Lebohang Ramudzuli Nemutudi
Lebohang Nemutudi (30) works to promote community health awareness and bring about collaboration between healthcare systems — a far cry from his career beginnings as an IT technician. Working in Tshiawelo, Soweto, Nemutudi helps to implement health education programmes in local schools in line with the Integrated School Health Programme (ISHP).
He is a member of People’s Health Movement-SA (PHM-SA) and was elected to be part of the national steering committee. He has participated in the South African People’s Health University (SAPHU) programme, which empowers community health workers with skills and serves as chairperson of the Johannesburg Region D Stakeholder Forum, which organises events such as school holiday programmes and dialogues, mentorship, and personal development workshops in collaboration with the City of Johannesburg, Maphelo Skills Development, Hlanganisa Mzansi, Gauteng Department of Education, SANCA Soweto, as well as community safety, nongovernmental and faith-based organisations.
Nemutudi, who grew up in Soweto, initially trained as an IT hardware technician, and even ran his own neighbourhood computer repair business for four years. However, his commitment to improving his community saw him becoming a health activist. “Around August 2015, ward-based outreach teams were created in my community.
I went to see what it was all about, to learn about the health systems, and I quickly became involved in local health outreach and promotion.” As a volunteer community health worker at the Tshiawelo Community Health Practice, Nemutudi gets paid a stipend. “But it’s not about being paid, it’s about the love of the work and a need to do more for my community. It fulfils my heart,” he says. One of the major health care challenges in his community is that people are slow to utilise the available health care facilities, he says.
“Many people wait too long to seek medical treatment, or have a mindset that when they are sick, they go to a traditional healer. We now work closely with local traditional healers, who now refer patients to the local clinics — especially those with TB, HIV/ Aids and other chronic diseases,” he says. He hopes to register to study health promotion and further his information science knowledge to bring together the best of the IT and health worlds and reach more people, bringing health care and communities closer together.
— Tracy Burrows