The problem: There is an immense shortage of committed healthcare professionals in rural communities.
The reality: Research has shown that health professionals are more likely to live and work at a rural hospital if they grew up in a rural area or if they were exposed to the realities of rural healthcare delivery throughout the course of their university training.
The need: A long-term solution to the challenge of recruiting and retaining quality healthcare professionals in South Africa's rural areas.
The solution: Umthombo Youth Development Foundation identifies, trains and supports youth in their quest to become qualified healthcare professionals and as a way of addressing staff shortages at rural hospitals. This includes comprehensive mentoring and financial support throughout the course of their studies, as well as assistance with integration into the hospital working environment once qualified.
The return on investment: Dedicated, qualified young healthcare professionals who are committed to work at one of the 14 hospitals in the Umkhanyakude, Zululand, Uthungulu or Sisonke districts in return for the opportunity they had to attain a health science qualification.
The result: 251 graduates covering 16 different science disciplines over the course of 15 years. This year 184 students, all of rural origin, are receiving support from UYDF.
The recognition: UYDF has received numerous accolades for their innovative work including: Health Innovator 2014; KZN MEC for Health Special Recognition Award 2014; Special Ministerial Award 2013; Mail & Guardian Investing in Life Award (2011) & 2012 BHP Billiton Achiever Awards.
The UYDF subscribes to The Independent Code of governance for non-profit organisations in South Africa