Sister Yolanda and her husband Dr Vincent Mpilo.
Professional nurse and social entrepreneur Yolanda Mpilo has carved her niche in the medical field by providing maternal and child health care to those who are deprived of it.

After she had completed her training at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital she noticed a lack of quality healthcare for mothers and children who were frequenting public hospitals.

She then decided to do something about it by studying further and coming up with a solution.

That’s how the Mother and Child Clinic in Makhado, Limpopo was born.

Her clinic is one of the few privately-owned clinics in rural South Africa.

The clinic focuses on both maternal and children’s health such as postnatal care, breastfeeding education, and pap smears.

Her clinic comes at a time of need as the country battles with maternal mortality.

According to Unicef, every year 4 300 mothers in South Africa die due to complications of pregnancy and childbirth.

About 20 000 babies are stillbirths while another 23 000 die in their first month of life.

In total, 75 000 children don’t make it to their fifth birthdays.

Mpilo said that nursing was not her first choice of career because of the long hours; she later changed her mind and now finds it a fulfilling job.

Her aim is to support women physically and mentally throughout and after their pregnancy. Over the years she also started a self-funded support group aimed at improving the lives of teenagers living with HIV/AIDS in South Africa.

The group’s aim is to empower teenagers and help them protect their health and well-being in order to pursue their dreams.

The passionate and energetic Mpilo spoke about her choice of career.

Who are you and where are you in terms of your career?

I was born in KwaZulu-Natal in a small town called Utrecht. I’m a mother and wife.

I’m a highly focused and a knowledgeable midwife with experience of providing a high standard of midwifery care within a hospital setting and in a private clinic.

I started my professional career at Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital in 2006 after completing my diploma in nursing.

I went to study further at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital and completed my post graduate diploma in Midwifery and Neonatal Nursing Sciences in 2008.

How does your clinic work?

We are a private clinic, yet we offer cost-effective services meaning that our consultation fees are lower than our competitors. We offer more for the value of money. We do cash payments and medical aids.

Our main objective as healthcare entrepreneurs is to provide quality healthcare services while building a self-sustainable business that will be able to grow and expand into other rural areas.

What inspired the private clinic?

I worked as a pharmaceutical adviser for a year.

I actually knew that wasn’t what I wanted to do. One day I just called my husband and told him I was quitting work and I want to work with patients again... just not in a hospital setting.

I strongly believe in kindness... your status in life should never influence how people treat you.

That’s one of the reasons why I wanted to open my clinic because I wanted to have all the time with a patient and not worry about the long queues outside. I also wanted to focus on rural health because that’s where healthcare is most in need.

Why did you venture into healthcare?

My mom was a nurse and she worked long hours. We hardly saw her. Fortunately enough, I had a dad who was hands-on and did everything for us. I never wanted to be a nurse even though my mom encouraged me to become one.

I fell in love with the profession while studying and my purpose on earth was actually unleashed when I went through the wards and interacted with the patients.

What are some of the daily struggles that your clinic faces?

There are well-established doctors in the area, mostly GPs whom the patients have been using for years. But, some of the doctors are threatened by the clinic, even though my clinic could actually work well with them, as we provide supportive services to them.

Funding is always a problem because business people don’t invest in social entrepreneurs, it’s a new concept in South Africa and I’m hoping I’m paving the way for other nurses not to suffer like I did when I started off.

Any parting words?

The community needs to make use of private nurse practitioners, we are highly skilled and and knowledgeable graduates. The government also need to recognise the need of working and involving private nurse practitioners in executing their written policies.