The Umthombo Youth Development Foundation seeks to address the shortages of healthcare staff at participating rural hospitals in KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape Provinces. This is achieved through the identification and support of rural youth who have the potential, and interest in becoming healthcare providers. We invest in rural youth because they are more likely on graduation to live and work in rural areas than urban youth.
In return for the opportunity given these youth they are required on graduation to work at their local rural hospital for the same number of years they were supported for.
In this regard, over 20 years we have produced 578 graduates covering 19 different health science disciplines, of which 221 are doctors. Further, 54% of graduates, and 51% of doctors are young women.
Ninety-eight percent of our graduates have honoured their work back obligations thus addressing staff shortages, and in some cases have established new, or improved existing, services. Sixty five percent of graduates with no further work back obligations continue to work in rural areas, confirming that our investment in rural youth is a good strategy.
Our main intervention is the provision of academic and social mentoring support to our rural students. A critical component of this support is to hold them accountable to address their challenges early in the academic year. Despite all our students coming from non-fee paying, quintile 1 & 2 rural schools, through our academic and social mentoring support programme, our students have achieved a 92% annual university pass rate over the past 10 years, which 90% of them graduating.