KZN Health MEC, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, has encouraged hundreds of young health professionals not to be afraid to leave their comfort zone, but rather be prepared to go out and help their fellow neighbours in some of the province’s most rural and poorest areas.

The MEC was speaking in Durban at a workshop on 5 February for the orientation and induction of 268 students who originate from universities around the country, and had begun their 12 months community service.

“I felt I should come and encourage the community service officers. It is important to motivate them, so that if some of them were feeling discouraged, they must be assured that we value their support. We also wanted to thank our government for making this decision to have a policy that says, ‘before you could go and complete your studies, please give us just 12 months of community service in your respective professions,” says MEC Dhlomo.

“Most of the services offered by these therapists are hardly ever in the rural areas. The mere fact of allowing young people to go into these areas decreases the need for people who have suffered the consequences of hypertension, diabetes and stroke, to have to come back to the urban areas where there’s a majority of these professionals. The value-add of them going there is enormous. It will have a huge impact in the quality of life of our citizens even the rural areas,” he added.

The MEC said that exposure to different cultures and languages for the community service officers will be beneficial and help make them more culturally aware and well-rounded citizens.
Dentist Frieda Maritz, from Tshwane, studied at the University of Pretoria. She was initially placed at Ekhombe Hospital, before being transferred to Hlengisizwe Clinic.

“I’m quite happy to be outside of Durban. Ekhombe was rural, but it’s been an experience. I’ve learnt a lot in terms of my work. I’m looking forward to learning to speak IsiZulu, and to getting to know the community better, and make a difference,” she said.

Nombongo Ntswayi, an audiologist from Cape Town, has