Over 500 health workers have tested positive for the novel Coronavirus (CoVID – 19) in South Africa. This is the most defining time for South Africa and the medical profession. It presents the industry with the opportunity to display its critical role in preserving human life. The pandemic has put unprecedented pressure on our healthcare professionals. During Youth Month, Brand South Africa takes some time to shine the light on a young doctor who has been in the front line of the fight against CoVID -19 in South Africa.
Dr. Matamela Mafune “Dr Mela” (28) born in Limpopo, is a medical doctor currently working at the Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital while she pursues her second year of internship training. She is also a mentor and founder of a non-profit organization known as -The Purple Sisterhood. “Through this programme I hope to help young ladies find their voice and become characters of their own story”, she says. To name one of her accolades; she was named one of News24’s 100 young Mandela’s on the future in 2019. She feels very privileged to be able to serve her country through the health sector during this life-threatening time.
“Level 3 has increased the hospitals’ patient load by a 10 fold. Since the alcohol ban was lifted, theatres are swamped with gunshot wounds and accident victims. Healthcare workers feel like they are drowning and exhausted most of the time.
“Most patients and the general public are walking around with their masks off or under their chins like an accessory and this makes me so angry because wearing the mask is critical to flattening the curve. I currently work 12-hour shifts and spend half of the day changing Personal Protective Equipment and interacting with suspected and confirmed cases, which affects us emotionally as healthcare professionals. All my days are the same: eat, work and sleep…even through fatigue and illness. We no longer have time to check up on family and friends, let alone answer calls and texts from loved ones. This has to be the toughest time to work at a hospital like mine but it’s also exciting and fulfilling to be part of an army that is fighting this enemy” says Dr Mela.
When asked what the future holds for her in the healthcare industry, she expresses with enthusiasm that next year she hopes to work in one of the rural hospitals in Limpopo, so she can serve her community. She would like to use the experience to educate herself and get a better understanding of what “health services” really look like in areas that are underdeveloped and in need human resources as well as technological advancements. Dr. Mela aims to further her studies and be part of the change that contributes to growing healthcare systems that work She has a lot of hope for where the country is going and wants to be one of the game changers in the public health sector of the future.
“My plea to the general public is, please think about us, drink your alcohol at home, don’t have gatherings, don’t get into fights, don’t drink and drive…and most importantly wear your MASKS! Protect yourselves! To all those people out there who think ‘I’m fine, I’m in my twenties, I’m just quickly going to see my friend…’: Just remember that that one transmission, exponentially down the line, may cause 10 – 30 deaths” she expressed.