Today is World Photography Day, so we thought we would share some of the photos that mean the most to us and the stories behind them:
The image on our home page was taken at a hospital in the Eastern Cape. While it is one of the most beautiful and unspoiled parts of South Africa, the lack of infrastructure and development has also resulted in it being the most deprived province in the country. The relationship between poverty and healthcare outcomes has been well established – the Eastern Cape has the highest infant and under-5 mortality rate, and the second highest maternal mortality in-facility ratio, for example. Alongside higher burdens of disease because of various social determinants, people in poverty also have less access to care, and global research continues to show that this is particularly acute for rural populations. This is the context in which we work: Where there are no health workers, there can be no healthcare delivery. Our work has brought nearly 4000 healthcare professionals to where they are needed most. Each of these people in this queue saw a doctor who would otherwise not have been there.
We love this photo because of the stories we hear from newly placed doctors at nearby hospitals. South Africa is a complicated, crazy place – for every rule and assumption you may make, something will come along and challenge your thinking. There are not many other places in the world where you’ll find cattle wandering the beach. The country’s beauty never fails to amaze our doctors.
Here Recruitment Officer Tracey Hudson and Coordinator Stacey Partridge flank three British doctors. The photo was taken earlier this year, just before Dr Tom Smith, in the purple, left Hlabisa Hospital in KwaZulu-Natal. In 2015, having only been here a few months, Tom appeared in our video discussing his experiences of working in the South African public health sector – by the time this was taken a year later, he had delivered an astounding 75 babies by Caesarean section. Drs Ryan Barter and Robert Holliman, in the green and burgundy, form part of the next cohort of UK doctors supporting this hospital. The relationships and friendships among colleagues often continue long after placements in South Africa have ended.
On a recent visit to Hlabisa Hospital our photographer snapped this shot of a bicycle outside a local tuckshop. Originally we liked it because of the composition and colours, and the real-life story it told of life in the community, and then we realised it is a Qhubeka bike. Qhubeka gives bicycles to people who need them, in return for work done to improve communities, the environment or academic results. Having a bicycle changes lives by increasing the distance people can travel and how fast they can get there. Most of Africa’s rural population have no access to transport and people have to walk long distances to access education, healthcare, shops and community services. Since 2005, Qhubeka has distributed more than 54 000 bikes to people in need – including healthcare workers who can then see more than twice the number of patients a day. We loved this photo even more when we realised it was a Qhubeka bike – it reminded us that there are many people and many organisations working alongside each other to improve the lives of our rural communities.
If you’d like to consider working in challenging, exciting, and life-changing conditions, contact us to discuss how we can help get you registered and ready to work in rural South Africa.