Memorial lecture to honour slain KZN doctor

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Durban - An annual memorial lecture was launched on Saturday to honour KwaZulu-Natal medical doctor, Senzosenkosi Mkhize, who was killed by a patient while on duty at an Mpumalanga hospital last year.

Mkhize, the father of a 9-year-old daughter, was stabbed to death by a patient while working in the out-patient department of Middelburg Hospital. A suspect was arrested the following day.

Speaking at the inaugural memorial lecture of the South African Medical Association and Dr Senzosenkosi Mkhize Memorial Lecture, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe said the memory of Mkhize was still as raw, and it would forever be an "unsightly blemish on our conscience as a nation".

"Nobody deserves to lose their life in such a callous and brutal manner, it is also a tragic irony how the medical community lost one of its own," he said.

Motlanthe described Mkhize as someone who was passionate about his chosen profession. "He was humble, kind, accessible and always ready to assist whenever duty called. He stood out in his dedication in that he knew what he wanted to do to contribute to the practice of medicine in South Africa."

He called on medical doctors to continue being committed and dedicated in serving communities.

"I would hope that as professionals, you all remain connected to the communities you serve. We live in challenging times, where the value of life has been sadly replaced by that of money ... and as government, we have to continue to find ways to address the needs of all our people and ultimately to create a humane society," he said.

Motlanthe said health professionals had a duty to deal with one of the most crucial aspects of human beings, the restoration of health and the preservation of human body. "As such, medical practitioners need to take a greater responsibility in community development," he said.

At the time of Mkhize's tragic death, doctors and other members of the medical fraternity raised concerns about security in hospitals and marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to, among other things, demand that police be deployed at all hospitals and that private security services be terminated.

Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi said government was currently working on addressing security issues in hospitals.

"We have been doing a lot of work, we have been spending a lot of money on security," he said, adding that the death of Mkhize came as a shock in the medical fraternity.

He said a number of other concerns had been identified and government was in a process of addressing them.

South African Medical Association (Sama) national chairperson Dr Mzukisi Grootboom called on communities to appreciate what doctors were doing for them.

"We need to appreciate their efforts and dedication. The contribution that doctors make towards building our nation through providing lifesaving healthcare services generally goes unnoticed and often unappreciated," he said.

The late Dr Mkhize qualified as a doctor in 2008 and worked as an intern at Prince Mshiyeni hospital in Umlazi, Durban, between 2009 and 2010. He started working at Middelburg Hospital in Mpumalanga last year.

Also present at the launch was KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Health Dr Sebongiseni Dhlomo and representatives from Junior Doctors Association of South Africa, among others. -

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