A rural development organisation that recruits and supports health-care workers has already seen results after attending Towards Carnegie III.

Now the Umthombo Youth Development Foundation, which operates in Northern KwaZulu-Natal, is about to go nation-wide thanks to a discussion between its director, Dr Gavin MacGregor and Aaron Daviet, who is Political Officer at the U.S. Consulate General in Cape Town.

“The [Towards Carnegie III] conference was not in vain. While others were still breaking down the ideas to tackle poverty on different levels, we are already planning to bring together our forces and continue doing what we are already doing to bring about immediate change”, said MacGregor.

The UYDF recruits and supports rural youth to become qualified health care professionals in order to address the critical shortage of health-care workers in rural hospitals. In the process, it hopes to improve the health care in rural communities.

After training, these young health-care professionals work at one of the 10 partnering hospitals in the Umkhanyakude, Zululand or Uthungulu districts in return for the opportunity they have had to study a health science qualification. But until now the initiative has been limited to Northern KwaZulu Natal due to financial constraints, says MacGregor.

In the past 12 years, the organisation has produced 116 health care professionals in 16 health science disciplines, including 37 doctors, according to a paper presented to the conference by MacGregor.
During the conference, MacGregor was able to explain to several people the impact UYDF has had in the rural northern KZN since 1999.

Among them was Aaron Daviet of the U.S. Consulate.

MacGregor and Daviet have now joined forces to enable the UYDF initiative in other provinces. Daviet had to leave the conference early, hence was not available to comment on this issue, but MacGregor said he was excited by the prospect.

“I’m glad that this conference resulted in bigger plans to look forward to the future. It did what it was meant to do in the first place – to bring ideas together to achieve one goal”.

By Emmanuel Vuma