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Single mum doctor spearheads mobile testing teams

Dr Nozipho Jaxa, right, hands over vehicles to the testing and tracing teams with the Eastern Cape Health MEC Sindiswa Gomba, left.
MEDICAL MISSION: Dr Nozipho Jaxa, right, hands over vehicles to the testing and tracing teams with the Eastern Cape Health MEC Sindiswa Gomba, left.

Nozipho Jaxa has been devoted to her job for as long as she can remember.

The doctor and single mother of two has been working non-stop in the fight against the coronavirus.

Jaxa, 53, has established mobile testing teams, and been involved in training and mentoring programmes in the Eastern Cape.

“I knew that a majority of people in the community would not have access to Covid-19 testing,” she said.

“I knew that most facilities would not cope with the load of testing and still continue offering other health services.

“I knew that travelling in public transport to go to a testing site would discourage a number of people as they would be stigmatised in public transport if they wore a mask, as the wearing of a mask was optional at the beginning of the pandemic,” Jaxa, 53, said.

She then came up with the idea of setting up mobile testing teams.

“Every time we receive results of a positive person, we visit them at home, test their families and other close contacts like colleagues at work.”

Jaxa has also worked to set up and implement a programme whereby teams are trained to safely test people for the virus as well as track and trace potential positive cases.

The programme also involves organising and establishing a streamlined processes for data collection, laboratory services and transport for teams.

“I have also supported the department of education in setting up its programme in managing outbreaks in schools.

“The programme has supported testing in old age homes for the vulnerable communities and shelters for the homeless set up by the department of social development.

“The integrated programme has improved access to testing for Covid-19 for rural communities. Rural schoolchildren have received testing at school, with results brought to them at school.”

She said the tracing teams had been supported with cellphones to contact people and advise them on what to do.

“Information will be collected electronically and reach our provincial and national offices on time,” said Jaxa,  who has also spent much of her career working for global NGO Management Sciences for Health (MSH), attending to HIV/Aids patients and building a sustainable HIV/Aids programme in the province.

“Working at MSH had taught me a few principles. One of them was learning to do more with less and use available resources to their maximum.

“It was a fulfilling job and I have used a lot of what I learnt there in the last few months.”

Jaxa said being on the front line during a pandemic was stressful and scary.

“I worry about everyone. I am worried about picking up the disease.

“I am worried about my team members and everyone working on the front lines potentially picking up the virus.”

Jaxa, who has been a doctor for more than 20 years, said it had always been her number one career choice.

“I remember as a child studying at Nonkunzi Primary School next to Glen Grey Hospital in Cacadu. My class teacher, Monwabisi Malotana, pointed at a doctor who had brought his children to school.

“My class teacher told me that one day I would be like him,” Jaxa said.

“We used to visit the hospital on our way back home from school and it always fascinated me.”

She said seeing her patients become healthy again was what drove her.

“The most rewarding thing about being a doctor is seeing your patients well. I still meet patients I took care of a while ago when working in the HIV and Aids field, and they remind me of how they looked then.

“Some are professionals who had given up on life then but my motivation made them pull through. I still believe even with Covid-19, it can be done. The number of recoveries that we are seeing is very encouraging,” Jaxa said.

“I also love team work, and seeing the programme unfolding as it is doing gives me a lot of joy.”

  • Jaxa is a nominee for the Daily Dispatch and Johnson & Johnson’s new Front Line Hero award sponsored by Johnson & Johnson. This is a new category added to the annual Local Heroes campaign, which seeks to honour an individual working on the front lines during the Covid-19 pandemic. - DispatchLIVE

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