Dr Rivka Hoosain’s heart sank every time she overheard medical staff tell patients: “You are sick but I’m sorry you are not sick enough. So you need to wait.”
According to the South African Medical Journal, 61% of medical practitioners in the public sector said the availability of medicine and supplies was inadequate and 48% in the public sector said nursing and other support staff were inadequate.
The lack of medicines, essential medical equipment and incompetent management led to Hoosain explored alternative options. For the past three years, she has been running a free healthcare service in Tafelsig, Cape Town, where she sees young and old patients and assists them with basic health care – be it an acute illness, advice regarding medication or general health check-ups.
An incident that occurred while pursuing her medical studies led to this milestone that sets her apart from her medical peers.
“I was doing my second year of university in Stellenbosch and had an exam the following day. My father, who suffers from bi-polar mood disorder, had become ill such that we could no longer help him at home. I had to take him to our local community health centre in Mitchells Plain at about 11 pm. Upon arrival, there were many patients waiting in the queue, whilst there was only one doctor on duty. So we were made to wait,” she recalled.
Hoosain graduated with her MBChB from Stellenbosch University in 2011 and has since completed her community service years.
During her medical studies, she visited India, where she was exposed to primary health care in a starkly different environment.
The Lead SA hero of October 2015 considers the clinic as her greatest career achievement because it ensures that she can make people in dire need the centre of her services, as opposed to personal wealth creation.
In developing countries like South Africa, there is one doctor for every 3 707 to 49 118 of our citizens.
Hence, the healers’ ultimate goal is to live in a world where health care is affordable, accessible and where the medical staff will not compromise on care because of a patient’s socio-economic status.