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
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