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 Mail & Guardian’s health editor and the director of the newspaper’s health journalism centre, Bhekisisa. She heads up a team of seven Johannesburg-based reporters and 10 correspondents in African countries other than South Africa. She loves drama, good wine and strong coffee, not necessarily in that order. Read more from Mia Malan


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