MEET THE DOCTOR; DR RK THOBEJANE, A GENERAL PRACTITIONER DEVOTED TO IMPROVING HEALTH CARE IN MARAPYANE VILLAGE

From Pankop to Lefiso the name Dr. RK Thobejane resonates with most people’s households, he is one of the most famous yet unknown medical practitioners around with an unquestionable high work ethic and of course skill to tackle major medical problems – he qualified in 1995, started practicing on the 1st of December the same year at a rural hospital called Groothoek Hospital near Zebediela in Limpopo Province, he worked there for a period of two (2) years. He came to Marapyane, Mpumalanga Province in 1997 where he has been practicing privately as well as working part time for the Mpumalanga Provincial Department of Health.

Majority of us who grew up visiting his practice in Marapyane – what we do not know is the story behind Dr. RK Thobejane, he has been a part of our families –  yet we have so many unanswered questions like where the good doctor hails from and how he got to our Village. In this insert we sit down with the family doctor to find out more about him, the medical profession at large and of course his views on the current state of our economy considering the impact and effects of covid-19 (corona virus), so sit back and enjoy.

He grew up in Soshanguve, a township situated approximately thirty (30) kilometers north of Pretoria, Gauteng Province, South Africa. He matriculated from Lethabong Secondary School, fortunately upon passing his matric (then called standard 10) he received a bursary sponsorship from the German Government which gave him the opportunity to study medicine at Sefako Makgatho Sciences University, previously it was known as Medical University of South Africa (MEDUNSA). “Essentially I chose to do my internship in a rural area in Zebediela” said the doctor when asked why he chose to work in villages.

He grew up in Soshanguve, a township situated approximately thirty (30) kilometers north of Pretoria, Gauteng Province, South Africa. He matriculated from Lethabong Secondary School, fortunately upon passing his matric (then called standard 10) he received a bursary sponsorship from the German Government which gave him the opportunity to study medicine at Sefako Makgatho Sciences University, previously it was known as Medical University of South Africa (MEDUNSA). “Essentially I chose to do my internship in a rural area in Zebediela” said the doctor when asked why he chose to work in villages.

He came to Marapyane in 1997 as a result of his working relationship with a colleague called Dr. Tladi who at the time had a practice around the village, due to his love for the profession he did not hesitate to join doctor Tladi’s medical practice, this is where he has been working privately for the past 23 years or so. Dr. Thobejane is a General Practitioner which basically means he sees all kinds of patients from pediatrics (children) to adults (both male and females including pregnancy). He specializes mainly in HIV, AIDS and Tuberculosis medicine, this can be attributed to his Postgraduate qualifications in latter fields, furthermore he also other qualifications such as the Master’s Degree in Medical Law & Ethics; Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) and other short courses/programmes which enables him to run his business effectively and efficiently.

Many people go into professions looking at potential employment opportunities, few go into medicine as a calling. Dr. Thobejane is one of the few of his generation that actually fell in love with the profession as a result of his silly and naughty mistakes, his passion was born as a result of his young self, inserting pieces of paper causing a minor ear infection in his ears which resulted in him being hospitalized for a period of one (1) month. Fortunately, the damage was not severe, because of the treatment he received from the doctors and the supporting staff (i.e. nurses), it was then that his passion for the field started. What most people do not know is that before enrolling for a medical degree he was also accepted to study engineering but naturally because of his passion he obviously chose medicine.

Like many businesses in rural areas around the country, lack of proper telecommunications infrastructure such as fiber networks which enables high speed internet connections, his biggest challenge by far in running his business is centered around the lack off or inability to produce medical certificates, prescriptions, submit and process claims etc. from medical aid schemes due to poor internet connectivity – this is really worrying considering that everything is being done remotely/online. Someone in the big cities can submit and have their claims processed timely from medical aid schemes because of good internet connectivity and telecommunications infrastructure availability. But despite all these challenges his biggest satisfaction is serving the people in those rural communities.

