In June 2020, as maternity services at Dora Nginza Hospital came close to collapsing as staff shortages spiked and the hospital became overwhelmed, a small team of doctors kept things going for several days and nights.

As nurses and general assistants at Dora Nginza Hospital in Port Elizabeth left or fell ill, the doctors manned surgical theatres, cleaned, consoled and delivered babies. “We decided that if we had to die, we would die in the line of duty,” the head of the department of Gynaecology and Obstetrics at Dora Nginza Hospital, Dr Mfundo Mabenge said. This week, three of the doctors who kept the service going passed their exams to qualify as specialists.

Professor Mfundo Mabenge at the Dora Nginza hospital in Port Elizabeth.( Photo: Theo Jeptha)

Three of Mabenge’s team were still studying for their final exams and wrote their papers in the middle of the crisis, and another had recently qualified in January 2020. “All of them passed,” he said. “We have now produced 10 specialists in this department. I did give them a day off to study,” he laughed.

His newly qualified team of specialists were working at his side throughout the crisis when the obstetrics and…

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