A doctor from the DRC explains the allure of working in a rural hospital.
“People often neglect remote areas. People in rural areas have a right to healthcare, just like anyone else in South Africa,” says Dr Albert Ngeleke Lufuluabo, who is working at Botlokwa Hospital in Capricorn, Limpopo.
Lufuluabo, originally from the DRC, has been working at the facility since July 2015 after he was assisted by AHP in the placement process. He is passionate about making a difference in the community he serves.
“I came to serve the country and told AHP that they could place me anywhere. There is a challenge in remote areas, there aren’t enough doctors. If people are reluctant to work in rural areas, there would be nobody to look after people. In the big hospitals people have better access to healthcare. People in remote areas are forgotten. I’m advocating for working in a remote area.”
Capricorn District is located in Limpopo in northern South Africa. More than 1.2 million people live in the district and it is close to the borders of Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
Lufuluabo says doctors can improve their clinical skills by working in a rural hospital. The generalist nature of the medical services required in rural hospitals provides doctors with excellent exposure to the full range of primary medical disciplines, including obstetrics and gynaecology, surgery, and internal medicine. In addition, they gain invaluable experience in the treatment of patients in advanced stages of diseases such as HIV/Aids, and exposure to emergency situations, including violent trauma and birth complications, which often are not prevalent in their home countries.
“In a rural area, you are a generalist. You work in several areas, including casualty and gynaecology. You get good experience from working in a rural area. If you want to be a generalist, you need to be at a level 1 facility in a remote area as you acquire skills in every area.”
Masape Dorcus Kganakga, Botlokwa’s matron, says she loves working at the hospital. She has been working at the facility for 24 years. “It is more relaxed, not noisy like the big city. It is also not that rural as we are near Polokwane.”
Like Lufuluabo, she is driven by the privilege of bringing healthcare services to rural communities. “You don’t get experience if you work somewhere where there are lots of doctors and nurses. I work with mothers and babies and the most important thing is to save them. The lives I’ve contributed to saving makes me proud. In a district hospital, you use your own skills, and you don’t depend on someone else. You also get the opportunity to focus on each patient. If patients don’t come we can find them because the villages are not far from the hospital.”
Thapi Mokose, AHP’s Recruitment Officer for Capricorn, says working at a rural facility such as Botlokwa has many benefits. “Facilities such as Botlokwa Hospital make working in rural public health facilities attractive. The hospital has dedicated staff and effective leadership and brings quality healthcare to people in the rural community it serves.”
Botlokwa Hospital is approximately 40 minutes from the capital city of the province, Polokwane, meaning Place of Safety. Polokwane was one of the host cities during the Fifa 2010 World Cup. The city has good schools and many shopping centres. For nature lovers, there are several game reserves in the area, including the world-renowned Kruger National Park, one of Africa’s largest game reserves.
Doctors can also visit the Modjadji Cycad Reserve outside Tzaneen. The reserve is named after the Modjadji or Rain Queen, the female leader of the Balobedu tribe, who is believed to have mystical powers to be able to control rainfall.
The province is also home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Mapungubwe. The Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape is situated on the southern banks of the Limpopo River and forms part of both the Vhembe/Dongola National Park as well as the Limpopo Transfrontier Park. Archaeologists believe that the iron ages sites of Mapungubwe were once the capitals of mighty African kings. According to the Limpopo Tourism Agency, “the significance of Mapungubwe and related sites was first realized in the 1930’s when graves with gold, iron artefacts, pottery and glass beads were found on top of the Mapungubwe Hill”.
Read more about Limpopo’s many tourist attractions here.