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History of Mseleni Hospital

Mseleni hospital is in the Ubombo District offering community and hospital services to a population of 72 000 people.

The Missionaries who came to Mseleni in 1908 had a vision of helping the sick, and training the youth and adults as enrolled nurses. There were no ambulances so patients were transported to hospital on a slip drawn by a team of oxen. The hospital began as a mission project in 1936 by South African General Mission.  In the beginning, a nurse ran a dispensary and a few beds for patients who were very sick.  One missionary nurse began an orphanage.  Doctors from Bethesda used to do visits and patients who needed urgent surgery were sent to Bethesda by plane.


Patients being brought to the hospital on a slip drawn by a team of oxen

Emergency cases such as maternity cases, snake bites victims and malaria cases were fetched by plane from the Mission station.

The first missionary registered Nurse Barbara Stevens came from Canada in July 1945 and was joined by Miss Norah Farley in 1950 who was qualified as a Registered Nurse and a registered Midwife.

The hospital was taken over by the KwaZulu Department of Health and Welfare with effect from 1 June 1978.


The patient was loaded into the plane but before Harold Stevens had started up, the baby was born.
Not all patients were fortunate enough to have beds some patients slept on grass mats on the floor with a blanket over them.
The present medical Superintendent arrived in June 1981 to date.

The hospital buildings were improved and number of nurses increased. The community then started to accept Western medicine, as they believed in traditional healers. Prevailing diseases were malnutrition, T.B. worms, diarrhoea, obstetric disorders, Mseleni joint Diseases (MJD) etc. The hospital was mostly managed by the doctor.

There are 8 clinics under Mseleni hospital.  The first residential clinic was opened at Mbazwane in 1981.  Nibela clinic was donated shortly afterwards by Anglo American and De Beers.  The Department of Health in 1983 built Tshongwe clinic.  Mduku and Mnqobokazi clinics were built in the early 90's.   Mduku as a joint of Phinda and the IDT project.  RDP resulted in three more clinics being built: Manaba, Oqondweni and Mabibi.

In 1982 Mseleni  was one of the first hospitals in KwaZulu administration to introduce Rifampicillin into its TB treatment schedule  and started short course TB treatment.  Since the arrival of the first doctor at Mseleni the phenomena of Mseleni Joint Disease had been identified and reported in professional journals.  In the 80's regular surgery was done at Ladysmith Provincial hospital.  In 1994 surgery commenced at Mseleni hospital.

In 1990 the hospital supported the local development in the community by involvement in a joint piped water project, which eventually fed up to 15 000 people the 15km radius around the hospital.

In 1997 Mseleni set up a Health professional students promotion project (a concept later adopted by friends of Mosvold and the district and later the Province) and  a loan fund established under the community development group.  Each year students have gone to study medicine or other related disciplines.

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