Doctor of the Year 2019 Andrew Miller


I first met Andrew when he was an intern, exploring rural hospitals for a place to make a difference. Emboldened by his OT wife, Katie, and the friendship of two other couples of similar mettle, his search was not for a well-functioning place, but a hospital and community which really needed a doctor. The trio of friends settled on Madwaleni Hospital, our neighbour. At the time, there was only one doctor, a Dutch TB specialist, bravely holding her own, but barely managing. Madwaleni was at its lowest ebb for a long time. Today things are vastly different. A vibrant team of doctors, including a Family Physician, registrars and allied health professionals, provide excellent quality care. How did this happen?

Of course, many people have played a part in the renaissance, but Andrew’s role has been critical. I’d like to highlight four things I think deem him worthy of the Rural Doctor of the Year award.

First, his longevity. The award is not recognition of long service, but the ability to endure the tough, lean, pioneering years is a critical success factor that requires courage and resilience. It’s a marker that he’s in it for something other than his own salary or gratification. He truly wants to improve health care in the community he serves.

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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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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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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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