Gauteng health department fails to pay medical interns

Bureaucratic bungle leaves new doctors fearing the worst about working in public hospitals.

Newly graduated doctors who just started their internships at Gauteng government hospitals have not been paid their January salaries as a result of a technical glitch, according to the health department.

Medical interns at hospitals in Gauteng could only expect to be paid in February, the Gauteng Department of Health announced this week.

In a statement released on Thursday, January 31, the Head of the Department Mkhululi Lukhele said, “There was a delay in the creation of the post due to the additional interns and community service that Gauteng Department of Health requested to accommodate.

“Despite the shortcomings as stated above, the Head of Department has arranged for additional supplementary payment runs to accommodate appointments that would be delayed.”

Medical interns took to social media this past week to share their grievances and to plead for assistance.

Wits graduate Rhadika Patel, who began her medical internship this year at Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital, said that the lack of communication surrounding the issue was frustrating.

“HR hasn’t told us anything. We had no idea until earlier this week that we were not going to get paid. They say the issue is that we haven’t been logged onto the system, but it has been a month now,” she said.

Patel and other interns have contacted the South African Medical Association (SAMA) and say that they have received feedback.

In a communique shared with the nearly 50 interns at Charlotte Maxeke, SAMA expressed concern and informed the interns that after speaking to the Director-General of Health they would be paid by Friday, February 1.

“SAMA further made contact with Provincial Heads of Department to ascertain as to whether payment will indeed be effected and received an affirmation in that regard that payment will be made timeously,” the statement read.

Patel told Wits Vuvuzela that it has been difficult for these interns to begin their lives after varsity because of this delay.

“Especially for those who have had to move towns. Making the jump from student to intern is very difficult, there are so many new expenses. As well, January is a very tough month because you just come out of the festive period. So it is really frustrating because a lot of people have to pay for rent and transport expenses,” Patel added.

FEATURED IMAGE: Medical graduates have had a financially challenging start to their internships. Photo: Tshego Mokgabudi


Wits VuvuzelaReproductive healthcare beyond the reach of many women, March 2013, 2018.

Wits Vuvuzela: HEALTH FOCUS: Help is on hand for pregnant Wits students, April 18, 2018

Flash mob calls students to dance

CONGA LINE: As part of a flash mob medical students form two separate conga lines dancing and holding balloons from the East campus library lawns to the Great Hall.          Photo: Dana Da Silva

CONGA LINE: As part of a flash mob medical students form two separate conga lines dancing and holding balloons from the East campus library lawns to the Great Hall. Photo: Dana Da Silva

Wits friends of MSF held a MP3 directed flash mob Wednesday afternoon dancing from East all the way to West campus.

Two conga lines, separated into men and women, danced their way towards the Great Hall Wednesday afternoon to the rhythms of Gloria Estefan holding red and black balloons.

It was like a scene from a music video … except there wasn’t any music.

Medical students held an MP3-directed flash mob at lunch time this afternoon named The Calling.

For this type of flash mob the MP3 with the music and directions was released to the flash mobbers the day before. Students then had to download it onto a music playing device and find some earphones through which to listen. On the mp3 were directions as to where the students needed to go, do and dance to.

The students then danced around campus to music only they could hear therough their earphones.

“We decided to do a flash mob because we heard about this event called the MP3 experiment that they did in San-Francisco. They have thousands of people doing a silent flash mob, like this one. So we were inspired by that and decided to do our own version,” said organiser Katherine Burgess.

Some of the music that they listened along the way was Psy’s Gangnam style, Tightrope by Walk the Moon and Michael Jackson’s Thriller.

This mp3 coordinated mob was put together by the Wits friends of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and was intended to raise awareness of the MSF branch on medical campus.

Students were also given a variety of props that they used throughout the event. Bubbles, plastic flowers and water guns were some of items given to them along the way.

That spectators could not hear the music made the event more interesting. “I felt like we were in our own portal, like no else knew what the hell you were listening to,” said Yoshin Barnabas, 3rd year Medicine.

Ferini Dayal, MBBCH student, said that this made it seem like a silent rave movie.

The medical students believed that this flash mob helped main campus students to see them in a different light. “It’s a good opportunity to show everyone else that medical students are capable of being a little bit more eccentric than people think we are,” said Barnabas.

