The Doctor Is In
Dr. Mathobela Matjekane is a medical doctor turned entrepreneur with a passion for taking primary healthcare into areas where it is needed most. When Covid-19 hit she embarked on a successful campaign to decode the virus for the man on the street, cementing her position as a trailblazer in healthcare.
Dr. Matjekane’s passion for healthcare started at an early age watching her mother work in the industry. “I grew up in Limpopo, in a small town called Linyenye, in Tzaneen. My inspiration growing up was watching my mom work as a healthcare worker. She was a nurse in the community and I saw how much people admired and respected her for her profession. I concluded that the honour and respect she received must have come from helping people. So, I knew then that whatever work I do, it has to be about helping people.”
After securing an (MBCH) UCT, a Diploma in HIV/Aids Management and Certificate in Aesthetics’ Management and a short stint in public healthcare as a community doctor and senior medical practitioner Dr. Matjekane set out to bridge the gap between private and public healthcare by founding CliniMed in 2008.
“Initially, it is was a general practice which started operating in Khayelitsha Mall. Over the years and through research, it has developed into a one-stop healthcare clinic across three branches in the Western Cape. We increased our offering to more than primary healthcare and have added optometry, dentistry, wellness programmes, and aesthetics to our services” she explains.
Through CliniMed Dr Matjekane hopes to educate the communities she operates in about the importance of prioritising their health. “CliniMed is designed for the people. The dream is to have people walk into any of our branches and feel the energy of being at a healthcare facility where their health will be prioritised.
“I have been to places that make you feel like just a number or overwhelmed. I want healthcare to be less daunting but for people to make theirs a priority. Have the relationship of annual checkups even when they are not sick or have any pains or symptoms.”
This is part of the reason the doctor added wellness programmes to CliniMed’s service offering. “Our wellness programmes focus on promoting a preventative and management approach to health. We offer weight loss programmes to prevent and manage obesity, HIV/Aids chronic programme to maintain a well-balanced life, and screenings for cancer as well as a baby clinic service.”
Dr. Matjekane’s passion for educating communities was out in full force when the Covid-19 pandemic hit South African shores and the country went into lockdown. “In the beginning, we had no idea what this virus was or how to treat it and it was taking our patients and loved ones daily. Like everyone else we panicked but soon realised that it wasn’t helping. People come to us for help, so imagine if where they seek help is also where their fears would be heightened.”
Being on the frontline Dr. Matjekane and her team soon established that many people didn’t understand what the lockdown meant and why it was necessary to help curb the spread of the virus. This is how Decoding Covid-19 was born.
“We had patients with Covid-19 symptoms walk into our branches. This would place other patients seeking assistance for non-Covid-19 related issues at risk. We could see that it was business as usual in the majority of the areas we operate in and so we thought, what can we do to play our part in this global crisis?”
The campaign which set out to create content and videos around the virus in as many of the country's official languages as possible proved to be a success and Dr. Matjekane says the feedback they received from people was positive.
“We started speaking to people in their languages and using terminology that would resonate. We used our social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and distributing the videos on our WhatsApp groups. We immediately saw the difference in how people received the information and acted with caution.”
With a third wave approaching Dr. Matjekane, who contracted Covid-19 twice while working on the frontline, is calling on people not to take the risk of contracting and spreading the virus lightly.
Looking ahead, Dr Matjekane says the vision for CliniMed is constantly evolving as it is influenced by the ever-changing needs of the community and the people they serve.
“We offer accessible, good quality healthcare that is consistent in all the areas of our operation, regardless of demographics. We want to see growth and development. We want to expand to other provinces and collaborate with other doctors. To offer a wider range of services including psychology and psychiatry. To grow this brand to a hospital group.”