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Bursaries provide hope for a brighter future

Written by Sphelele Ngubane

Four students from the outskirts of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) have jetted off to the University of Cape Town (UCT) to study medicine, after receiving funding from the provincial health department.Students from rural KZN are off to Cape Town to puruse their dreams of becoming doctors.

Thembelihle Tsengane (18), Sibahle Ntuli (18), Bongeka Sibiya (17) and Lwazi Mhlongo (17) were commended for attaining top matric marks, despite the challenges and disruptions caused by the Coronavirus pandemic.

While they had been accepted to study at UCT, they had no funds to do so. Concerned community leaders told the KZN Department of Health about the students’ plight and the department came to their rescue.

KZN Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu says the department usually has bursaries available, but did not have them this year due to financial strain caused by the pandemic.

When the department listened to the students’ stories, it felt it had to help them.

National Health Insurance

MEC Simelane-Zulu says the department is pleased to fund youth from rural communities, as the National Health Insurance (NHI) will create a need for more doctors.

The NHI will enable every South African to receive access to quality healthcare, whether they are poor or rich. 

After their studies, it is hoped the students return to KZN to serve their rural communities, where there is a shortage of doctors.

“One of the NHI’s strategies is to ensure that every clinic has a doctor, whether it is in a rural area or not. You can only do this by ensuring that you increase the number of doctors that you are producing. This is a contribution towards that,” says MEC Simelane-Zulu.

Ntuli says securing funding to attend university would have made his recently-buried 83-year-old grandmother happy. Just before she passed away, she gave him money from her small pension.

“Gogo said I must take the money and buy myself a suitcase as I was going to university. Even though I hadn’t received a bursary and didn’t know how my studies would be financed, she somehow knew that I would be going to UCT,” says Ntuli.

For more information about the department’s bursaries, which are usually awarded every year, call 033 395 2733 or visit www.kznhealth.gov.za/bursaries