Rural doctors gather online to share knowledge

During a time of physical disconnection, video conferencing has created a virtual space for people to gather and share knowledge in ways previously not considered. In the spirit of strengthening rural health systems, Dr Jacques du Toit from the MRC/Wits-Agincourt Research Unit organised a webinar in collaboration with the Rural Doctors Association of Southern Africa (RuDASA) aimed at supporting hospitals in more isolated districts through drawing on and sharing the experiences of other rural doctors and having leading experts weighing in on the discussion.

The webinar, Managing Covid-19 in a Rural District Hospital, was held on 17 September and discussed the management of Covid-19 in a rural district hospital.  This involved a gripping talk from Dr Hans Hendriks, the Family Physician at Zithulele Hospital, covering Zithulele’s systems approach as well as a practical guide to the use of Bush CPAP – an incredible tool in a setting where CPAP machines and High Flow Nasal Cannula are unavailable. The message was empowering and one of hope in a setting with limited treatment and referral options.

We were also incredibly lucky to be joined by Dr Jeremy Nel (Infectious Disease Physician, Head of Infectious Diseases at Helen Joseph Hospital, and a member of the Covid-19 Ministerial Advisory Committee). Dr Nel facilitated a “Grand ward round” where a fascinating and challenging Covid-19 case study was presented by Dr John Joseph, a Walter Sisulu University Graduate undergoing his Community Service year at Zithulele (What a year to be a fresh young doctor!). Their insights into the case and the discussion led by Dr Nel afterwards were incredibly valuable and hopefully strengthened the practice of all who attended.

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