Rural doctors are a prescription for good health

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."

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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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CALL FOR NOMINATIONS: RURAL DOCTOR OF THE YEAR

The time has come to celebrate another unsung hero 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, Eastern Cape  

 

2016: Dr Victor Fredlund Lifetime Achievement in Rural Health

 

2017: Dr Lushiku Nkombua from Nkangala District, Mpumalanga

 

2018: Dr Mikhail Gurland from Tintswalo Hospital Mpumalanga

 

2018: Special Recognition Award for the doctors of North West for Courage in times of Adversity

  

The RuDASA Committee calls for nominations for the Pierre Jaques Award every year.  Any interested person may nominate a rural doctor working in Southern Africa for consideration of the Rural Doctor of the Year.  Nominations should be submitted to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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 closing date for nominations is 1 July.

 

The award winner will be announced at the Gala Dinner at the Annual Rural Health Conference 

 

 

 

 

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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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