After only six months as a registrar in paediatrics at Stellenbosch University's (SU) Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS), Dr Lunga Mfingwana (29), who hails from the Eastern Cape, was so inspired that he started planning an outreach action to the Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital in Mthatha.
“It was like paediatrics on steroids," he remembers his first months in the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health at the FMHS. “The expertise, the way things are done, the child mortality rate which is that much lower here than in the Eastern Cape – it all made a huge impression on me."
Mfingawna worked at the Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital for a while after he had studied medicine at the Walter Sisulu University in Mthatha, and afterwards completed his internship in East London and Port Alfred respectively.
With the approval and support of Prof Mariana Kruger, executive head of the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health at the FMHS, Mfingwana set the wheels for the outreach action in motion last year. Professors Rob Gie (pulmonology), Pierre Goussard (pulmonology) and Johan Smith (neonatology) offered valuable inputs and assistance.
Earlier this year, the outreach action became a reality. Mfingwana was accompanied to Mthatha by two paediatric consultants from the FMHS, Dr Julie Morrison (pulmonology) and Dr Gugu Kali (neonatology), who co-hosted a three-day workshop at the Walter Sisulu University.
According to Mfingwana the reaction was extremely positive and the enthusiastic consultants were confronted by dedicated doctors who yearn for information. “Registrars and doctors slept on chairs after having been on duty, waiting for afternoon lectures. The auditorium was filled to capacity every evening, even with interested parties from the private sector."
The outreach action links up with Mfingwana's dream to ensure that every child has the right to good health care.
He regards it as a high point to be part of a team who does not hesitate to share knowledge and expertise and wishes to ensure that the rest of the country remains abreast regarding the practice of medicine and medical research according to internationally prescribed methods.
“SU has opened the doors for the transfer of expertise to the rest of Africa. I am extremely proud of the decision by the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health to offer help to colleagues in other provinces."
Caption: Drs Gugu Kali, Lunga Mfingwana and Julie Morrison during the outreach action in Mthatha.