AWARD-WINNING medic, Ndiviwe Mphothulo, is one of few experienced medical doctors dedicated to serving rural communities in the North West province.
Dr Mphothulo hails from Soweto in Johannesburg but has not allowed the lure of lights and better facilities in Gauteng to take him out of rural Taung.
He has made a name for himself in the TB treatment breakthrough at Taung District Hospital and recently penned a book: “TB cases from Taung, A Perspective from Rural Hospital.”
Mphothulo, 41, said the book seeks to immortalise the experiences he has gone through at the hospital for they marked a defining moment in his career.
“This book was inspired by the success we had in Taung District Hospital where we treated difficult TB cases with little resources. The book consists of 20 TB cases we managed at the hospital. I remain in rural areas because devastating situation and shortage of doctors in Taung.
“I was inspired to contribute and put my ambitions on hold for the good of the community. I believe in equal access to health care irrespective of class or locality. We stand on the shoulders of giants and we should also leave a legacy and strive for a just society in all spheres of life,” he said.
The experienced physician has also spent time in Mount Ally and Qunu in the Eastern Cape.
“I was inspired to become a doctor after many visits to Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital. I visited my hospitalised relatives and unfortunately some of them died. I chose to study medicine in quest of saving lives.
“I was also influenced by activist medical doctors like Dr Nthato Motlana, Abu Baker Asvat, Neil Agget and Dr Fabian Defu Riberio. I am also a last born of activist parents. I was also involved in politics since the age of 13. I joined Masupatsela in Jabavu branch in 1989, ANCYL in 1990, and COSAS in 1990 and held different leadership roles in all these organisations,” Mphothulo said.
He started school at Welizibuko Primary School in Pimville (Soweto) and eventually obtained his matric certificate at Morris Isaacson High School.
Mphothulo enrolled for a BSc Degree at Medunsa in 1996 and was accepted for the second year of medicine (MB CHB) the following year due to exceptional results.
“My career in medicine commenced with an internship at Groote Schuur Hospital (Cape Town) back in 2002. It was followed by community service at Taung District Hospital in 2003. At the end of my community service work in Taung, I decided to relegate my goal of becoming a physician and did not go back to Soweto.
“I hold MBCHB (Medunsa), Master of Public Health (Medunsa), Diploma in HIV Management (Colleges of Medicine of SA), a Masters of Business Leadership (MBL) from Unisa and currently a PHD student at University of Cape Town’s School of Public Health and Family Medicine,” he said.
Mphothulo said his late mother, who was a political activist, played an influential role in his success.
“My mother instilled a sense of patriotism and fighting spirit in me. She was part of many non-government organisations and also held political leaderships in the 80s. I guess that is where I got my political activism,” he said.
His decision to serve Taung has not gone unnoticed as awards have been coming his way.
“My contribution in Taung has resulted in me being awarded many accolades. I was bestowed with MEC’s Service Excellence award in 2013 for best performing doctor in North West Province. I also received an award from the South African Medical Association –Trade Union (SAMA-TU) for excellent community service to the people of Taung (Medical Community builder 2014),” he said.
Mphothulo was awarded for being South Africa’s 2015 Rural Doctor of the year (By Rural Doctors Association of Southern Africa (Rudasa).
He is currently a Board member of the Southern African HIV Clinicians Society, Representative of North West Province in the National Executive Committee of Rudasa, Conference Chairperson of the 2017 Rural Health Conference and a member of the North West ANC Provincial subcommittee in Political Education and Training.
“I would love to work for an NGO dealing with TB research and be a lecturer in five years. Having a supportive and loving wife who helps me go through the grilling schedule is wonderful. I am humbled by her presence and I will remain a family man.
“My message to the youth of Taung and South Africa at large is that each generation must discover its mission, fulfil it or betray it,” he said.