Healing is Naeema’s joy
‘IT takes a different type of medical practitioner to be a paediatrician, because you’re not only working with someone’s child, but also with the parents as well.’
This is the view of Dr Naeema Sheik, a paediatrics specialist who recently started her own private practice at Melomed Hospital.
The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) graduate (2004) joined the team at the Queen Nandi Regional Hospital, previously known as the Lower Umfolozi War Memorial Hospital, in 2016 where she worked in the paediatric unit and was also elected as regional coordinator for Emergency Triage Assessment and Treatment (ETAT). She had previously completed her specialist training at UKZN in 2015.
The vibrant, passionate and bubbly Dr Sheik said her love for paediatrics started during her years of community service, the year after her internship.
‘Dealing with children is far more complicated than dealing with adults, in the sense that children do not fully understand where the source of their pain comes from and have to describe the type of pain they’re experiencing.
‘To develop that rapport with a child takes time. It’s not like with an adult when you ask them to sit on the bed for examination and they do it immediately. With a child you need to develop a relationship so that they trust you and allow you to touch them.
‘When you ask a child where their pain is, they almost always point to their abdomen. Their tummy is sore no matter where the pain is,’ she laughed.
While her job can be full of joy and upliftment, Dr Sheik admitted that working with children makes it all that more difficult when nothing more can be done to help them.
‘It is very traumatic to break the bad news to a parent and it never gets easier. Who wants to hear that?’
She said a critical part of her job is to identify a problem and refer her patients very quickly when needed.
‘Many of my patients need subspecialists, so it is vital to identify what the problem is and refer them as soon as possible.’
Educating the local community on the use of traditional medicines is another passion Dr Sheik feels strongly about.
‘I really want to educate the community about the use of traditional medicines, I have seen children in the past die because of traditional medicine.
‘You find that it’s especially the grandmothers who use these medicines.
‘Things have changed over the years, medicines have changed and human’s immune systems have changed.
‘Something that worked in the past might not necessarily work now and it’s important that the community know and understand this.
‘Education is key because if people don’t know, they are going to continue doing it so we have to change their mindsets,’ she said.
Local paediatrician Dr Naeema Sheik with a quick smile during a routine examination of this little man at Melomed Hospital