“Everybody thought we were a bunch of weirdos,” said Saira Carim, MBBCH student. This flash mob may have seemed strange to those who were not participating, but overall students agreed that it had been an incredible experience.

No news is not good news

FLYING OFF THE SHELF: A Vuvuzela stand at Medical School stands empty.

FLYING OFF THE SHELF: A Vuvuzela stand at Medical School stands empty.

The Journalism Department at Wits has received complaints that there are not enough newspapers being delivered to the Medical and Education campuses.

Do Wits students actually read the Wits Vuvuzela? Does the University distribute too many copies of the newspaper on campus? Or are there too few?

“If you find something interesting, then you would want to read it.”

Sometimes you can find what you are looking for and sometimes you cannot. On parts of campus such as the Medical School and Education Campus, distributers of the newspaper have received complaints that there are not enough papers delivered there.

The amount of Wits Vuvuzela newspapers in news-stands at Wits has varied at distribution points on campus.

On East Campus, where the Vuvuzela is produced, many news-stands have a large amount of left-over newspapers by the time the newspapers have to be replaced.

On the other hand, Students and staff at the Wits Medical School have complained that there are not enough papers distributed there. “There are 12 of us on security here at the Medical School” said campus control security guard Thanduxo Nozibele, “we love reading the newspaper because it is free and we love the stories, but when we look for the latest issue, we can’t find even one”.

Zain Patel, a 4th year medical student, said “If you find something interesting, then you would want to read it. There should be 3 newsstands placed around our campus so that every Friday those who can’t find a paper at the one entrance can find one somewhere else”.

Opinions vary on the causes for both the leftovers and the backlog. Some students claim that they are far too busy to take a newspaper. “I don’t read the Vuvuzela” said 4th year medical student Dimo Sithole, “I don’t usually get involved in campus activity, I’m just here to study and I go straight home after lectures, I’m way too busy with work”.

Micaela Gradidge, a 3rd year BHSC student, suggested that she does not read the paper as “everything in the Vuvuzela is on main campus” and that she “only read the paper when there was a story about medical school”.

There are approximately 5000 students based at the medical school, yet there are only 300 newspapers scheduled to be delivered there.

Several students at  the Wits Medical School who spoke to the Wits Vuvuzela, claim that they enjoy reading the Vuvuzela and get upset when the newsstand is empty. Lerato Segodi, a 4th year medical student said “I love reading Vuvuzela when I see an interesting article, when I can’t find one then I usually get one from a friend on West Campus, and when I can’t find a copy that upsets me.”

The Vuvuzela distributers have aimed to correct this by scheduling more papers to be delivered to higher flow areas, such as the medical school and education campus, and less to areas where there is a low demand. The Vuvuzela has a current distribution of 10000 newspapers.

The Vuvuzela is distributed by the students of the Wits Journalism Programme every Friday at 12 o’clock.


Medical students face threat of HIV


DIFFICULT TEST: A Wits student gets tested on Wits Education Campus for HIV. Photo: Tracey Ruff

Dedicating their lives to the health and well-being of their patients comes at a great personal and health risk for students in the Faculty of Health Sciences.

With the prevalence of HIV in South Africa, exposure to HIV-positive patients is an everyday occurrence for students in the medical field.

Wits Vuvuzela recently spoke to a number of health sciences students who have had to go on antiretroviral medication (ARVs) after accidents – such as needle stick injuries – have occurred.

Suffering from side-effects

Krystle Moodley, a Wits dentistry graduate who is currently doing her community service year, has been on ARVs twice. Her first time was in fourth year when she got a needle stick injury.

“I was unscrewing the needle from the syringe and the cap fell off and I got pricked,” explained Moodley. She is currently on ARVs for a recent scare she had while cleaning a dry socket – a condition that develops after a patient’s tooth has been extracted.

The side-effects she is presently experiencing from the ARVs include nausea and vomiting. Moodley adds she has heard of people who stop taking the ARVs because of the side-effects, which can include fatigue, migraines, loss of appetite and diarrhoea.

“I [would] rather suffer a month than my whole life personally (sic),” says Moodley.

