Dr Koot Kotze
Medical intern, writer and activist
The recipient of Stellenbosch University’s Chancellor’s Medal for 2015, Dr Koot Kotze is currently interning at the East London Hospital Complex (which encompasses Cecilia Makiwane Hospital and Frere Hospital).
Kotze (24) received his MBChB degree cum laude in 2015. He passed 29 of his 31 modules in this period with distinction, and achieved numerous academic and merit awards: academic colours from the Tygerberg Student Council; the Rector’s Award for outstanding academic achievement as well as SU’s merit bursary every year since 2010. In 2015, he was recognised as the best student in family medicine, primary care, community health and disabled care, forensic medicine, paediatric and child healthcare, the clinical skills domain and urology. He received the award for the best MBChB dissertation and was named the best undergraduate student at the faculty.
On top of putting in long academic hours, he was also active in the launch of the advocacy group TB Proof and is a member of the Safe Working Hours campaign, which seeks to better control the number of consecutive hours doctors must work, in the interest of patient safety. He also enjoys writing about these and other topics, and has academic and mainstream articles to his name.
These organisations, Kotze says, are in line with his leaning toward knowledge transfer and evidence-based advocacy. “In the long term, I hope to do more work in evidence-based activism — using evidence to effect change, and the gap between what we know and what we do,” he says. For example, he notes that TB is one of the most widespread infectious disease killers in South Africa, yet there are still gaps between best practice and diagnosis and treatment in the field. “This is why TB Proof advocates for greater awareness of and protection against occupational and community-based TB transmission, for shortcomings in prevention and treatment to be addressed, and also seeks to destigmatise TB.”
While enjoying his daily interaction with patients and learning to speak Xhosa to improve his communication with them, Kotze envisages becoming more involved in evidence-based practice in medicine, public health or global health; or becoming involved in medical education in future. “I’d like to have an impact upstream, so I’d like to become involved in training healthcare workers to take an evidence-based approach,” he says. – Tracy Burrows