Lo­cal doc­tor mak­ing a dif­fer­ence in the lives of whoonga ad­dicts

The Witness - - NEWS - VIN­CENT MADLOPHA vin­cent.madlopha@wit­ness.co.za

A DOC­TOR who was raised in Im­bali is do­ing all he can to help break the cy­cle of whoonga ad­dic­tion in the city.

Hav­ing been raised by a sin­gle par­ent in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg’s Im­bali town­ship, be­com­ing a doc­tor seemed like a pipe dream for 31­year­old Dr Sph­e­sihle Ngob­ese.

“There were not enough black doc­tors in KZN and in the coun­try as a whole, so this, as well as a push from my mother, helped drive my de­ci­sion to be­come a doc­tor.”

Ngob­ese grew up in Im­bali where he at­tended Fe­zokuhle Pri­mary School and went to In­sikayethu High School. He then went to the Univer­sity of KwaZulu­Natal to study medicine.

It was his life­long dream to qual­ify to help those who need it most. “Af­ter grad­u­at­ing I worked for hos­pi­tals around Pi­eter­mar­itzburg such as North­dale Hos­pi­tal, Grey’s Hos­pi­tal and Eden­dale Hos­pi­tal,” he said.

He said the so­cial chal­lenges he wit­nessed in Im­bali — like his peers be­ing in­volved in crime and drugs, and the lack of re­sources for sci­ence at his high school — did not dis­tract him from achiev­ing his goal of be­com­ing a doc­tor. Re­al­is­ing that there was an in­crease in the num­ber of young peo­ple from his area who were los­ing them­selves to drugs, par­tic­u­larly whoonga, Ngob­ese de­cided to in­ter­vene and make a dif­fer­ence.

“I or­der med­i­ca­tion called Methadone for whoonga users and sell it to them at a low price so that they can af­ford it. The pur­pose here is not to make prof­its but to in­crease the chance of hav­ing a drug­free so­ci­ety,” said Ngob­ese.

Methadone has been used to help whoonga ad­dicts kick the habit.

Ngob­ese said one of the chal­lenges he faces when as­sist­ing the whoonga users is that their fam­i­lies do not have enough money to buy the med­i­ca­tion for the du­ra­tion it takes to get the drug out of their sys­tems; as a re­sult users end up tak­ing the drug again. Whoonga users are re­jected by their com­mu­nity most of the time and they are al­ways associated with crime, he added.

“The drug can push the user into com­mit­ting crime be­cause they need to get money to buy more whoonga.”

“If we can col­lab­o­rate with other doc­tors and in­di­vid­u­als who want to beat this drug we can make a big dif­fer­ence,” said Ngob­ese.

“To­gether we can try and open a re­hab cen­tre, but this can­not be done by an in­di­vid­ual. We re­ally need to unite to save our coun­try,” he said.

Ngob­ese be­lieves that hav­ing more re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion cen­tres and join­ing hands with com­mu­ni­ties, pri­vate busi­nesses and the gov­ern­ment, there is a good chance of win­ning the war against drugs and still sav­ing the youth of this coun­try.


Dr Sph­e­sihle Ngob­ese in his surgery at Eden­dale mall.

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