"Eish. This is Africa."
April 8, 2010 12:19 PM   Subscribe

Bongi is a South African surgeon working, as he puts it, "in the notorious province of Mpumalanga." He blogs regularly about the devastating effect of recent political changes on the skill level of the local medical system, as well as the struggles of trying to practice medicine under a system so badly decaying that its infrastructure is collapsing. Sometimes his posts ring with a dark humor, sometimes with wise and intelligent advice. But it's his bleakly frank portrayals of the terrible state of daily South African life that are the most haunting for me.
posted by KathrynT (12 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Deeply depressing. It seems that South Africa has been sliding down the hill ever since Mandela left power. Democracy + largely undereducated population = cronyism, it seems.
posted by leotrotsky at 12:35 PM on April 8, 2010

one of the aims of this blog is to elucidate life and medicine here. this is not usa. this is africa. this patient did make it, but there was no talk at all of litigation. to be honest, i did not even think of lawsuits until your comment. after all, this is africa. here you count your blessings if you survive.
posted by Slothrup at 12:41 PM on April 8, 2010

God that was depressing, but I'm glad its out there, is there some non corrupt charity that trains doctors for Africa that we could donate to?
posted by julie_of_the_jungle at 1:06 PM on April 8, 2010

Sure, it's bad and all that. My question though - overall, how is it compared to under apartheid? I mean, if it's bad, but slow - even very slow - progress is being made, then maybe there's a glimmer of hope. Of course, if things are getting worse, then I guess it's a lot more depressing. I read a couple of these links, but I can't get a sense of the directionality here... sorry for my ignorance, anyone have some stats or insight here?
posted by VikingSword at 1:17 PM on April 8, 2010

vikingsword, although not always, but on the whole i am of the decided opinion the present medical system for the average man on the street is much worse than it was in the apartheid era. sad but true.
posted by bongi1 at 2:39 PM on April 8, 2010 [4 favorites]

Wow, straight from the horses mouth so to speak :)

I hang out with a lot of people from the film services business, among them folks from SA. A few years ago - around 2002 or so - I asked one of the guys from SA (at the time he owned the biggest film services company in SA) about the situation there. He was very optimistic - said that people thought things would fall apart after apartheid ended and instead, things are on the upward path, business is good etc. (well, business was particularly good for foreign film production), and generally, as he put it "the blacks handled things really well". I kept bumping into him since, over the years, and he was no longer as chipper and optimistic. Finally, he stopped coming over (I guess business was no longer as good). I also heard from people coming back from productions in SA that crime was getting worse (basically you never go anywhere without guards). Of course, that is a very narrow perspective, so it's interesting to hear from a completely different angle (social services infrastructure). I hope you guys pull through. I do have a feeling a lot of this is because the economy is in the pits the world over, and once big growth resumes, a lot of these issues will resolve themselves - assuming that the pent up expectations can be handled without an explosion (i.e. I'm told by some folks back from SA that there is a perception in the black population that they've been very patient, and it's time for the ANC to deliver - expectations which may be a bit too aggressive given the economic realities, i.e., getting rid of apartheid is the political capital ANC has, but that's about getting spent now). Thank you for your wonderful blog!
posted by VikingSword at 3:05 PM on April 8, 2010

Thanks for dropping by, bongi1. I'm excited about this blog, and you've got lots of archives for me to delve through. I know what I'll be reading on my breaks this month!
posted by infinitywaltz at 3:05 PM on April 8, 2010

Infrastructure and delivery in SA is dependent on the province. Provinces with large urban centers like Gauteng (home of Johannesburg and Pretoria) and the Western Cape (Cape Town) fare much better than provinces that are majority rural such as Mpumalanga and Limpopo. But I would expect that to be the case in almost any country though.
posted by PenDevil at 3:15 PM on April 8, 2010

I have a friend who is a physician's assistant providing medical care in a prison here in the US. She previously worked at what is universally understood to be the worst hospital in Detroit. The line about not being used to suturing sober people would, I think, resonate with her (though the guys at the prison are usually sober, at least). I am looking forward to showing her this blog.
posted by not that girl at 3:34 PM on April 8, 2010

Fantastic blog. Great find, KathrynT.
posted by smoke at 7:28 PM on April 8, 2010

Bongi is a great medical blogger. I am glad to see he got some coverage here. He is frequently cited during the weekly 'Grand Rounds' featuring the best of the medical blogs. Kind of funny thin is I never really explored MetaFilter until i saw him Tweet about his blog being mentioned on it.

So I decided to become a member. Already finding good stuff here.
posted by ctsinclair at 9:03 PM on April 8, 2010

Welcome, and I hope you stick around, ctsinclair... that's what makes mf great - people of all backgrounds from all over the world sharing their knowledge, wit and wisdom. Again, a hearty welcome!
posted by VikingSword at 9:29 PM on April 8, 2010

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