- Dr Unati Nolubabalo Nqebelele is the first black woman with a doctorate in nephrology
- The 40-year-old doctor was born and raised in the informal settlement of Ikhwezi, Eastern Cape
- Professor Emeritus Saraladevi Naicker was an important mentor to her and she hopes to mentor young women as well
The young girl told her mother she one day hoped to study medicine at the University of Cape Town (UCT).
Hailing from the humble township of Ikhwezi in the Eastern Cape, it seemed a far-fetched dream.
Fast-forward to 2001 and the dream was achieved as Dr Unati Nolubabalo Nqebelele officially embarked on her medical career following her graduation at UCT.
Not only did she fulfil her initial goal but she has since become the first black woman to earn a PhD in nephrology.
The Sowetan reported on some of the challenges she faced in her career.
She revealed, "Finding a voice as a young female in a space that is dominated by males was one of the hardest things. It was even harder to navigate the space as a black woman."
Nqebelele credits much of her success to her learned parents as her father was a lawyer and mother was a nurse.
Another important mentor was Professor Emeritus Saraladevi Naicker who provided her with hands-on guidance.
Briefly.co.za gathered that Naicker’s influence is also part of the driving force behind her passion for mentoring young girls in the medical profession.
Nqebelele also believes that healthcare access to all is essential as it is a basic human right.
Indicating her frustration with the current status quo, she said, “When an institution does not provide equal health care to everyone and does not relentlessly work and make changes‚ it is committing structural violence against its clients.”
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