Local doctor making a difference in the lives of whoonga addicts
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.