In terms of government support, Dr. Thobejane does not receive any financial or infrastructural support; normally as part of complying with set government regulations on private medical clinics/practices; health inspectors from the Department of Health routinely visits their premises to ensure compliance. As a medical professional they (himself and partners) are members of the Health Professional Council of South Africa (HPCSA) which is a statutory regulator established to provide for control over the education, training and registration for practicing health professionals registered under the Health Professions Act. He is also a member of the South African HIV Clinicians Society, the South African Medico-Legal Association (SAMLA) which deals primarily with medical law and ethics, these are institutions where they receive the most support.

South Africa is still after 26 years into democracy, the effects of apartheid are still felt almost in every part of the country, in every industry (health included) we are still a developing country in a highly developed and progressive world. When asked what he thinks still needs to be done in terms of improving public healthcare, the good doctor said the fundamental issue is lack of funding in the public healthcare system in a sense that most monies and investments pumped in the private healthcare are by far larger than that in the public sector, which ironically, is accessed by majority of the country’s population. So lack of funding in the public healthcare system is the biggest challenge of this country.

Throughout the world, medical professionals are working around the clock to try and fight the novel corona virus, they are the frontline, Dr. RK Thobejane & Partners including their staff are not immune or excluded in the mix. They are classified as essential services workers in terms of the South African Government Corona Virus regulations, the impact of this virus is also felt by this particular practice. The biggest challenge is ensuring that the patients, staff and doctors are safe and that all the necessary precautionary measures are in place as per the Covid-19 regulations.

The culture of initiation schools still forms an important role in fostering traditional practices in most villages, part of the role these schools play in male health is conducting circumcisions, but due to popular beliefs (e.g. religious), there are some people who still do not understand the medical benefits of male circumcision. The doctor said “there was a study which clearly proved scientifically and showed medically the benefits of circumcision” as one of the preventative measures used to reduce the transmission of HIV & AIDS. When asked what is the role of western medicine in initiation schools, the doctor said amongst other things; that the following is the most important roles health professionals provide to initiation schools 1. Ensure that health practitioner work in partnership with traditional leaders safeguarding and ensuring safe methods of carrying out this (circumcision) procedure, identify any possible issues resulting from that in a timely manner 2. Provision of all the materials and training to ensure that they conduct safe circumcisions etc.

Since initiations schools are prohibited under the Disaster Management Act and considering that in most cultures winter is an initiation school season – now when the doctor was asked on his opinion on the issue of whether the government was ready or has enough systems in place to handle the anticipated high volume of male patients coming into the healthcare system for circumcisions; Dr. Thobejane told us he has not checked the government preparedness in this matter. Because this is a new virus which has been declared a worldwide pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO), a lot of primary health services suffer as most resources are focused and redirected towards fighting the new virus which essentially means governments will in evidently put a halt on other non-emergency health services/operations (circumcisions included). He said his practice (surgery) in Marapyane has enough systems in place to cope with a big number of patients whom may require circumcision.

Lastly when asked on his views on readiness and take on the RSA’s National Health Insurance, the doctor said he is in support of it as it advocates for a universal healthcare for all. Prior to the covid-19 pandemic he estimated for the system to be in full gear by 2027.

Dr. RK Thobejane has been able to keep his private life just that private, he is definitely a force and a beacon of hope in the communities he serves. Furthermore, he has been able to create employment with the majority of his staff being the female youth. His surgery accepts majority of medical aids and caters for prepaid customers at affordable rates. We can only see great things coming from him and his team, wishing all of them strength and best of luck during this tough (covid-19) times.

3 thoughts on “MEET THE DOCTOR; DR RK THOBEJANE, A GENERAL PRACTITIONER DEVOTED TO IMPROVING HEALTH CARE IN MARAPYANE VILLAGE

  • May 29, 2022 at 2:29 pm
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    Yes thats true Dr thobejane is best and also the savice is good the prices are payable

    Reply
  • June 4, 2022 at 5:17 am
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    HY. CAN I ASK ABOUT THE ARRIVAL OF THE DENTIST?

    Reply
  • January 2, 2023 at 11:53 am
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    Hi
    Do you also scan patient.
    I have a brother who is having a problem with apendix.

    Reply

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