Dr Tinashe Chandauka
Medical intern, aspiring academic surgeon
27-year-old Dr Tinashe Chandauka is a man on an ambitious mission — to positively impact surgery and its outcomes across South Africa. Currently a second-year medical intern at Frere Hospital in East London, Dr Chandauka has been awarded a Rhodes scholarship, and will travel to the UK later this year to begin his DPhil in surgical studies at Oxford University. He aims to gather and analyse vast amounts of data on surgical procedures in South Africa, Kenya and possibly Rwanda, to bring about improvements in surgery and its outcomes in developing countries.
Born in Zimbabwe and raised in South Africa, Dr Chandauka is the first member of his family to become a medical doctor. His mother is a publishing director in South Africa and his father is involved in higher education in Zimbabwe. Having initially set out to study architecture, he quickly realised that his passion lay in healthcare and its potential to improve the lives of many people. He completed his degree at the University of Cape Town, where he was a co-founder of the International Association of Student Surgical Societies. He loves sport in his free time, participating in the South African Ironman 70.3, marathons and numerous half-marathons.
However, his primary focus now is fast-tracking his PhD, becoming a leading academic surgeon, and contributing to improved outcomes for patients undergoing surgery.
“What drives me is the story of Africa,” he says. “I would like to contribute to overcoming the healthcare challenges Africa faces. If you consider that the World Health Organisation has acknowledged that 10 – 30% of the emergencies that could lead to death require surgery, this is a field with a huge impact on healthcare and communities as a whole. However, there are challenges facing healthcare professionals in South Africa, particularly those working in under-resourced and rural areas.”
Dr Chandauka aims to study hundreds of surgical procedures over the next few years to gather data on what contributes to errors, the factors impacting patient outcomes, and the costs to patients, hospitals and communities of adverse outcomes. With gaps in the understanding of the cost of surgery, particularly in South Africa, he believes there are opportunities for young local doctors to develop the necessary databases and infrastructure to improve surgical care, and even contribute to stopping the healthcare brain drain. “I’d like to make a tangible difference to the way in which people receive healthcare, as well as their feelings about South Africa.” — Tracy Burrows