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Park Street Series

Rural Medicine: A South African Perspective

Sally and Karl le Roux

Karl and Sally le Roux

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Sally and Karl le Roux, a South African medical doctor couple, have worked since 2006 at a small rural facility called Zithulele Hospital in the Eastern Cape of South Africa, not far from where Nelson Mandela was born. Starting off with a team of only four doctors in a part of South Africa devastated by HIV, they often struggled to get through the massive patient load every day. Yet, they have drawn an ever-increasing number of doctors and allied health care workers to the hospital each year. Today, Zithulele Hospital is widely regarded as one of the best rural government hospitals in South Africa, with a team of sixteen doctors and twenty health care workers in the allied health professions.  

Sally qualified as a doctor at the University of Cape Town (UCT) in 2000. She has a Masters in International Health from Uppsala University, Diplomas in the Management of HIV and Child Health, and a special interest in Paediatric HIV.  In 2016 she became the founding principal of the Zithulele Independent School, now teaching first and second grades along with her work in the Zithulele Paediatric HIV clinic. 

Karl qualified at UCT in 1999, and he also has a Masters in International Health from Uppsala, with Diplomas in Obstetrics and Anaesthetics. He was the Chairperson of the Rural Doctors' Association of South Africa from 2008 to 2012 and is an Honorary Lecturer in the Primary Health Care Directorate of UCT and the Family Medicine Department of Walter Sisulu University. Since 2013, he has run several longitudinal studies in the communities around Zithulele Hospital examining what happens to babies born at the hospital and their mothers over time. His special interests include HIV medicine, providing good maternity care, the role of community health workers in primary care and how to make rural hospitals sustainable.  

This fall, Sally and Karl are teaching a policy task force about Maternal and Child Health in South Africa at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.