- Dr Vhutshilo Netshituni made history by becoming the first black medical practitioner to qualify in the field in 2016
- Ngoakoana Mahlachana and Innocentia Madzhie qualified as paediatric oncologists in 2017
- The national health department plans to improve paediatric oncology units by making them more efficient
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The South African national health department has three new weapons in its arsenal against childhood cancer.
Dr Vhutshilo Netshituni, Ngoakoana Mahlachana and Innocentia Madzhie have all qualified in the field of paediatric oncology. The trio are the first black South Africans to have graduated in this chosen field of medicine.
Dr Netshituni has the honour of being the first black South African paediatric oncologist after graduating from Stellenbosch University in 2016.
Briefly.co.za gathered that Mahlachana can’t wait to start working in her chosen field after graduating in 2017. Mahlachana was drawn to paediatric oncology while she worked at Steve Biko Academic Hospital.
During her time at the facility, Mahlachana worked on different shifts and rotations within different wards. Mahlachana said she always loved working with children.
Mahlachana says paediatric oncology is a unique and oftentimes heart-breaking field. "Not a lot of people want to do it because it is very emotional. You treat patients for three, five or 10 years and some of them die," she said
Mahlachana hopes to educate the wider public about cancer and how to spot the early stages of the disease. She says early diagnoses often leads to successful treatment.
"Raising awareness among our communities is very important to me. Most children need stem cell and bone marrow transplants, but black people hardly feature on the transplant database," she said.
Because relatively few people enter this particular field of medicine, the national health department plans to improve the efficiency of its existing paediatric oncology units rather than trying to build more.
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