Thato Mosehle may have been crowned second runner-up in the Miss Supranational pageant held this weekend, but Dr Mosehle is ready to be at the forefront of the Covid-19 battle in Mzansi.
Mosehle made history as the first South African contestant to compete in the international pageant.
“From a very young age I have always been this well-rounded, multifaceted child who actually quite enjoyed balancing many things and academics and something creative. When I became a doctor, I always had this dream of becoming Miss South Africa and representing my country internationally.”
The North West resident obtained her MB, ChB degree at the University of the Free State in 2018. At the time of the Miss South Africa pageant, she was working as a medical doctor.
She completed her internship at the Klerksdorp-Tshepong Hospital complex in March this year, working as a frontline worker during the Covid-19 pandemic.
She aspires to become an anaesthesiologist one day. She launched her weekly #ChooseDay online talk show this year to share her medical knowledge.
Health For Mzansi invited her for a heart-to-heart.
HFM: Let’s get right into it with your health talk series, #ChooseDay with Dr Thato. How did that journey begin?
The Miss South Africa organisation sort of pushed me into it. I was so anxious posting the first one because I was like, “I’m just an intern; I’m not a specialist. What are people going to say?”
I started working as a doctor in 2019 and I realised a lot of patients land in hospital because of certain things that they could have prevented.
there’s a lot of diseases that can happen to you without you contributing, but there are many more where patients have contributed to their disease without knowing it.
I always wanted to have a talk show on my Instagram back when I wasn’t even in the public space. I wanted to do it. But I always had this anxiety that I’m such a junior; I only started working; nobody will listen to me; there are more specialised people who would be more qualified to speak about these issues.
And the response was so positive. As an individual, I am trying to contribute to the overall health of society in South Africa, specifically because I realised how many people don’t know what they’re doing and what they could be doing to the detriment of their own health.
Do you think that our diets and the food that we eat could be considered a form of preventative medicine?
In one of my episodes, I highlighted the importance of a healthy, balanced diet. I was talking about diabetes, because sometimes as doctors we are guilty of shoving medicine to people whereas the cause of their diabetes is in their diet. If that is well managed then the disease is gone.
I got a lot of responses where people said that they didn’t have access to a dietician and healthy food is expensive food.
I think people understand what healthy food is, but the real understanding of how to prepare the food and the challenge of accessing the healthy food is still a thing in people’s minds because they would rather buy pap.
Preventative medicine is in the way we live our lives, and especially what we consume in terms of food, but there are challenges also when it comes to that.
And where did your passion for healthcare come from?
I know it sounds cliché, but my passion for healthcare developed from my passion for helping people. I was that child who always wanted to help in whatever way. When I was 14, we had a career expo where they taught us about different careers and I found being a doctor very interesting.
I still remember telling my parents that I wanted to be a doctor. They asked me, “Where have you seen a doctor in our family?” I was like, “Why don’t I be the first?”
It is safe to say that the world has changed. As a frontline worker, how have you managed to keep your family safe and protected from Covid-19? How have you been able to navigate changes brought on by the virus?
I was still living with my mother and when we started having Covid cases, I decided to move out. Knowing that I am in contact with positive patients every day, and going home and hugging my mother who is much older and at risk…I couldn’t live with myself knowing that I’m exposing her, so I moved out.
As a healthcare worker, you have this guilt of you bringing things home and you don’t want to be the reason someone gets severely sick.
We just always need to keep in contact with our loved ones. I taught her how to voice note; how to video call. And my extended family as well. That’s how I’ve been keeping in contact, but every time I come back from work, I take off the scrubs that I’m wearing immediately and put them in the washer. I interact with people if I need to and communicate with my family virtually.
Telemedicine has been a buzzword amid the global pandemic. What is this concept and how do you navigate this space as a frontline worker in Mzansi?
Telemedicine is the ability to have a consultation online instead of a patient having to come all the way to the hospital, potentially exposing themselves and other patients to whatever they may have.
I think in our setting in South Africa there’s still a long way to go.
Although there are platforms that allow patients to sort of send quick estimations about their symptoms, we still don’t have a solid structure to ensure that patients get the most optimal care.
When I was in my undergrad, everything was patient-to-patient. They even had a saying that the only way to learn medicine and to practice medicine is by the bedside of the patient.
A lot of our diagnosis has to do with touching and feeling for certain things, because the patient may struggle to explain what is on their body or what kind of mass it is.
So, it’s always good to touch and explain, but I believe in telemedicine. I just feel like we still need so many more resources and education for us to get there where it would be fully effective.
So, the world has gone a little crazy in terms of anti-vax and pro-vax movements. What is the attitude towards vaccinations in Europe, where you just had your pageant?
When people don’t fully understand something, they are reluctant to receive it. I think there’s more explanations and understanding in Europe than in South Africa. It was so refreshing to be able not to wear a mask because most people are vaccinated. You must still wear one, but outdoors you don’t have to wear a mask, which is amazing because it’s summer; you’re taking pictures outside.
It was quite nice and refreshing to sort of realise that this is the future of Covid if we all move towards a solution.