Media releases

Hospital and emergency medical service staff committed to saving lives this Easter

Netcare and Netcare 911 informs the public about travel safety

Thursday, April 13 2017

As the long Easter weekend draws near, many South Africans will be traveling to visit family and friends or one of the country’s many beautiful vacation spots. The increased number of vehicles on the roads, sometimes coupled with fatigue, alcohol or a sense of carelessness, can unfortunately lead to injuries and fatalities on our roads.

“Every motorist has a role to play in making South Africa’s roads safer over this Easter period. By following reasonable safety precautions and courteous driving behaviour, it is possible to reduce the number of accidents, injuries and deaths and ensure that more people reach their destinations and return safely after their holidays,” says Shalen Ramduth, Netcare 911 Director: business development and support services.

Netcare 911 will be out in full force over this holiday season to assist anyone in need of emergency medical attention. With support from Netcare St Anne’s Hospital, Netcare 911 will also be actively engaging with the public, spreading the message of how to stay safe and avoid unnecessary harm while travelling.

“Through educating and informing the public on various ways they can increase their safety and that of their loved ones, we are hopeful to make a difference,” Ramduth observes. “We will be distributing educational flyers and posters with safety tips all along the N3 route near Pietermaritzburg and Durban,” he adds.

He notes that the two major contributors to road accidents are driver fatigue and drunk driving, both of which are preventable. “Drivers need to consider the importance of being mentally alert and in good physical condition when embarking on a road trip. This means that they should get enough rest before undertaking a road journey and never drive under the influence of alcohol, drugs or any medication that might impair their judgement or ability to drive safely,” cautions Ramduth.

“Drivers should also remember that even if they are well rested before departing, driving for long stretches at a time causes driver fatigue,” says Ramduth. “In order to avoid this, take turns with another qualified individual to drive, and remember to stop for a rest and to stretch your legs at least every two hours, as this will help you to stay alert and awake,” he adds.

Before setting off on holiday, drivers should ensure that their vehicle is roadworthy and equipped with a spare tyre in good repair, basic tools, reflective triangle and first aid kit.

“The importance of a first aid kit is often overlooked and sometimes the contents of the kits have expired, rendering them unusable,” says Ramduth. “It is therefore essential to check the contents of your first aid kit regularly and replace any expired or damaged contents,” he adds.

Here is a handy checklist of essential items for your first aid kit:

  • Cotton wool
  • A digital thermometer
  • Medical gloves
  • Two medical eye patches
  • Burnshield dressing
  • A variety of bandages and plasters as well as sterile gauze
  • Antiseptic wipes and liquid
  • A space blanket
  • Safety pins, scissors, tweezers: and
  • Paracetamol tablets and syrup

Netcare St Anne’s Hospital in Pietermaritzburg sees many emergency and trauma patients during Easter, given its close proximity to the East Coast – a popular holiday destination, especially during the Easter holidays. Louis Joubert, general manager of Netcare St Anne’s Hospital, shares some insights on how the public can assist emergency medical personnel in the event of an emergency situation.

“Firstly, it is crucial that your medical history, including details of any medicine allergies and chronic health conditions you may have, your identity document and medical scheme membership information is easily obtainable by paramedics and other emergency staff,” says Joubert.


“If you are involved in an accident, it can save precious time if emergency medical personnel are able to identify you and obtain your medical history quickly, as it will help to speed up your treatment at the scene of the accident or incident and in the emergency department,” he says. “With access to your medical history, paramedics and medical staff will be able to ensure your treatment is appropriate for your individual medical background, and hence, more effective. They will also be able to notify your next of kin more quickly.”

Joubert says it is good practice to prepare and plan your route in advance and to identify any potential problems that may impact you on your journey. “Pinpoint all the hospitals and clinics on your route, so that wherever you are, you will know where the nearest medical facility is. Never stop in an isolated location and ensure that you regularly update at least two people, who are not traveling with you, on your current location,” he advises.

“Technology is making it easier to call for assistance in the case of an emergency, with a partnership between Netcare 911 and mySOS emergency mobile application,” adds Ramduth.

“In an emergency, the mySOS app sends an alert to Netcare 911’s national emergency operations centre, or other relevant emergency services, and your selected loved ones to show them your GPS location,” he explains. “The app also makes a phone call to Netcare 911, or the most appropriate service provider for the type of emergency encountered, so that assistance is mobilised in the shortest possible time.”

In addition, the app can direct you to medical facilities along your route and also includes a function that can track your location while you are travelling, for greater peace of mind for both the traveller and their loved ones. If you do not reach your destination within a time limit set by yourself, the app will alert your selected emergency contacts, providing them with your position and a map of the route you took, while continuing to track your location. This potentially lifesaving service uses minimal battery power on your phone.

The mySOS app can be downloaded for free for Android as well as iOS at

 “It is always our hope that there will not be any accidents, and we hope to pre-empt many preventable accidents by promoting road safety awareness. Nonetheless, Netcare 911’s dedicated emergency care practitioners will be on full alert and ready to assist in case of any medical emergency that may arise,” Ramduth concludes.


Issued by:       Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare St Anne’s Hospital and Netcare 911
Contact:          Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Meggan Saville and Pieter Rossouw
Telephone:     (011) 469 3016
Email:    ,, or


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Travellers and hikers urged to be cautious of tick borne diseases

Ticks are most prevalent in South Africa during the warmer months of the year

Tuesday, February 7 2017

Ticks are most prevalent in South Africa during the warmer months of the year, and Netcare Travel Clinics urges travellers, international visitors, hikers, campers and farmers to be vigilant of potentially debilitating and serious tick-borne diseases at this time of the year.

