A ray of sunshine in a depleted medical world

Name: Sonja Botha

Area of specialisation: Sonographer

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Johannesburg, April – About two years ago, Sister Sonja Botha moved to Hoedspruit, and with her she brought hope.

“I started speaking to Christine [Hlokomela Women’s Clinic founder] about how I can help, even before the clinic was completed,” comments Sister Botha.

Since she started at Hlokomela Women’s Clinic, she’s not only aided women with their health issues but also hosted educational workshops for women to raise awareness of healthcare and self-examinations. Her main daily tasks consist of pap smears, blood collections and ultrasounds, and she sees on average about 60 patients per month.

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“One of the biggest issues we currently face is our referral system,” she says. “I can identify pathology, but in our immediate surrounding environment, we only have government hospitals that are challenged regarding the available staff and equipment. It’s a huge problem as about 99% of the patients I find things with need to go for biopsies.”

“Having a GP, surgeon or gynaecologist on call, even just one day a week, to help with biopsies will make the world of difference to these women. In addition, we need to work with referral hospitals close by. Currently, we’re sending women to Helen Joseph, but it’s such an immense financial burden on their already strained economic situation that it’s not viable. But, the best solution really would be to have a gynaecologist who comes through once a month or so.”

Sister Botha continues to improve her skills as she’s completed a breast ultrasound course and she attended training for abdominal scanning in March of this year. By identifying needs within the community, she is able to expand how she can assist, not just the female patients but everyone.

She continues, “It’s heart-breaking. Cancer is diagnosed and then what; there is no help for after the diagnosis. For many people it feels like a death sentence.”

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The Breast Foundation Clinic at Helen Joseph was able to open slots for two ladies in whom possible malignant cells were found. And although this is a tremendous help and support, it is six hours away, which leads to unforeseen costs. This is why it is so important that a trustworthy referral system or financial aid enabling referrals are in place. 

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