Dr Phale Phillemon Machacha grew up as a sickly child. The lack of doctors in his hometown of Burgersfort in Limpopo meant that no one could detect what was wrong with him. He was later diagnosed with hydronephrosis, the swelling of a kidney because of a build-up of urine. He spent his childhood dreaming of finding a cure for his illness.
Many years later, he is saving lives and also finds pleasure in bringing new life into the world by delivering babies. Seeing dying patients being brought back to life and hearing the positive remarks from families of patients who he has helped is what drives him to excel as a medical doctor. Machacha’s illness as a child, lack of doctors and long queues at hospitals sparked his interest into medicine at a young age. He got a scholarship to study medicine in Cuba and returned to work for St Ritas hospital and Maphutha Maphutha L Malatji hospital, both in Limpopo. At St Ritas hospital he received an award for the best medical intern.
But even though his work was impressive at both hospitals his heart yearned to go back and work in his hometown. The opportunity eventually presented itself, and Machacha now works for Mecklenburg hospital in Burgersfort. At 34, he was appointed as the hospital’s chief executive. He has also been recognised by the Limpopo department of education for having reduced the maternal mortality rate in the province. Machacha was raised by a single, unemployed mother but he says this did not stop him from dreaming and aiming for the stars.
“It doesn’t matter your socioeconomic status; it doesn’t matter whether you are an orphan, hard work always pays,” he says. “You can be anything you want, irrespective of your socioeconomic status.”