Public Sector Doctor
“When the mother of a sick child looks at you and says ‘Thank you’… that’s what makes me sleep at night.”
Dr Lunga Mfingwana is a young doctor in his late 20s working in the public service. He is driven by “the urge to help and make a difference” and this has led to his involvement in establishing two branches of the Junior Doctors Association of South Africa (Judasa), which is a South African Medical Association interest group – one in the Eastern Cape, of which he was provincial chair in 21012/2013, and one in KwaZulu-Natal.
Mfingwana recently moved from the Eastern Cape, but he is still supporting the new Judasa executive there, and reports that attendance at meetings has risen from the low 30s to a hundred and more.
While in the Eastern Cape, Mfingwana worked with the Rural Doctors Association to engage the health department locally on the burning issues of circumcision deaths.
He is keen on helping public sector doctors to develop skills in communicating with the department of health and ventilating issues such as a lack of necessary on-the-job training and poor accommodation for community service doctors. He sees this gap in skills as a contributing factor to the frustration felt by those working in the public sector, and subsequent poor results for patients.
“If you invest in giving doctors the skills, knowledge and support they need on the ground, you will end up with better results than investing in expensive equipment,” he says.
A DHL Tomorrow’s Leader winner in 2012 and 2013, Mfingwana’s interest and experience in leadership and management styles has led to his involvement in a non-profit called South African Leaders Inc, which identifies young leaders and attaches them to successful leaders in South Africa for mentoring.
Working in the public sector has steered him in a direction he never expected to go. “I hated oncology in medical school,” he says, but having seen the real-life impact of treating child patients, his aim now is to be a paediatric oncologist before the age of 35. — Mandi Smallhorne