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USAID TB South Africa Project manager celebrated for International Nurses Day

31 May 2020

Celebrating our #HealthHeroes: Umthombo nursing graduates make a big difference in society

From taxi driver to professional nurse and TB project leader

Zamani Dlamini
Zamani Dlamini, professional nurse and recognised leader in the fight against TB

“I come from a small village called Mpembeni-Sovane in Hlabisa where we still share the river with cows and donkeys,” says 37-year-old Zamani Dlamini, the KwaZulu-Natal provincial manager for the USAID Tuberculosis South Africa Project in the uMkhanyakude and eThekwini district.

“In 1999 when I was in grade 11, my grandmother was diabetic and I took her to the clinic and hospital every month. I was inspired when the nurses educated her on how to control her blood sugar, give herself insulin injections and care for the septic wound on her left foot. There was no one at home to care for her, so I did it. That’s where my passion for helping others developed.”

“I finished my matric in 2000 and there was no money to study,” Zamani continues. “I became a taxi driver for four years at Hlabisa taxi rank but my dream of becoming a nurse was always there. One day, a nurse got in my taxi and told me about Umthombo at Hlabisa Hospital. She told me that I could volunteer at the hospital for a week under my chosen discipline.”

“That afternoon, I went to the hospital and met Dumisani Gumede who was a coordinator for the Umthombo scholarship programme. He explained everything and I started volunteering at Hlabisa Hospital’s outpatient department for one week and ended up staying for four weeks. I started seeing myself as a nurse who could help people where I come from.”

Umthombo gave him a scholarship and Zamani earned a bachelor of nursing science degree from the University of Zululand in 2011 with distinction. He also has a bachelor’s degree in nursing education and administration, a postgraduate diploma in primary healthcare, and is doing his master’s degree in public health at the University of Johannesburg. He aspires to have a PhD in public health in five years.

Zamani plays an active role in raising community awareness on the spread of TB infections. “TB remains the number one killer disease in South Africa and there is a lot that needs to be done,” he says. “The TB South Africa Project is helping to reduce TB infections with the goal to end TB once and for all.” He says the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the need for education and prevention of both conditions in communities.

In 2019, Zamani presented on the importance of interpersonal communication and counselling in TB management at the 50th Union World Conference on Lung Health in India. And in 2014, he won the International Council of Nurses’ Leading Lights Award for making a significant improvement in the fight against TB.

“Thank you to Umthombo for giving me a real chance in life. I cannot forget the opportunity that was given to me, and I promise a lot is still coming.”