Dr Pete Vincent of the Netcare Travel Clinics and Medicross Family Medical and Dental Centres, Tokai, warns that tick-borne diseases, such as spotted fever rickettsiosis, commonly known as tick bite fever, and the more dangerous Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever (CCHF), occur more commonly on the southern African sub-continent between November and April every year.

“Taking precautions, including checking yourself for, and removing, ticks daily after having been potentially exposed to them, greatly decreases the chances of becoming infected with such tick borne diseases,” he adds.

“While the occurrence of CCHF in South Africa is rare, the same can unfortunately not be said of common African tick bite fever,” states Dr Vincent. “African tick bite fever can occur around the country and sub-continent, but in SA it is endemic in areas such as the Free State, Northern Cape, Eastern Cape and the Kruger National Park. It is, in addition, found on the East Coast of South Africa throughout the year, and is one of the most commonly reported infections among international visitors.”
“The National Institute of Communicable Diseases [NICD] has reported that a number of Johannesburg residents have presented with mild febrile illness with rash in recent weeks, which may be as a result of tick bite fever, although the cause of these infections is currently being investigated.”

According to Dr Vincent, the severity of tick bite fever can vary widely, and if it is not treated promptly with antibiotics can be a most unpleasant illness, causing high fevers, muscle pain and severe headaches, and can lay a sufferer low for two weeks or more.

“It is essential to see your doctor if you have been bitten by a tick and start developing symptoms such as fever, headache and rash. Early treatment with a tetracycline antibiotic should resolve the illness early and prevent further possible complications.

“In January, the NICD has confirmed two cases of CCHF, which is usually tick-borne and can be life-threatening, in farmers from the Western and Northern Cape,” adds Dr Vincent. “The risk of travellers getting the CCHF infection is extremely low, however. CCHF is generally seen in people who come into regular contact with livestock in endemic areas such as the Free State and Northern Cape.”

“People who walk through long grass or come in close contact with cattle should be particularly vigilant of ticks that may be carrying infection, and take steps to avoid being bitten by them. It should be noted that ticks on dogs and other mammals in urban and peri-urban areas may also potentially carry tick bite fever.

“With tick bite fever there is usually an eight-day incubation period. The bite site will develop black scabs, known as eschars, which can result in open wounds and swelling of lymph glands close to the bite site. At day eight, one usually gets onset fever, muscle pain and a headache. Three days later patients can present a macular or skin rash that appears as small, flat red spots,” says Dr Vincent.

“The onset of CCHF, on the other hand, is sudden. Patients may have a range of flu-like symptoms including headaches, high fever, muscle pain, lower back pain, cold shivers and hot sweats. As the illness progresses, severe bruising and nosebleeds could occur. ”

Dr Vincent recommends the following precautionary measures to protect against tick-borne diseases:

  • Check whether the area and place you are visiting has a high prevalence of tick bite diseases.
  • Wear long trousers that can be tucked into long socks and boots or closed shoes.
  • A DEET based mosquito repellent can be used on your lower legs.
  •  For added protection spray fabric insecticides, such as Permethrin, onto your clothing and leggings.
  •  Inspect your clothes and body for ticks immediately after potential exposure particularly along the legs, groin and hair line. This should be done at the end of each day while in a potential exposed area.
  • Extract any ticks as soon as possible using tweezers. The tweezers should be placed as close as possible to the skin, over the tick’s mouthparts. The tick should be pulled slowly, straight up and out, with care taken not to squeeze its stomach contents into the bite site.

“Should you be bitten by a tick, the affected area can be washed with soap and water, and an antihistamine ointment or mild cortisone cream applied. You can also take an oral antihistamine. Ticks should be removed before the affected area is cleaned. It is not advisable to try to burn the tick or use kerosene, turpentine or petroleum jelly to remove it,” concludes Dr Vincent.


Issued by:    Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare Travel Clinics
Contact    :    Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Meggan Saville and Pieter Rossouw
Telephone:    (011) 469 3016
Email:,, and


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Travellers urged to be cautious following bird flu outbreaks

Some 40 countries have reported outbreaks of avian flu, commonly known as bird flu.

Tuesday, January 31 2017

Some 40 countries have reported outbreaks of avian flu, commonly known as bird flu, in wild birds and domestic poultry since November 2016. Since September 2016, a total of 120 people have been infected with a certain strain of this infectious illness in China. As many as a third of these individuals died as a result of the infection.

According to Dr Pete Vincent of Netcare Travel Clinics and Tokai Medicross, these avian flu figures were recently reported by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centre for Diseases Control (CDC) in the United States. “South Africans, particularly those who are travelling, should be vigilant and avoid contact with birds, bird droppings, poultry farms and markets, as well as eating undercooked poultry and soft eggs,” advises Dr Vincent.

“Certain strains of bird flu, such as the influenza A H7N9 that is being reported from China, are highly contagious and could pose a serious threat to one’s health. Netcare Travel Clinics would advise travellers to China to be on the alert, although there is no cause for undue alarm,” he adds. “The CDC has issued a travel alert for China recommending that visitors avoid all contact with birds as far as possible when travelling to the country. However, the CDC has not recommended against travel to China.”

“Local clinicians who see patients who present with respiratory illness within 10 days of returning from China, should have them screened for H7N9 avian flu,” notes Dr Vincent.

