Little stuff that counts

In 2007, four of Zithulele Hospital’s senior doctors established the ­Jabulani Rural Health Foundation. It works alongside the hospital “to fill in the gaps”, said hospital manager and foundation co-founder Dr Ben Gaunt. “Jabulani steps in with small things that make a big difference.”

Last year the hospital ran out of paper, making it impossible for health workers to write notes or prescriptions. “We could buy paper with Jabulani funds. It was not a huge cost in terms of the overall hospital budget, but something that made our jobs considerably easier.”

Jabulani also pays for translators in the outpatients department “to allow nurses to be nurses instead of having to translate what patients say to doctors the entire day”, and it funds two additional HIV counsellors and a secretary for Gaunt. “An assistant is not such a big cost, but it makes the world of difference in how much time I can spend on clinical matters.”

The hospital has close ties with other non-governmental organisations: the Donald Woods Foundation helps to run the HIV programme. Another organisation, Philani, assists in educating pregnant women and young mothers about the importance of giving birth at the hospital, immunising their children and birth control.

One of its co-ordinators, Ncedisa Paul, said doctors “value us and don’t look down on us. If I want to present a case, they give me that time and they listen to me. They admit someone immediately, if they have to. Together we’ve saved many lives.”

 
Mia Malan

Mia Malan

Mia Malan is the health editor and heads up the health journalism centre, Bhekisisa.The centre runs critical thinking forums on health issues and health journalism trainings. Mia started reporting on health when she landed her first job at the SABC’s Eastern Cape office in 1995.Nothing seemed to work in the province, so  broken down hospitals were big stories. She then moved on to work for radio and television current affairs programmes in Johannesburg and moved to Kenya for four years in the early 2000s to head up the media development organisation, Internews Network’s Kenya health journalism training programme.After a stint in the US as Internews’s chief health journalism trainer she returned to South Africa as a John S Knight Journalism fellow and also taught journalism at Rhodes University. She loves drama, good wine and strong coffee - preferably in that order.    Read more from Mia Malan

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