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Melissa Mungroo - Balancing medicine and passion for empowerment

Dr Nompumelelo NkosiNtombela, affectionately known as Dr Lelo, is not your typical medical practitioner. At 30 years old, she embodies a unique blend of healing hands and a heart dedicated to social change.

Born and raised in Mandeni, the UKZN alumnus’s journey to becoming a medical doctor was marked by challenges and triumphs. Growing up in a family of five siblings, she was instilled with values of respect, humility, and patience – qualities she continues to carry with her today. Her academic journey began at Mandeni Academy and later led her to Stanger High School in KwaDukuza, where she excelled as head girl and received accolades for her outstanding academic achievements.

Upon completing her matric, Nkosi-Ntombela embarked on her medical education at the prestigious Nelson Mandela School of Medicine at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN). However, her passion
for the entertainment industry initially cast a shadow on her medical aspirations. Despite her inner conflict, she persevered, fuelled by the unwavering support of her family, especially her parents, who encouraged her to pursue both medicine and her creative endeavours.

Throughout her medical school years, she juggled her studies with auditions, modelling gigs, and dance performances, showcasing her determination to excel in multiple spheres. Despite facing financial hurdles, she refused to let obstacles deter her dreams. Thanks to the support of the Office of the Premier bursary scheme, Nkosi-Ntombela was able to navigate the financial challenges and focus on her studies.

Reflecting on her time at UKZN, she acknowledges the academic rigours of medical school but highlights the need for comprehensive training beyond the traditional curriculum. She advocates for
greater emphasis on practical skills such as running a medical practice, managing finances, and prioritising mental health – a topic close to her heart.

After graduating with her Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery (MBCHB), she founded Lelani Private Clinic in Pietermaritzburg, a testament to her entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to providing
holistic healthcare services. The clinic boasts a multidisciplinary team offering a range of medical
specialties, including aesthetics and mental health support.

Beyond her clinical practice, Nkosi-Ntombela is the driving force behind the Dr Lelo Nkosi Foundation, an NGO dedicated to empowering young girls and tackling social issues such as teenage pregnancy. Through initiatives like the Ngimuhle Campaign, she aims to instil confidence in disadvantaged youth and provide essential support to vulnerable communities.

Nkosi-Ntombela reflects on the poignant moments she encounters daily in her medical practice. Despite the challenges, including the loss of patients, she finds solace in the meaningful connections she forms with her patients. From shared tears to shared laughter, she cherishes the human moments that transcend the clinical setting. Whether it’s the simple joy of a child’s visit or the pride in seeing a mentee succeed, these interactions remind her of the profound impact she has on the lives of others.

Her passion for adolescent care and lifestyle medicine is evident in her ongoing pursuit of knowledge and involvement in public health initiatives. She recently embarked on a Diploma in Advanced Aesthetic Medicine and remains committed to addressing the unique healthcare needs of adolescents – a population often overlooked in traditional medical settings.

Despite the challenges she faces, Nkosi-Ntombela remains steadfast in her dedication to making a difference in the healthcare landscape. Her advice to aspiring medical students echoes her own journey – ‘never give up, seek help when needed, and prioritise self-care above all else’.

As she looks to the future, she envisions a healthcare system where empowerment, prevention, and compassion are at the forefront. With her unwavering determination and compassionate spirit, NkosiNtombela is not just a doctor; she’s a beacon of hope and change in her community and

Nkosi-Ntombela advocates for continued support and donations to ensure the UKZN Foundation’s sustainability and its ongoing mission to empower students and to break down barriers to success.

“The UKZN Foundation is a game changer. It provides financial resources to its students which closes many gaps and creates a better learning platform for students, fighting food insecurity and many
other social ill related issues. I encourage people to donate in whichever way they can to help the Foundation raise funds for worthy student and university causes and projects.’’

T: +27 (0)31 260 2389

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