Women in Health: Sr Wattie – the midwife from District Six who heeded the call to nurse and deliver

For decades, most stories from Cape Town’s District Six started with – “I was born at Peninsula Maternity Hospital!” The Peninsula Maternity Hospital was established in 1921 as a training hospital specialising in midwifery. It closed down in 1992. On the day of its closure, a group of nurses climbed up to the hospital’s roof to take a last look at Table Mountain and the surrounds where they served so many. Among them was sister Patience Watlington, or Sr Wattie, as many referred to her. Biénne Huisman sat down with the 80-year-old nursing veteran as she reflected on life as a midwife in District Six.

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Women in Health: Being a midwife is a calling, says founder of Black Women Arise

Being a midwife is not a career for her, says Sebabatso Tsosane – it’s a calling. Refilwe Mochoari spoke to Tsosane – a midwife, lecturer, and founder of the Free State-based organisation Black Women Arise – about her passion to empower women with knowledge about their sexual and reproductive health as part of Spotlight’s Women in Health series.

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Women in Health: How Daphney Conco dreamed of wearing a graduation gown and did it

Dr Daphney Conco is passionate about sexual and reproductive health rights – access to abortion in particular – and that is why she is now at the forefront of research on access to abortion services in South Africa. Tiyese Jeranji spoke to her about her work, her passion for research, and how as a little girl in rural KwaZulu-Natal she dreamed of wearing a graduation gown.

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In-depth: Surgery catch-up hamstrung by shortage of ICU nurses

Hospitals in South Africa have been put under immense strain over the past two years as beds were filled with COVID-19 patients and elective surgeries had to be put on hold. To make things worse, pre-existing shortages of intensive care trained nurses and other critical staff were exacerbated by healthcare workers themselves contracting SARS-CoV-2 and falling ill or having to isolate themselves. Tiyese Jeranji explores how Gauteng and the Western Cape are catching up on elective surgeries and asks what is being done about the underlying problem of staff shortages.

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Medical intern burnout worsened by COVID-19

Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic many medical interns in South Africa had a tough time, often working long hours and with little oversight or support. Chris Bateman spoke to interns and junior doctors in public hospitals and tag-on COVID-19 facilities, who are performing tasks of porters, auxiliary nurses, and liaising with anxious relatives, instead of getting the required hands-on, supervised learning.

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