Discovery Foundation honours outstanding doctors in the public sector with 2023 grants

  • The Discovery Foundation has awarded over R15 million in research and training grants to some of South Africa’s top doctors, researchers and future healthcare leaders in 2023.
  • The Discovery Foundation has invested over R307 million since inception in 2006, providing 545 training and research grants for specialists and institutions supporting SA’s public healthcare system.
  • The Foundation aims to provide training and support for up to 600 predominantly black medical specialists by 202

20 October 2023, Johannesburg – At an awards ceremony this week, the Discovery Foundation announced the recipients of its medical research and training grants for 2022 and 2023. They are 40 of South Africa’s top medical specialists, researchers, training institutions and future healthcare leaders. Recipients work in four key areas that are critical to supporting and building the healthcare sector, including Academic Medicine, clinical sub-specialisation, rural medicine, and training and capacity-building for human resources.

Established as an independent trust in 2006, the Foundation plays a key role in addressing the shortage of human resources in South Africa’s public healthcare sector through its grants. The long-term vision of the Foundation is to support the sustainability of human resource development by investing in healthcare leaders in both Academic Medicine and rural healthcare. In addition, a focus on funding much-needed sub-specialisation training posts mean that the Foundation has to date funded up to 10% of training posts in South Africa, and currently awards more than 75% of its annual grants to black recipients as part of its transformation-led strategy.

Chairperson of the Discovery Foundation, Dr Vincent Maphai, said, “The Foundation’s work remains firmly focused on developing diverse representation among the country’s medical specialists and responding to critical needs in terms of human resources in the sector. More than half (53%) of Discovery Foundation Award recipients are women and the top fields they represent are paediatrics, family medicine, psychiatry, general medicine, obstetrics, and gynaecology. The field of surgery, however, is under-represented and this is a key strategy for the Foundation to contribute to the training of more women surgeons in our country.”

Research conducted by the Foundation in 2019 showed that there were only seven specialists for every 100 000 people in the public healthcare sector. Statistically, the number of specialists is expected to more than double by 2040. Even with this increase, demand for specialist medical healthcare services in the public healthcare sector will continue to far outstrip available resources.

This year’s awards include a total of 27 grants that will help advance work in the country’s rural healthcare sector. The recipients in rural medicine support various rural and district hospitals such as Zithulele Hospital in the Eastern Cape, Tintswalo Hospital in Mpumalanga, and similar facilities in Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal.

Dr Maphai added, “The Discovery Foundation Award recipients are expected to serve the public sector for at least two years after completing their training. It is worth noting though, that over 60% of the Foundation Alumni continue working in the public sector even after their contractual requirement has lapsed. This demonstrates the commitment and passion of our country’s healthcare professionals to improve healthcare in South Africa.”

The impact of funding and partnership is evident from the recent recognition of Professor Salome Maswime, an alumna of the Foundation, who is today an Associate Professor and the Head of Global Surgery at the University of Cape Town. In 2018, Professor Maswime received the Discovery Foundation MGH Fellowship Award to further her research in Global Surgery in Africa. The Discovery Foundation MGH Fellowship Award is valued at R2.3 million over a one-year period and gives recipients an opportunity for a medical residency at Massachusetts General Hospital for face-to-face supervision and to gain exposure to the hospital’s research environment.

In July 2023, she received the National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF) and South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) Clinician-Physician Award. Professor Maswime’s drive for equity and access to healthcare, including finding measures to reduce maternal mortality related to caesarean sections in South Africa, has singled her out as one of the best in her field.

The Discovery Foundation is proud to have invested more than R300 million in supporting medical research, as well as developing and training more than 500 medical specialists in the public healthcare sector to date.

“Recipients of the Discovery Foundation Awards represent some of the future leaders in our healthcare sector. With their focus on Academic Medicine and specialist training, as well as supporting rural healthcare, this investment will benefit South Africa for many years to come. As always, we are inspired by the many stories of dedication and commitment to look after our country’s citizens.”

“Looking forward, the Foundation aims to train and support 600 medical specialists and institutions by 2026,” concludes Dr Maphai.