Meanwhile the WHO has also recently reported outbreaks in wild birds and domestic poultry of the influenza A H5N8 bird flu strain in some 24 countries on the European continent as well various countries in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. WHO says that this strain carries a relatively low risk for transmission from birds to humans, but points out that there is nevertheless still a risk of cross infection.

Dr Vincent added that bird flu is occasionally reported in bird populations in South Africa but it has not been known to have been transmitted to humans here. “A H7N2 strain was reported in an ostrich flock on a farm in the Western Cape in October last year. This outbreak was quickly and effectively isolated by authorities.”

The local National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) reports in its January 2017 Communicable Diseases Communiqué that the most common type of influenza currently found in the northern hemisphere is Influenza A (H3N2). This is not related to avian flu and a vaccine is available for travellers.

“The 2016 southern hemisphere influenza vaccine is identical to the 2016/7 northern hemisphere vaccine, therefore South African travellers to the northern hemisphere may use a locally acquired vaccine prior to travel,” says the NCID.

The CDC* says that travellers should take the following measures to protect themselves when visiting China:

  • Avoid touching birds no matter whether they are alive or dead.
  • Avoid live bird or poultry markets, and particularly places where birds are being slaughtered.
  • Avoid places that might be contaminated with bird faeces.
  • Only eat food that is fully cooked.
  • Avoid eating dishes or drinks that include blood from any animal.
  • As a general precaution, do not eat food from street vendors.
  • Practice good hand hygiene and cleanliness.
  • If you feel sick after visiting China, talk to your doctor particularly if you have a fever, cough, or shortness of breath.



Issued by:    Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare Travel Clinics
Contact    :    Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Meggan Saville and Pieter Rossouw
Telephone:    (011) 469 3016
Email:,, and


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First comprehensive symposium in Africa on prostate artery embolisation

Symposium aims to familiarise doctors in new procedure for men with severely enlarged prostates

Friday, January 27 2017

Netcare Sunninghill Hospital in Johannesburg is to host the first comprehensive symposium in Africa on prostate artery embolisation, a recently introduced treatment option for treating men who suffer from symptoms related to enlarged prostate, on 16 and 17 March 2017.

According to Dr Stephen Cornish, a urologist who founded the prostate artery embolisation (PAE) unit at Netcare Sunninghill Hospital, says that the PAE procedure has achieved excellent outcomes in patients with severely enlarged prostates, or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), both internationally and now also locally.

“The symposium aims to improve knowledge about, and to keep doctors abreast of, the latest management options for benign prostatic hyperplasia, which in severe cases may cause a number of debilitating symptoms.

“The event will include an in-depth review of local and international experience with PAE, and explore patient selection, pre-operative work-up, procedural aspects as well as complication profiles. The role of the urologist in selecting the most appropriate treatment modality for the patient will also be discussed,” adds Dr Cornish.

In addition, there will be case based discussions, as well as two live cases performed by interventional radiologist, Dr Andrew Lawson, under the proctorship of Dr Nigel Hacking from the United Kingdom. Dr Hacking is an international proctor for PAE and currently one of the world’s leading interventional radiologists performing this procedure.

Dr Lawson, who together with Dr Cornish and radiologist, Dr Farrell Spiro, established the PAE unit at Netcare Sunninghill Hospital in 2016, says that the symposium aims to facilitate the introduction of PAE to South Africa, and familiarise urologists and interventional radiologists from around the country with the concept of PAE, which is relatively new to South Africa and not yet widely employed as a treatment option for BPH.

“Urologists, interventional radiologists and other medical professionals with an interest in BPH and PAE would benefit from the symposium, which is worth 13 CPD points, including nine clinical and four ethical,” he adds.

The PAE unit at Netcare Sunninghill Hospital is the first of its kind to be established in Africa, and received full international accreditation late in 2016. Dr Farrell Spiro and Dr Andrew Lawson are the principal interventional radiologists involved in offering the PAE service at Netcare Sunninghill Hospital.

“The PAE unit at Netcare Sunninghill Hospital has reached a new level of maturity and we are now in a position to explore outcomes and patient experiences,” says Dr Lawson. “We organised two highly successful two-day live PAE workshops during 2016 leading up to our accreditation. The PAE symposium to be held this March will build on this,” he adds.

“We are delighted with the early results that have already been achieved in our new unit. While we have yet to observe long-term outcomes, all of the procedures that we have done so far have been successful and have resulted in a meaningful reduction in patient symptoms and improved quality of life.”

According to Dr Lawson, an enlarged prostate, or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), is the most common non-cancerous prostate medical condition to develop in men by the time they reach their 60s.

“Thousands of older South African men who suffer from prostate enlargement live with a number of uncomfortable symptoms, including trouble urinating, dribbling, and/or a frequent need to urinate, particularly at night.

“Both locally and internationally, PAE is proving a valuable new treatment option for this condition and we are pleased that we are able to offer this educational symposium to improve awareness of BPH and the range of treatment options that are now available locally,” concludes Dr Lawson.

For further information on the symposium or to register please contact Esme Jooste on email, or go to Registrations must be received by no later than 28 February 2017.


Issued by:    Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare
Contact:    Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, or Meggan Saville
Telephone:    (011) 469 3016
Email:,, or


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Specialist team separate conjoined twins at Centurion hospital

Paediatric surgeons optimistic for twins’ future

Monday, January 23 2017

A pair of conjoined twins from Big Bend in Swaziland today underwent a successful six-hour separation operation at Netcare Unitas Hospital in Centurion, Gauteng. 

