UKZN UPPS Shines a Spotlight on Female Paediatricians and Neonatology

The UKZN Update for Paediatrics and Paediatric Surgery (UPPS) 2022 held at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital shone a spotlight on two female paediatric specialists who are now training to be sub-specialists in Neonatology.

Drs Nomgcobo Mzizana and Zakithi Mathenjwa are among the few Black women paediatricians to sub-specialise in Neonatology that focuses on babies’ health in the first 28 days after birth. The Neonatology programme offered by UKZN’s Discipline of Paediatrics and Child Health is a two-year training programme that rotates between Inkosi Albert Luthuli, King Edward, Grey’s and Edendale hospitals. It is designed to equip pediatricians with the knowledge and skills to manage a wide range of neonatal diseases in both premature and term babies.

Prematurity and diseases in the neonatal period still contribute significantly to the death of children in KwaZulu Natal. Improving access to good quality care for these young babies is critical to improving survival and outcomes in children in South Africa.

Mzizana’s passion for paediatrics motivated her to relocate to KwaZulu-Natal from the Eastern Cape to join the registrar programme at UKZN.  ‘I am excited to have been chosen as one of the fellows training in this specialty. My advice to other women is to never give up on your dreams. Your dreams are valid and as women, we need to support one another to grow in our careers and be able to make a difference in our society.’

Mathenjwa is excited about being part of a team that is dedicated to ensuring the survival of neonates who in the past would have had poor health outcomes. She describes Neonatology as an exciting and growing sub-speciality.

‘I am grateful to God for the opportunity to learn and contribute to the goal of children surviving, thriving and transforming.’

Born in Mtubatuba, kwaShikishela in northern KwaZulu-Natal, she is currently pursuing her Master of Science degree in Child Health through the University of the Witwatersrand.

Words: Mandisa Shozi and Lihle Sosibo

Photographs: Lihle Sosibo