The 2022/2023 Discovery Foundation Award categories and recipients

The awards are given in four main categories:

  • Academic Fellowship Awards that promote research-focused training in academic medicine to develop more clinician scientists in South Africa
  • Sub-specialist Awards that promote training, research and development in health faculties in South Africa
  • Individuals awards for healthcare for rural and underserved areas
  • Institutional awards for healthcare in rural and underserved areas

The seven academic fellowship awards were given to:

  1. Dr Kgomotso Minah Mathabe (2022) – the Discovery Foundation grant enabled her to pursue her PhD. Her research topic is ‘Associating prostate cancer progression with perineural invasion and neurogenesis.’
  2. Dr Phakamani Mthethwa (2022) – his research has garnered international interest into why children in rural KZN are succumbing to a rare drug-resistant bone cancer.
  3. Dr Stuart More (2022) – who strives to make the greatest impact in the management of diseases using his molecular imaging tool.
  4. Dr Bawinile Hadebe (2023) – nuclear medicine is an exciting and ever-evolving field, and she believes the future of cancer treatment is through nuclear medicine.
  5. Dr Roland van Rensburg (2023) – to explore the complex interaction between Metformin, an anti-diabetic medication and Dolutegravir, one of South Africa’s first line ARVs.
  6. Dr Andile Lindokuhle Sibiya (2023) – it’s estimated that 70% to 80% of hearing loss in children is either preventable or treatable. Through her PhD research, she investigates achieving early diagnosis and identifying where referral pathways and systems are failing patients.
  7. Dr Xolani Mbongozi (2023) – who is on a quest to reduce the high death rate from preeclampsia in pregnant mothers and babies in rural Eastern Cape.

The six sub-specialist awards were given to:

  1. Dr Haleema Addae (2022) – for research into the often-ignored side effects of cervical cancer treatment.
  2. Dr Kitso-Lesedi Mrubata (2022) – who believes our most vulnerable deserve world-class treatment and is looking beyond the lack of resources affecting pulmonology paediatrics wards.
  3. Dr Raeesa Mahomed (2023) – with less than 60 paediatric cardiologists serving the South African population, this doctor is lifting the veil on the challenges in becoming a paediatric cardiologist.
  4. Dr Thuthuka Ntuthuko Cosmos Ntanzi (2023) – fulfilling a lifelong dream of sub-specialising as a general surgeon, Dr Ntanzi is currently doing his fellowship training at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital in gastroenterology and surgical gastroenterology.
  5. Dr Wendy Maimela (2023) is the first person to be awarded the Discovery Foundation grant for cardiology at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital.
  6. Dr Slindokuhle Sibiya (2023) transforms lives through surgery while pursuing her fellowship and PhD in perianal warts.

The individual awards in healthcare for rural and underserved areas were given to:

  1. Dr Christofel Hendrik Bell (2022) – who believes caring for underprivileged children with life limiting conditions is his calling.
  2. Dr Jayakrishnan Radhakrishnan (2022) – the high prevalence of interpersonal violence in South Africa has led to his research on exploring the management of chest trauma from patients in rural Eastern Cape.
  3. Dr Ketsia Matee (2022) is steadfast in her mission to save children suffering from liver disease.
  4. Dr Mampho Junia Mochaoa (2022) – her community oriented primary healthcare model aims to eradicate severe acute malnutrition in the sub-district of Okhahlamba in rural KZN.
  5. Dr Ezile Ninise (2022) – has vowed to continue finding solutions for the growing burdens faced by the ICU in rural areas.
  6. Dr Sisanda Siqithi (2022) explores the association of antiretroviral drugs on neonates in the Eastern Cape.
  7. Dr Wendy Mene (2022) is searching for an effective way to address a significant side effect of TB treatment on the liver through early detection and better interventions.
  8. Dr Nabeela Adam (2023) is a role-model and shining light in the male-dominated profession of orthopaedic surgeons.
  9. Dr Nayha Gautam (2023) works towards establishing a formidable children’s cancer registry in the Eastern Cape through her investigation of the high number of unresolved children’s cases of Wilms tumour.
  10. Dr Kyle Kleinhans (2023) is revolutionising patient-based care by digitising the referral system at Clairwood Hospital.
  11. Dr Snothile Malinga (2023) – whose love for Internal medicine has driven her research into offering preventative care by finding gaps in the available guidelines for communicable and noncommunicable diseases.
  12. Dr Frenzar Tshiruruvhela (2023) is dedicated to understanding the alarming prevalence of advanced cervical cancer among HIV-positive women.
  13. Dr Khwena Malatsi (2023) – his research focuses on the lack of data on lifestyle diseases in rural areas, specifically strokes.
  14. Dr Marcel Pierre Loubster (2023) – his passion for maternal and child healthcare led him to examine the correlation between attitudes and beliefs about long-acting reversible contraception and neonatal mortality.
  15. Dr Marisa Crous (2023) engages with different stakeholders in the community, and she has initiated a community programme that addresses health topics such as contraception, drug abuse and mental health.
  16. Dr Sivuyile Luhana (2023) is strengthening primary healthcare through early screening and detection is what Dr Luhana and his team at Clairwood Hospital aim to do by piloting a screening tool.