The twin girls, Uwenzile and Uyihlelile Shilongonyane, who together weighed 4.21 kilograms at birth, were born joined at the abdomen on 2 January to 19-year-old Bongekile Simelane and her husband Mbongeni Sihlongonyane.

Pic: Conjoined twins, Uwenzile and Uyihlelile Shilongonyane born joined at the abdomen on 2 January this year, with their mother 19-year-old Bongekile Simelane, minutes before they underwent their separation surgery at Netcare Unitas Hospital in Centurion.

Speaking ahead of the procedure, paediatric surgeons Dr Mariza de Villiers and Dr Paul Stevens agreed that the twins had a good prognosis. “This type of conjoined twins are known as omphalopagus twins, which means they were joined at the lower abdomen and do not share a heart,” they noted.

“Pre-operative assessments indicated that the babies also did not share any other vital organs. This considerably improved their chances of surviving the surgical separation and will also contribute greatly to them leading healthy lives going forward,” said Dr De Villiers.

The Shilongonyane girls are the second set of conjoined twins that Drs De Villiers and Dr Stevens have separated, and are the first to have their separation surgery done at Netcare Unitas Hospital. The paediatric surgeons were assisted by Dr Francisca Van Der Schyff and Dr Kagiso Batka.

Proud parents Bongekile Simelane and Mbongeni Sihlongonyane photographed with paediatric surgeons Dr Mariza de Villiers and Dr Paul Stevens who led the surgical team at Netcare Unitas Hospital in Centurion this morning.

The two gorgeous little girls, Uwenzile and Uyihlelile Shilongonyane, being prepared for separation surgery today at Netcare Unitas Hospital in Centurion.


Dr De Villiers said that the twins were joined only by a bridge of skin, which made the operation simpler than if they shared vital organs. “There are always considerable risks when separating conjoined twins, but we have been cautiously optimistic all along that the operation would have a good outcome for both twins,” she observed.

“The fact that there was a skin bridge between them, meant that there was sufficient skin to close the resultant surgical wound on each baby without the need for plastic surgery.”

According to Dr Stevens one of the main challenges the surgical team anticipated ahead of the procedure, related to the anaesthesia. “The twins were conjoined in such as way that they are facing each other. Intubation for such tiny babies is delicate enough, but as their faces are so close to one another and they are not able to be placed on their backs to be intubated for anaesthesia, this was a great deal more complicated than usual.”

As a result, four anaesthetists participated in the procedure, with each twin being cared for by two anaesthetists for the duration of the surgery. The doctors worked in two distinct teams, identified by their pink and purple surgical scrub caps. The all-female team of anaesthetists consisted of Dr Henrika Rossouw, Dr Sandra Spijkerman, Dr Marleen Odendaal and Dr Jeanri Smith. The little patients were matched to their team by wearing corresponding colours and were connected to their own, colour-coded anaesthetic machine.

The initial stage of the procedure, which was dedicated to getting the anaesthetic just right for the surgery, took more than three hours, which meant that it took almost half of the total theatre time. The twins were officially separated at noon today and the rest of the surgery was completed just before 14h00 this afternoon. ”

The all-female team of anaesthetists: Dr Henrika Rossouw, Dr Sandra Spijkerman, Dr Marleen Odendaal and Dr Jeanri Smith, who were tasked with one of the greatest challenges faced by the surgical team who separated conjoined twins, Uwenzile and Uyihlelile Shilongonyane. The twins were conjoined in such as way that they were facing each other, making the delicate task of intubating the little babies a great deal more complicated than usual.

A study in soulful concentration as Dr Henrika Rossouw prepares baby, Uyihlelile Shilongonyane for anaesthesia.


Uwenzile and Uyihlelile were born by caesarean section. Bongkile and Mbongeni are also parents to twin boys aged two. According to Bongkile until the seventh month of her pregnancy she had no idea that she was about to give birth to a second set of twins. “At first I was not happy to hear that I was expecting twins for the second time,” she recalls. “However, once they were born everything changed. After their birth I was at first not worried as I thought the babies were only attached at the umbilical cord.”

“I love my babies so much,” said a tearful and nervous Bongkile as the babies were taken into theatre.

The young couple drew considerable strength from Portia Mabuela, an enrolled nurse at Netcare Unitas Hospital, who has become very close to the family. Even though she was off duty, Portia came in specially to be with the family during this challenging time. “Bongkile was concerned about the well-being of their babies, especially as she could not be with them in theatre and was unable to feed them as per their normal feeding schedule,” said Mabuela.

“We are all so impressed with the ease with which this young mother has been handling her conjoined babies, considering the difficulty in doing something as basic as picking them up,” commented general manager of Netcare Unitas Hospital, Robert Jordaan.

“The operation involved a team of eight doctors and a theatre team of 11 nursing professionals. Most of the team members were women,” he added.

“This is a proud moment for Netcare Unitas Hospital and especially for our team of expert doctors and nurses who participated in this operation. What happened here today represents a milestone in the medical history of our facility.”



Issued by:    Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare Unitas Hospital
Contact:    Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Meggan Saville, or Pieter Rossouw
Telephone:    (011) 469 3016
Email:,,, or

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Netcare warns public of on-going job and training offer scams

Netcare, has issued a warning to the public regarding on-going job offer and training scams advertised on social media platforms or via sms or emails.

Wednesday, January 11 2017

Healthcare group, Netcare, has issued a warning to the public regarding on-going job offer and training scams advertised on social media platforms or via sms or emails.

Group human resources director, Peter Warrener, says the advertisements or messages claim that Netcare and Netcare 911 are seeking to employ nurses, paramedics or fill other positions. Similarly, learnerships and internship vacancies within Netcare and Netcare 911 are also being advertised.

