Tribute to Prof Eddie Xijekana Mhlanga. February 7, 2022

It is with a great sadness that SASOG has learnt of the untimely passing of Prof Eddie Xijekana Mhlanga.

Tributes have poured in from within the progressive health community, citing Bra Eddie as a longstanding, ever-committed, health comrade and leader.  He was a gentle soul with strong principles who was not afraid to speak truth to power.

Our SASOG colleagues and those who had been mentored by him remember a humble, much-loved colleague and a dedicated obstetrician who leaves a huge vacuum in our discipline.

 

Below are some of the tributes that have been paid to Prof Mhlanga.

The passing of Prof Mhlanga is a great loss to the medical fraternity, especially in these turbulent times when men and women of his caliber and dedication are much needed to fast track the processes of change and impact.

He is remembered as a stalwart and the epitome of humility, empathy and selflessness who has left us too soon.  Prof Mhlanga was one of South Africas leading advocates for womens rights to reproductive health care, and access for women to safe and legal abortion providers is an issue he was very passionate about.

 

Prof Eddie Mhlanga was an Obstetrician and Gynaecologist who was a provincial Specialist in Mpumalanga. He was previously Chief Director of Maternal, Child & Womens Health, National Department of Health. He was past Head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, UKZN. Eddie made an incredible contribution to healthcare equality and, in particular, to womens health. He will not be forgotten for his steadfast and brave stance on reproductive and abortion rights, for health leadership and for his activism. Eddie was a true gentleman and a much-loved colleague to many who he mentored.

 

As Womens and Child Health advocate, he was instrumental in the implementation of the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act and the Notification of Maternal Deaths. He was a member of the S A Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (SASOG).  He was a major leader in maternal health – caring about his colleagues and very committed. He was the current Chairperson of the National Committee on the Confidential Enquiry into Maternal Deaths.

 

Prof Mhlanga served on the FIGO (International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics) Task Team on the Prevention of Unsafe Abortion. As director of Maternal, Child and Womens Health for the Department of Health, Dr. Mhlanga was instrumental in helping implement the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act (1996).

From a very young age, Dr. Mhlanga knew he wanted to care for people as a Physician, a goal that seemed impossible, but one he managed to achieve and beyond. Since 2013, Prof Mhlanga has been the co-Lead Doctor for Global Doctors for Choice, a network of Physicians around the world who advocate for access to safe reproductive health care.

He served on the FIGO (International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics) Task Team on the Prevention of Unsafe Abortion.  He was the past-head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Prof Mhlanga was formerly the Chief Director of the Maternal, Child, and Womens Health Unit of South Africas National Department of Health. Dr. Mhlanga was a past board member of Ipas and served the WHO, UNFPA, UNICEF, FIGO and IPPF in various capacities over the years.

Prof Mhlanga was instrumental in helping implement the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act (1996) and has never stopped being a safe abortion provider. He was the current Provincial Specialist of Obstetrics and Gynecology for the Department of Health for Mpumalanga province and provided clinical care in a low resource setting.

 As a young doctor, Prof Mhlanga quickly realised that there was a vast need for child health and obstetric services across South Africa and especially its rural areas. He believed that Every death of a woman is a major event. He believed that people need to stop and sa, “What happened?’” This was reinforced when he watched a nurse colleague die from septic abortion (in which an abortion or miscarriage is following by a uterine infection that spreads to the blood). Experiencing this reaffirmed his belief that women dont have to die due to lack of appropriate services and reproductive choice and this is what has driven his work

Prof Mhlanga was an exemplar to all. He was a wonderful human being, highly principled and independent minded, yet humble and dedicated to the public service.  He will be sorely missed in very many ways, especially his infectious smile.

 

The greatest tribute to him must be for those left behind to try to match the humility of one of South Africa’s finest professionals.

Our heartfelt condolences to Lindi, his girls and all the family

Hamba Kahle, Mfowethu Eddie

MHSRIEP

 

 

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