MULTIFACETED: Dr Sivuyile Madikana is garnering accolades on both the health and fashion fronts. Picture: Instagram
‘Leadership and health are in safe hands in young people,” said Dr Sivuyile Madikana in his acceptance speech at Sun City this week.

Madikana, one of the youngest public health specialists in SA, had just been announced as the winner of the Titanium Young Achievers Award at the 19th Board of Healthcare Funders (BHF) Conference. The awards are aimed at recognising and acknowledging excellence in the public and private healthcare sectors in southern Africa.

Madikana’s award comes at a time when the spotlight is shone on young people in SA as the country observes Youth Month and celebrates young achievers with the hope of inspiring others to reach their potential.

“The competition was tough. Two other young people, who were nominated with me, were exceptionally good and I’m honoured to have received it,” said Madikana, who currently lives in New York where he is a master of public health candidate at New York University, specialising in health-care management and policy.

Madikana is confident that young people will take the baton of leadership and healthcare to another level.

The young doctor is very passionate about bringing health education to young people in platforms that are easily accessible, such as social media.

He founded and manages a health initiative, #VarsityConvos, whose target audience is students at institutions of higher learning. The initiative was established last year and uses both digital media and live discussions to facilitate dialogues about health issues, specifically HIV/Aids, social justice and other issues affecting students.

Apart from his passion for health and his constant conversations that are advocating a healthy lifestyle, this young physician is also a fashionista.

He was announced as one of GQ’s top 10 best-dressed South African men and is listed as one of South Africa’s top 200 young people last year.

His style has been described as classy and sophisticated with a touch of the modern use of African print.

We caught up with him shortly after he accepted his award to understand what the award means and get to know him better.

Who is Dr Madikana and what is your latest research project?

I am a medical doctor with varying special interests within healthcare, but my latest obsession has been around deployment of health through digital technologies. Currently, I am a master of public health candidate specialising in health management and policy at New York University.

My research is on the use of digital communication and innovation for youth engagement in HIV. Basically, I have been looking at how we could use the everyday tools young people are using such as social media and other digital applications, for health promotion and to bring awareness around HIV. My aim is to reduce the spread of HIV in the youth.

What are the challenges for South African youth in the health sector?

The biggest problem faced by young South Africans within the health sector is access to quality and reliable information.

I was very surprised by how little some of the students I engaged with at higher education institutions knew about health matters that affect them. There is definitely a need for us as the health sector to communicate much better.

What does your latest award mean to you?

The Titanium Young Achievers Award is a great recognition from the health sector that as young people we are doing something right. It is a motivation for me to continue working hard and challenge the status quo.

Why it is important for medical doctors to be more than just doctors?

We are multifaceted individuals and I have always been of the mindset that we should explore all our dreams and abilities. Stretch the envelope and see how capable we are.

I think that’s what this generation of medical professionals is starting to see, that you can have more than one thing in life. A maverick of note, a dreamer, an explorer.

Pursuing all that makes one happy is a sure way of living a full and productive life.

What can we expect from you in the future?

Thinking about the future excites me. There are so many possibilities to explore.

However, I am definitely coming back to South Africa.

I will be working in the space of digital health and figuring out how we could use technology to advance the health agenda for all South Africans.

Young people should take the future into their hands.

Continue working with intention and purpose and the world will catch up.