According to Warrener, the names of Netcare and emergency services provider, Netcare 911, are being fraudulently used in these scam advertisements, with the aim of soliciting money from the public. Applicants are often requested to send payment as a part of their application, with a promise of either employment at a Netcare or Netcare 911 facility or training towards becoming an employee, but are then defrauded of their money.

“Netcare does not recruit or advertise jobs, learnerships and internships in this manner and we urge the public to be vigilant with regard to any such offers, as they do not originate from Netcare or Netcare 911. Members of the public can contact the Netcare Human Resources Shared Services Centre on 086 022 5547 to find out whether a job or training opportunity is legitimate,” Warrener says.

“We furthermore strongly recommend that those individuals who have been scammed take up their case with the South African Police Services,” added Warrener.

Warrener says that there are a number of ‘red flags’ that may point to the fact that the job or training opportunity advertised is a scam and not legitimate:

  • The application form asks for the applicant’s banking details.
  • Only a cellular telephone number is supplied for enquiries, claiming the landline is “out of order”.
  • A dream job without the need of being interviewed is being promised.
  • A legitimate sounding company name (i.e. “Net-care”) is used.
  • Payment is requested upfront for so-called administration purposes, accommodation and uniforms.
  • The payment mechanism is facilitated via a cellular telephone number at a money market facility, such as a supermarket.

“We strongly caution job seekers not to make any payment to secure employment, a job interview, learnership, or internship where the name of Netcare or Netcare 911 name is used,” concludes Warrener.


Issued by:           MNA on behalf of Netcare and Netcare 911

Contact:               Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Meggan Saville or Pieter Rossouw

Telephone:        (011) 469 3016

Email:         ,, or

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Festive season feasting: how overindulgence can lower your life expectancy

The festive season is in full swing

Thursday, December 22 2016

The festive season is in full swing and for most of us this means an abundance of scrumptious meals, dazzling drinks and seductive deserts. During this time, overindulgence is often overlooked, often even encouraged and generally considered acceptable – it is also often justified with the promise of eating healthily again “next year”.

A few days of bad eating and excessive drinking might seem harmless, but a sudden surge of unhealthy activity can have a negative impact on the body, and may even reduce life expectancy.
During the last few years, leading medical researchers have started using the term ‘microlives’ in order to better illustrate the impact of simple activities on life expectancy, says Netcare’s medical director, Dr Anchen Laubscher.

“A ‘microlife’ is a unit of risk representing thirty minutes’ change in life expectancy. For example, smoking two cigarettes is estimated to take away one ‘microlife’ thereby, in theory, shortening a hypothetical life by thirty minutes.

“A more applicable example that may reduce life expectancy is regularly having a meal containing three portions of meat, five portions of vegetables, three portions of carbohydrates and three alcoholic beverages.

“To have a meal of that size seems outrageous, but if you picture your average festive dinner table, it is easy to imagine three meats, five vegetables and various forms of starch accompanied by lots of alcohol,” she adds.

“The use of the term ‘microlives’ puts a lot of the seemingly harmless things we do over the festive season into rather harsh perspective. Excessive drinking, smoking and unhealthy eating can easily slice away a few hours of your life every day,” she cautions.

“Furthermore, you also toy with your quality of life by increasing your risk of diabetes, heart disease and obesity. The unexpected increase of bad eating habits puts your digestive hormones and enzymes in disarray, potentially negatively impacting vital physiological processes and vital organs such as your heart and kidneys. Your blood sugar and cholesterol levels will spike and you also risk long-term obesity as your body may struggle to get rid of the rapid weight gain,” she adds.
On the upside, Dr Laubscher says that it is important to remember that “microlives” can also be gained or replenished by engaging in healthy activities.

“A simple activity like a brisk walk in the evenings or a few laps in the pool can add up to six ‘microlives’ or three hours to your life expectancy according to research,” says Dr Laubscher. “Drinking enough water, controlling your portion sizes and getting enough sleep will also significantly increase your health,” she suggests.  

Alcohol use during the festive season

“Over the festive season, people tend to overindulge in alcohol, increasing the prevalence of motor vehicle collisions and other causes of death related to alcohol abuse. Overindulgence in alcohol impairs a person’s judgement and it is vital to remember that this can result in violence, accidents, drowning and other physical injuries,” adds Dr Laubscher.
“When it comes to alcohol abuse, drunk driving is possibly the greatest risk. Drunk driving remains one of the biggest causes of motor vehicle collisions and road deaths in the country,” she cautions.

At the beginning of the 2016, Minister of Transport, Dipuo Peters, reported that during last year’s festive season, over 1 755 road fatalities were reported in South Africa. It has estimated that close on a half of these cases involved alcohol in some way.

“The statistics are shocking. There are countless campaigns and organisations that are creating awareness around the impact of drunk driving and attempting to decrease road deaths, but people still seem to think that it won’t happen to them,” says Dr Laubscher.   

“Now more than ever, there is no excuse for driving under the influence of alcohol. Technology has provided us with a number of reliable alternatives to get home safely and avoid driving under the influence,” she notes.  