A sixth year MBBCh student, who has chosen to remain anonymous, went on ARVs in 2012. Describing her experience, the student said it was “terrible” and “horrible”.

[pullquote]“You think it’s just taking your ARVs, but it’s an emotional thing … It’s just really a heart-wrenching experience.”[/pullquote]

“You think it’s just taking your ARVs, but it’s an emotional thing … It’s just really a heart-wrenching experience. You feel like you’ll be stigmatised. It was literally the worst three weeks [taking ARVs] of my life”.

Stacey Fourie, 6th year MBBCh, has, like Moodley, been on ARVs twice. Both incidents occurred in the early hours of the morning while she was stitching trauma patients.

Fourie describes the second incident where she was stitching a man who had been stabbed all over with a broken bottle. She stitched him for three hours without a break and due to sheer exhaustion; she tried to re-cap a needle and pricked herself. The man was HIV positive.

While on the ARVs, Fourie experienced severe fatigue and struggled to study because of this.

Fourie said anybody would be “very hard-pressed to find an intern (a doctor-in-training) who hasn’t been on ARVs at some stage”.

Muhammed Makda, another sixth-year MBBCh student, describes his 28-day ARV experience as both depressing and emotional. Makda was accidentally pricked by a doctor performing a lumbar puncture on an HIV-positive patient.

Makda was on one of the “older ARV regiments” and, as a result, he suffered from severe fatigue and lethargy for the entire 28 days. He said his body felt quite weak and he experienced severe nausea which was worse in the mornings when he would occasionally experience vomiting.

He says that although “the risk of contracting HIV through this kind of exposure (needle-stick injuries etc.) is [statistically] minimal, one cannot truly rest at ease knowing that it is still possible and may just happen to you”.

A constant threat

Another sixth-year medical student, who hasn’t been on ARVs, said that as a medical doctor living in South Africa, there is a “very real danger that one morning you might wake up HIV free (sic), go to hospital and come back HIV positive”. He says he finds this “really scary” and with being tired, overworked and hungry, the ability to concentrate and work cautiously becomes difficult.

Makda said students who have had an HIV scare need to make the decision to go on ARVs “fast”, as the sooner one takes them, the less the chance of infection.

When asked if the threat of HIV has made them think twice about their choice of their profession, the students interviewed all echoed the same sentiments. They love what they do and as Moodley said, “I love seeing the smile on my patients’ faces, and that is reward enough”.

Health services at 4 teaching hospitals to be monitored

WITS University and the Gauteng Department of Health have signed an accord to tackle health delivery at four hospitals that form part of Wits’ teaching platform.

Wits vice chancellor, Adam Habib, Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi and Gauteng health member of the executive committee (MEC), Hope Papo, signed a developmental accord last

The four hospitals are the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital, Helen Joseph Academic Hospital, Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital and the Rahima Moosa Mother and Child Hospital. In the accord, Wits and Gauteng Health pledged to address obstacles to health delivery and “to ensure the availability and functionality of equipment and consumables” at these hospitals.

[pullquote align=”right”]”…the event was ‘a historical moment” for Wits, the Gauteng health department and the ministry.[/pullquote]

According to Prof Ahmed Wadee, the dean of Health Sciences, the clinicians in the faculty initiated the agreement. “The university is committed to and would like to ensure that
hospital supplies and equipment are made available for patient care and for teaching and training,” said Wadee.

Doctors from the university will be part of the task team that will monitor the implementation of drug supplies and equipment. Practising medical students will benefit from the improved teaching facilities and will experience a more conducive learning environment. Approximately one thousand medical students are doing their practicals at these hospitals, Wadee said.

According to a statement, the objective of the accord is for the department and the university to work together towards better healthcare and the training of healthcare professionals. In the statement Habib said Wits doctors contribute towards keeping the health system alive and “…the event was ‘a historical moment” for Wits, the Gauteng health department and the ministry.

He said it symbolised how “decisive and committed leadership teams can engage and resolve issues of concern to the benefit of all parties and South African citizens as a whole”.
Wits will not be donating any funds to address the needs of these hospitals. The national department of health would fund equipment and other supplies.

Wadee said there was an extensive list of equipment and supplies needed by the hospital.