Junior-Mkhombo (1) The young student from Thulamahashe in Mpumalanga is now among 60 young South Africans who secured a spot in the country's first post-apartheid school of medicine. Mkhombo and his classmates were honoured with laboratory coats by provincial health MEC Dr Phophi Ramathuba at the University of Limpopo (UL) on Friday. The university's school of medicine, which opened this year, is the ninth in the country. The government has set aside R10-million to pay for the tuition of all 60 students in anticipation that they will assist in solving some of the country's health problems. Dressed in his white coat a proud Mkhombo, who passed Grade 12 from Orhovelani High School with seven distinctions, said he looked forward to serving his country. "I have a special interest in oncology because cancer is a big thing and it needs to be treated," he said. While still at school Mkhombo was promoted twice in midyear - in Grades four and eight - which explains why he completed high school early. "We didn't have a library. We had a laboratory but it was just a lab by name. It didn't have resources. But we had very dedicated teachers," he said. He said his favourite teacher, Richard Walusimbi, encouraged them to work hard. "He is a great man." Mkhombo said his eagerness to rise above challenges such as substance abuse that trouble the youth from his home village pushed him to work harder. His parents are teachers. In 2014 Dr Sandile Kubheka made history by becoming the youngest person to qualify as a doctor in the country, at 21. National health department spokesman Joe Maila said Mkhombo could be the youngest medical student. However, Maila said he could not confirm this because he had not seen records from other universities. "It is inspiring to see young people doing well academically to a point of getting admitted at the medical school at 15 years of age," Maila said. Ramathuba urged the students not to abandon rural communities that suffered because of the shortage of doctors. Another student, Thabang Legodi, 19, from GaMashashane in Limpopo said he was looking forward to becoming a neurologist so that he could treat diseases related to the brain and spinal cord among other things. Legodi said people from his area travelled far to get medical assistance. Their nearest hospital in Seshego had a shortage of doctors, said Legodi. - Source: Sowetan

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