As the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health (KZN) grapples with the Oncology crisis, Dr Sithembile Ngidi will be offering free oncology honorary lectures to final year medical students at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) as part of giving back to her community.
Ngidi who is an Oncologist trained at UKZN is currently based at the Ahmed Kathrada Private Hospital in Johannesburg and plans to visit UKZN once a month to teach various oncology modules.
In 2015, at the age of 31, she qualified as KZN’s first Black female Oncologist and the country’s second. Ngidi is a Clinical and Radiation Oncologist.
She completed her studies through a bursary that she received from the KZN Department of Health.
She told Vuk’uzenzele that she is especially interested in helping the KZN province because she is who she is today because of contributions from the province.
“It was a natural choice for me to go back and serve at home, although I now live in Gauteng. I will be going back to do lectures once a month at the university. I wouldn’t be where I am today if other people did not teach me,” she said.
Ngidi was born and raised in Gamalakhe in Port Shepstone. She remembered her days at medical school when she looked up to her lecturers. “I was so inspired to see the Professors teaching us and I told myself that I would like to do the same one day,” she said.
When she found out through media reports that there is a need for lecturers in the department of oncology at the university she worried that the juniors had no one who could assist in developing their careers.
“This is my way of giving back. UKZN is my alma mater. And there are times when I just feel that I want to inspire and help others grow to find the paths the way I did. There is no glory in being on your own,” she said.
Ngidi said she comes from the African culture where parents preach and teach that ‘you raise others up with you’.
“God equips and gives you strength and gifts so that you can be somebody but you need to pull up others with you,” she said.
She encouraged a conversation between the specialists and the Department of Health and other organisations outside of government to try and find solutions to the healthcare problem.
She said training posts for specialists should be opened up.
Ngidi will pursue her love for research and publish through the UKZN. She also intends to register for a PhD through UKZN and become the institution’s first doctoral graduate in Radiation Oncology.
Due to the ongoing oncology crisis in KwaZulu-Natal, UKZN lost its accreditation to train registrars in oncology with a major hurdle being the shortage of state oncologists to provide training in Durban.
One of the students who will be attending Dr Ngidi’s lectures, Mondli Sibongakonke Khumalo, 22, said it means a lot to him that he will be lectured by a former student from his university.
“It is encouraging to know that UKZN can produce people of her calibre. I am looking forward to attending her classes. Oncology is top two of the disciplines that I would like to pursue, given that our province is in need of such specialists,” he said.
Khumalo is doing his final year in BSc Medicine and Surgery.