Dr Kalli Spencer

Urologist, Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital

Dr Kalli Spencer (32), a medical doctor specialising in urology, is on a mission to make men’s health a mainstream issue. Through ongoing advocacy, Spencer believes he can help curb the alarmingly high rate of deaths caused by prostate cancer. “We need more emphasis on men’s health and sexual health in South Africa,” he says. “Prostate cancer is the number one cancer that kills men or leaves them with devastating complications.

We have a large responsibility as health care practitioners to make a change, and I would like to be that change.” Born and raised in Johannesburg, Spencer completed his undergraduate studies at Wits University and trained at public sector hospitals such as Baragwanath and Helen Joseph Hospital. There, he became aware of the urgent need to empower and educate patients about women’s health, sexual health and men’s health.

He became a member of the Junior Doctor’s Association of South Africa (Judasa) and was later appointed Gauteng chairman. This position paved the way for him to become involved in community development and education initiatives. “When I was a member of Judasa, we were approached by the media in 2011 and asked what we were doing around teenage pregnancy month in 2011. I volunteered to go to a local school to speak to learners about teen pregnancy.”

This was the start of a long collaboration between Judasa, local nongovernmental organisations and Gauteng schools to take young doctors and nurses to schools to educate learners. “We found that while the teenagers had access to vast amounts of information on the internet, they often interpreted information incorrectly. The programme tries to help them get the facts straight,” he says. Spencer has since gone on to specialise in urology, and is now based at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital. He also serves as the chairperson of the Gauteng Branch of the South African Medical Association (Sama).

These roles have positioned him to further his work in educating, informing and trying to drive positive change in healthcare. He has facilitated drama workshops for high school learners in Alexandra township incorporating themes from his master’s thesis on Intimate Partner Violence. He has also hosted a Sexual Health Workshop (Sama, Bayer), and discussed health issues on radio and TV channels such as SAFM, JoburgFM, Khaya FM, MetroFM, ChaiFM, Heart FM, 5FM, Power FM, and the Big Debate. Spencer aims to continue his advocacy work and in future, open a men’s health clinic to serve the communities of Johannesburg.

— Tracy Burrows

Website: https://www.wits.ac.za/staff/ academic-a-z-listing/s/kallispencerwitsacza/