The institutional award in healthcare for rural and underserved areas were given to:

  1. Dr Janet Stanford (2022) along with the Knysna Sedgefield Hospice, is dedicated to increasing access to palliative care through community involvement.
  2. Dr Martin Chosi (2022) – his long-standing dream of opening a resource centre has finally come true thanks to the Discovery Foundation grant. Dr Chosi has helped young people study towards their dream of becoming a doctor.
  3. Dr Peter Milligan (2022) is the head of Psychiatry at Ngwelezana hospital and one of his goals as increasing capacity for mental health development skills at 16 district hospitals in KwaZulu-Natal.
  4. Dr Rene Krause (2022) – a leader in the Interdisciplinary Palliative Care Medicine, Dr Renee Krause approaches palliative care holistically, prioritising the patients physical, emotional and spiritual needs.
  5. Dr Mandy Wessels (2023) is the programme chairperson of the Child Healthcare Problem Identification Programme and is at the helm of rolling out the long-awaited software programme that audits child deaths in healthcare facilities nationwide.
  6. Dr Gillian Douglas (2023) – through this grant the Head of Psychology, Dr Douglas and her team at Ngwelezane Hospital aim to further equip themselves with mental health skills, while increasing access to mental health resources for the community.
  7. Dr Jenny Nash (2023) has created a pilot project training staff on anaesthesia expertise, to alleviate pressure on emergency services.
  8. Dr Vhutshilo Netshituni (2023) – the Discovery Foundation grant has allowed her to lay the groundwork for training nurses and support staff at clinics in the Limpopo region to identify early warning signs of childhood cancer.
  9. Ms Maryke Bezuidenhout (2023) – this award will assist Manguzi Skills Development to continue developing long-term strategies and identify key resources and skills gaps in the mental and neurorehabilitation services in rural KwaZulu Natal.
  10. Prof Gert Marincowitz (2023) is an advocate for public health, Prof Marincowitz will use his grant to train palliative care teams for hospitals in the Tzaneen area.

A distinguished visitor award in healthcare for rural and underserved areas was given to:

Dr Lebogang Phahladira (2022) – who is pioneering work to shed light on innovative approaches to schizophrenia treatment and care.

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About Discovery

Discovery Limited is a South African-founded financial services organisation that operates in the healthcare, life assurance, short-term insurance, banking, savings and investment and wellness markets. Since inception in 1992, Discovery has been guided by a clear core purpose – to make people healthier and to enhance and protect their lives. This has manifested in its globally recognised Vitality Shared-Value insurance model, active in over 40 markets impacting over 40 million lives. The model is exported and scaled through the Global Vitality Network, an alliance of some of the largest insurers across key markets including AIA (Asia), Ping An (China), Generali (Europe), Sumitomo (Japan), John Hancock (US), Manulife (Canada) and Vitality Life & Health (UK, wholly owned). Discovery trades on the Johannesburg Securities Exchange as DSY.