Dr Laubscher concludes with a few useful tips on how to avoid overindulgence and stay safer this festive season:

  • Control your portion sizes. There is no need to eat more than your body needs just because it’s the festive season. Stick to the appropriate portion sizes for you age and body and be especially mindful of portions when eating desserts high in sugar.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking a lot of water. Often when you feel hungry, you are actually thirsty and people make the mistake of eating rather than drinking water, thereby consuming unnecessary kilojoules. By drinking enough water you will be able to control your cravings and portion sizes with greater ease.
  • Plan your meals ahead of time. By planning what and when you will eat, you will be able to avoid snacking and picking on unhealthy foods like chips and sweets.
  • Use smaller plates. This will automatically decrease your portions sizes and also create the illusion that you have eaten a full plate of food, making you feel satisfied faster.
  • Limit your alcohol intake. Not only does alcohol impair your judgement, it also dehydrates your body and contains massive amounts of hidden kilojoules, especially in pre-mixed spirit coolers.
  • If you are a smoker, try to quit. Smoking causes irreparable damage to your body and it is one of the leading causes for lung cancer and other serious medical conditions.


Issued by:    Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare Hospital Division
Contact:    Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Meggan Saville or Pieter Rossouw
Telephone:    (011) 469 3016
Email:,, or


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Fireworks safety – avoid injury this festive season

Public urged to avoid the unsuitable and unlawful use of fireworks this festive season

Wednesday, December 14 2016

After what was undoubtedly a tough year for many, we are all looking forward to some rest and relaxation during the upcoming festive season. Diwali, the celebration of light, and Guy Fawkes were recently celebrated across South Africa, with other celebratory events such as New Year’s Day still ahead of us.

Over and above friends and family gatherings, decorations, wonderful food and music, there is one thing that can be universally associated with many celebrations – fireworks.

“The dangers associated with the use of fireworks cannot be emphasised enough,” says René Grobler, trauma programme manager at Netcare Milpark Hospital. “Injuries caused by fireworks range from minor scrapes to severe burn wounds and amputations and, in many cases, those hurt are children under the age of fifteen,” she adds.

In recent weeks alone, two young boys made national headlines after they sustained severe injuries in firework related accidents. The one boy’s hand was amputated after he lit a firecracker he found in his sister’s room while the other boy sustained massive facial injuries when a firecracker exploded in his face during this year’s Diwali celebrations.

“People tend to forget that fireworks are in essence explosive devices and that they should therefore be used with extreme caution,” says Grobler.

Furthermore, fireworks can have an extremely stressful effect on animals and pets. Over the past weekend, the SPCA in the Kloof and Pietermaritzburg areas took in more than 43 animals that ran away from home, presumable due to stress and fear caused by the loud fireworks. This can also be dangerous to people: when in distress, animals can go into a “flight or fight” mode and may hurt themselves, or attack their owners or other people.

Although strict laws exist under the relevant sections of the Explosives Act, the unlawful sale and use of fireworks still remains a big problem. “If you buy fireworks, remember that only licensed firework dealers are authorised to sell fireworks to the public and they can easily be identified by large signs stating “dealer in fireworks” displayed in their stores,” says Grobler.  

Steer clear of fireworks with names such as "Indian Kings", "Classic Foils", "Square Bombs", and "Cherry Bombs”. These are illegal fireworks and the public is urged to report the sellers of these fireworks to the police immediately.

Grobler provides some tips on how to use fireworks safely:

  • Only use fireworks in designated areas set out by your local municipality.
  • Read the instructions on the packaging of fireworks and make sure that you follow it. This can include instructions on how to properly light and discard used fireworks safely.
  • Never light fireworks indoors. Fireworks should only be used outside in an open area away from buildings.
  • Make sure you wear protective safety glasses and gloves when operating fireworks.
  • Always have a fire extinguisher and a bucket of water nearby when lighting fireworks.
  • Never attempt to make your own fireworks and never light fireworks if you suspect that they are homemade.
  • Never allow children near fireworks.
  • Never try to relight fireworks that fail to ignite as they could still react to residual heat and may well explode while you are handling them.

Even when all the necessary precautions have been taken, accidents can still happen and you also need to prepare for such an eventuality. Make sure that you have a first aid kit nearby at all times and have emergency numbers saved on your phone in case you need it.

“When someone is hurt by fireworks, initiate first aid immediately and phone a emergency medical service provider such as Netcare 911 (082 911) for professional assistance,” Grobler cautions. “The most common firework injuries are burns. While you wait for the ambulance, run the wound under cold water. Do not apply any ointments to the wound. If a wound is bleeding, put pressure on the wound and cover it with a towel or a piece of fabric to slow down bleeding,” she concludes.



Issued by:    Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare Trauma Injury Prevention
Contact:    Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Meggan Saville or Pieter Rossouw
Telephone:    (011) 469 3016
Email:,, or


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Latest recipients of prestigious Hamilton Naki Clinical Scholarship announced

Honouring the memory of a remarkable black medical pioneer denied recognition under apartheid

Friday, December 2 2016

The latest two recipients of the prestigious Hamilton Naki Clinical Scholarship, named in honour of the man who assisted in the experimental work that preceded the first human heart transplant, were announced at a gala dinner held on 1 December. 

"Pictured: (From left to right) Professor Bongani Mayosi, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences of the University of Cape Town (UCT); Dr Marshall Heradien, a cardiologist and specialist physician at Stellenbosch University who is one of the recipients of this year’s Hamilton Naki Clinical Scholarship; and Dr Richard Friedland, chief executive officer of Netcare; pictured at the awards function."

“We are delighted to award the 2016 Hamilton Naki Clinical Scholarship to Dr Marshall Heradien, a cardiologist and specialist physician at Stellenbosch University who has registered for his PhD, and Dr Shrish Budree, a paediatric gastroenterologist currently studying at Harvard University,” said Dr Richard Friedland, chief executive officer of Netcare. 

