJ Ogole from Piet Retief Hospital, Mpumalanga
2010: Dr M Kekana from Hlabisa Hospital, KwaZulu-Natal
2011: Dr KR Adigun from Bethal Hospital, Mpumalanga
2012: Dr Kelly Gate from Bethesda Hospital, KwaZulu-Natal
2013: Dr Ben and Taryn Gaunt from Zithulele Hospital, Eastern Cape
2014: Dr Jenny Nash from Amahlathi District, Eastern Cape
2015: Dr Ndiviwe Mphothulo from Taung District in North West Province
2016: Dr Nomolindo Makubalo from Nelson Mandela Bay District Eastern Cape
CALL FOR NOMINATIONS
Nominations should be accompanied by details of the nominee, including his/her place of work and contact details, as well as a clear motivation as to why the nominee should be considered for the award. Nominators should also provide all their contact details in case more information is required. Please note that current members of the RuDASA committee are not eligible for nomination.
The award will be made during the Annual Rural Health Conference.
by Sulaiman Philip
23 October 2014, Media Club South Africa
It's a 140km round trip to the furthest of the five clinics in rural Eastern Cape's Amahlathi Municipality for Dr Jennifer Nash. This year's Rural Doctor of the Year uses the time to think, to relax, to chill. She sounds chipper as she talks: "It's my alone time. I have 20 minutes of radio reception, and then it's me and the beautiful scenery."
The roads that Nash travels may be an hour from East London but it may as well be another world. She is not tempted by the bright lights of that big city; instead, she is driven to help the impoverished population. "There are doctors who will tell you that you lose your skills working in a backwater or that the rural areas are where bad doctors go to practice. They could not be more wrong. My skills are sharper because I see so many different kinds of patients."
To illustrate her point, she tells of a missing drug order: a pharmacy order was placed; when it failed to arrive she called to track it. "They had no record of the order so we had to send it through again. But the hospital's fax machine wasn't working so I had to track down a fax in the middle of nowhere to place the order."
There are infrastructure challenges, she explains. There may be no water at the clinic, or bandages, but the dedicated people with whom she works make things happen. "My point is, challenges have made me a better doctor. Not expecting to have a working X-ray machine or gloves mean I have find ways to [make] do."
Her beat may not be in the deepest hinterlands of rural Eastern Cape, but she is one doctor keeping hope alive for thousands of patients. She draws inspiration, Nash says, from the indomitable spirit of her patients and the sense of community of her practice. "When I am out in the market I meet my pregnant mothers, their grannies and their sisters. I get to see the context in which I practice medicine. That is not something you get if you work in a city."