Dr Charles Benjamin Gaunt and Dr Taryn Gaunt
Chief medical officer, Zithulele Hospital and Principal medical officer, Zithulele Hospital
Their story reads like an extract from the Poisonwood Bible
� a young mission-driven family moves to rural Africa
and faces issues of life, death, poverty and disease.
The difference is that 34-year-old Charles and Taryn
Gaunt not only chose to move to the isolated Eastern Cape
to change the face of rural healthcare but are also deeply
committed to seeing their vision become a reality. It takes a
special kind of couple with an enormous amount of faith to
take on Zithulele Hospital � a 147-bed hospital providing
primary health care to 130 000 people. But take it on they did.
After fi ve years under their care, along with their
colleague, Dr Karl le Roux, they have succeeded in halving
perinatal mortalities and deliveries are up 62%. More than
1 500 patients are now on ARVs, thanks to the treatment
programme they launched. The paediatric ward boasts
eight times as many admissions as it did, a sign that the
community trusts them with the care of their children.
Starting with a team of three doctors, now increased
to nine, these two uCT graduates have helped Zithulele
Hospital become a source of pride in the Oliver Tambo
district, where more than 70% are unemployed and HIV/Aids
But this is only the start of their vision, which extends
beyond the hospital to include "a multidisciplinary set-up
with emphasis on education for locals� .
Leading this vision is the Jabulani Rural Health
Foundation they co-founded � a non-profi t organisation
that supports the hospital and surrounding community
through various community-based health, education and
agricultural programmes. It's hard to believe that with all
this on their plate Taryn still manages to home-school two
of their three children, and Ben received a distinction for his
MSc in primary healthcare from the university of London.
Lunch spot: Lavender Blue, East London, or a picnic on the beach at Lubanzi, Eastern Cape