This brings to 13 the total number of scholarships awarded to date. The scholarship is named in honour of Hamilton Naki, whom Professor Christiaan Barnard recognised as a man of extraordinary natural surgical ability but due to the policies of apartheid he was denied any formal medical training, despite the remarkable aptitude he displayed.

“This scholarship initiative, in which Netcare has joined hands with all of the medical schools of our South African universities, creates opportunities for deserving South African medical practitioners to further their studies and research in their respective fields of specialisation, before returning to South Africa to continue to contribute towards the advancement of South African academic medicine,” Dr Friedland explains.

“In this way, we honour the legacy of Hamilton Naki and numerous other South Africans who were denied the chance to fulfil their potential in the field of medicine during apartheid and ensure the continued progress of medicine in our country.”

The scholarship was the brainchild of the Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences of the University of Cape Town (UCT), Professor Bongani Mayosi, who was concerned about a shortage of qualified academic doctors in leadership roles at South African medical schools and who envisaged that, through this initiative, suitably qualified South African candidates would be given the opportunity to build academic excellence in all fields of medicine.

In 2007, Professor Mayosi’s vision became a reality with the launch of the Hamilton Naki Clinical Scholarship under the auspices of the Physician Partnerships Trust, which forms part of Netcare’s Health Partners for Life programme.

Past recipients of the Hamilton Naki Scholarship

Dr Carol Hlela
The first recipient, dermatologist, Dr Carol Hlela, graduated with a DPhil from the University of Oxford in 2010, and has since completed her third year of study towards a DPhil in Cutaneous Immunology at Green College, University of Oxford. Dr Hlela, who has tenure at UCT as Head of Paediatric Dermatology at Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital, has been published 12 times and achieved a Y2 rating with the National Research Foundation in 2014.

Dr Bonginkosi Chiliza
Psychiatrist, Dr Bonginkosi Chiliza, also received the scholarship in 2007 and took up a full-time academic post at Stellenbosch University after his one-year scholarship, and graduated with a PhD in 2014. Dr Chiliza has had 36 publications since he was awarded the scholarship, and has been promoted to the rank of Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Stellenbosch University.

Dr Mushi Matjila
The 2009 scholarship recipient, Dr Mushi Matjila from UCT, elected to study further in the highly specialised field of placental biology. Dr Matjila’s submitted his doctoral thesis "The role of kisspeptin and its cognate receptor GPR-54 in normal and abnormal placentation” in November 2014, and graduated in June 2015. To date, Dr Matjila’s has been published nine times, registered one patent and secured tenure at the university.

Dr Deliwe Ngwezi
The 2010 recipient, Dr Deliwe Ngwezi, is a paediatric cardiologist who studied the environmental causes of congenital heart disease. She officially passed her PhD candidacy exam in April 2015 at the University of Alberta in Canada, and has had one publication and one high impact abstract published since the award.

Dr Rudzani Muloiwa
Paediatrician, Dr Rudzani Muloiwa, to whom the scholarship was awarded in 2011, is researching the causes of whooping cough in children. Dr Muloiwa will complete his doctorate through UCT next year. Since being awarded the scholarship, Dr Muloiwa has been published 16 times.

Dr Liesl Zuhlke
The 2012 recipient, paediatric cardiologist, Dr Liesl Zuhlke, studied rheumatic heart disease and completed her PhD in 2015. She has been published 37 times since receiving the scholarship. Dr Zuhlke has accepted a post-doctoral post at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital, where she commenced her duties in October 2016.

Dr Itumeleng Taunyane
The 2013 recipient, Dr Itumeleng Taunyane, is a cardiothoracic surgeon who has been researching the effects of heart surgery on the brain function of pigs. Dr Taunyane is currently based in Germany, where he is in his second year of PhD study at the University of Freiburg. He has been offered a two year operating surgical training position in Germany, after which he is expected to take up a post at a South African institution.

Dr Ismail Cassimjee
Vascular surgeon, Dr Ismail Cassimjee, was the 2014 recipient of the Hamilton Naki Clinical Scholarship. He is currently studying towards his PhD as an academic surgeon at Oxford University in the United Kingdom.

Dr Simnikwe Mayaphi
Virologist, Dr Simnikwe Mayaphi, was one of two scholarship recipients in 2015. His area of study is the detection and characterisation of acute and early HIV-1 infections in an HIV hyper-endemic area. He is based at the University of Pretoria.

Dr Llewellyn Padayachy
Neurosurgeon, Dr Llewellyn Padayachy, was also awarded the scholarship in 2015. Dr Padayachy is currently at Oxford University where he is studying the use of magnetic resonance imaging, rather than ultrasound, to study the problem of measurement of raised pressure in the brain. The programme has a finite period of one year.

Dr Friedland thanked the members of the Physician Partnerships Trust’s selection committee, representing the medical schools, for their assistance in identifying candidates of high academic calibre who are eligible for the scholarship. “Through matching the ideal academic candidates to the funding provided in terms of the Hamilton Naki Clinical Scholarship, the calibre of South African medical training, innovation and excellence is advancing to new heights. As these promising young specialists continue to expand knowledge in their particular fields, South African medical expertise is nurtured and developed,” he observes.

“As the latest recipients, Dr Heradien and Dr Budree, take up this torch we are certain that they and future recipients of this scholarship will apply their knowledge with distinction and continue to develop their chosen fields of study. We appeal to them to share their knowledge with others, as Hamilton Naki did by training surgeons from around the world in his capacity as a laboratory demonstrator.

“We congratulate the past and present scholars on their achievements and are watching their progress with keen interest, as their work contributes to the advancement of healthcare, both in South Africa and internationally.

“We can never undo the injustices of the past that denied Hamilton Naki and other promising individuals their rightful place in the medical fraternity. However, in honouring their legacy we can continue to invest in today’s talent to facilitate the growth and nurturing of clinical advancement to levels we probably cannot yet conceive of,” concluded Dr Friedland.


Issued by:           Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare
Contact:               Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Meggan Saville, or Pieter Rossouw
Telephone:        (011) 469 3016
Email:         ,,, or

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Winner broke burglar bars with his bare hands to save a family from flood

Stories of dedication at Netcare 911 Carer of the Year 2016 awards

Friday, December 2 2016

A paramedic who made headlines after wading through floodwater and breaking burglar bars with his bare hands in order to save five children, four women and a dog, has been named Netcare 911’s Carer of the Year.

"Pictured: (Left to right) Netcare 911 chief operating officer Craig Grindell, chief executive officer Noeleen Phillipson, Netcare 911 Carer of the Year winner advanced life support paramedic Avi Lange, and regional operations manager of Netcare 911 helicopter emergency medical service (HEMS) Deon Swart."

“At Netcare 911, care is at the centre of everything we stand for, which is why the Netcare 911 Carer of the Year awards is a very special event for us. The nominees are individuals who have stood out for going beyond the call of duty to care for members of the public who are in need of a helping hand,” explains Craig Grindell, Netcare 911’s chief operating officer.

“Each year Netcare 911 calls for nominations to acknowledge staff members who have demonstrated the company ethos of exceptional care in often extremely difficult circumstances. This year’s nominees each showed their care through making a meaningful difference in the lives of others.

“This year, we are delighted to congratulate advanced life support paramedic, Avi Lange, of the Netcare 911 base at Netcare Linksfield Hospital, on being selected as our 2016 Carer of the Year. Avi showed selfless determination and bravery in assisting members of the public who were trapped by rising floodwater after heavy rains in Johannesburg on an afternoon earlier in November 2016.”

On that day, Avi had attended to people who were in a motor vehicle accident and was on his way back to the Netcare 911 base, when his progress was blocked by a number of flooded roads. He noticed a man who appeared distressed and immediately asked whether he could be of any assistance. The man explained that his wife and children were trapped in their home in a nearby complex.

“With the help of another Good Samaritan, Avi rescued two women and a dog from the rising waters at one unit in the complex. A second house in the complex presented a more challenging scenario, as a woman and five children were trapped inside with no means of escape,” Grindell explains.

Through a window, Avi reassured them that he was there to help them to safety. The floodwater was rising higher and higher, however, and time was of the essence.

A floating piece of wood in the flood debris came to hand, and Avi used it to smash the glass of the window but the burglar bars still stood between him and the desperate family. Avi later recalled how a surge of pure adrenaline suddenly gave him the strength to break the burglar bars with his bare hands and assist the woman and children to safety. Finally, Avi rescued an elderly woman who was also in distress due to the sudden flooding.

“Avi’s actions are indicative of true caring, and we applaud him for his bravery and tireless dedication to helping others. Our other Netcare 911 Carer of the Year nominees have all demonstrated their care for others in various ways, and we are proud of their service to society,” Grindell concludes.


Basic life support paramedic, Baboh Hlabisa, who is based at Netcare 911’s base at Netcare The Bay Hospital in Richards Bay, was nominated for the outstanding care he showed when he came across an accident scene while driving to Durban on the N2 highway while off duty. Baboh had very limited resources but set to work immediately to make the scene secure and directed concerned bystanders as to how they could best help him to assist the people who had sustained injuries. He did everything possible to treat the injured, even improvising an airway-preserving device out of cardboard, and continued to assist even when the emergency medical services arrived.

Advanced life support paramedic, Cindy Doncabe, based at Netcare 911’s base at Netcare Pholoso Hospital in Polokwane, earned her nomination for assisting an underprivileged young man to fulfil his dream of studying engineering. The young man first came to Cindy’s attention in 2013 when he was seeking piecework to earn money for his studies. Cindy helped him within her means, sometimes giving him some money and at other times simply sharing her lunch with him. This year the young man visited Cindy and again asked for money – this time in order to hire a graduation gown as he had completed his studies.

Netcare 911 regional operations manager for the Free State, Graeme Ruder, was nominated for his efforts to continue the legacy of care begun by his late colleague and former Carer of the Year finalist, Maria Machogo. Before her death, Maria had collected donations for an underprivileged teenage boy with severe Down’s syndrome living with his grandmother.

Sadly, Maria died not long after her kind and community-spirited gesture but her colleague Graeme was determined to continue her legacy of care.  He initiated a charity drive, whereby the Netcare 911 Welkom base collected donations of food and money for the young man and his grandmother, and at the end of August, accompanied by Maria’s daughter, they delivered the goods to the family. Through Graeme’s caring gesture supported by his and Maria’s colleagues, her memory will live on and make a difference in the lives of others.

“Netcare 911 management would like to thank each of the nominees for inspiring all of us to new heights of caring. Each of us has the potential to make a meaningful impact if we recognise such opportunities and act upon them. Whether these gestures are great or small, collectively they can make a significant impression on society,” Grindell concluded.


Issued by:    Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare 911
Contact:    Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Meggan Saville, or Pieter Rossouw
Telephone:    (011) 469 3016
Email:,,, or


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