Taz Emeran-Thomas: Journey of the People’s Doctor

 Taz Emeran-Thomas: Journey of the People’s Doctor

Taz Emeran-Thomas:

Medical Doctor | Health Activist | Solutionist | Keynote Speaker | Teenage Pregnancy Prevention Advocate

Find me on: Linkedin_icon

It’s been a demanding two days for Dr. Taz Emeran-Thomas: from photo shoots to a demo video for healthcare workers, topped off with a trip to Mamelodi. Despite the whirlwind, she maintains a constant smile, only occasionally expressing irritation about her unruly hair.

Seated in her bustling office, we manage a brief interview before rushing off to Mamelodi to meet Dr. Oupa, a medical professional interested in partnering with Med-e-Screen. My first question seems straightforward: “You raised half a million Rand in twenty-four hours. Why?” Dr. Taz’s response brims with excitement. “I love this question – it’s amazing.”

Dr Taz meeting Dr Oupa at his medical practice. IMAGE: Teagan Cloete
Dr Taz meeting Dr Oupa at his medical practice. IMAGE: Teagan Cloete

Taz’s entrepreneurial journey began in her fourth year when she received sponsorship for her medical studies. However, upon completing her final exam in the sixth year, she discovered an outstanding debt to the university, as her sponsor had vanished. Turning to social media for help, she appealed for donations to clear her debt, receiving contributions in small increments of fifty and hundreds. “I feel like people gave me their last to help me pay for my studies. And I feel like I owe it to them – I owe the people. That’s why I am ‘the people’s doctor’.” 

But let’s jump back to the beginning; where did the desire to “become a doctor when I grow up” come from? That’s the second question Dr Taz loves. “I had my son at fifteen” is something not many people will talk about openly. But to Dr Taz, this fearful and uncertain time in her life formed the cornerstone of what she is today. 

The solution is here - Doctor Taz in partnership with Med-e-Screen.
The solution is here - Doctor Taz in partnership with Med-e-Screen.

For three months, Taz watched and waited over her premature son in prenatal care. The doctors came and went doing their rounds, making sure all was well with the tiny souls in their care. But some doctors took the time to make sure the frightened teenager was also okay. “I was surrounded by people who looked like mothers. And I felt like I was just this child. [The doctors] made me feel like a mom.”  

It was there that Taz decided to become a doctor who treated all with dignity and respect. “I knew then that that’s what I wanted to do when I grew up. I didn’t know how, but I knew then.” 

Years later, her son walked her proudly down the aisle at her wedding. 

Dr Taz and her son
A post of Dr Taz and her son that she posted on Instagram - click the image to view her Instagram.

After medical school, Dr Taz joined the 825 unemployed doctors in South Africa. To Dr Taz this made no sense; why have unemployed doctors in a country where there is less than one doctor for every one thousand patients? 

Disturbed by this incongruity, she joined fellow unemployed doctors and led a protest advocating for change, presenting demands to the office of the Presidency. Yet, even after assurances from the department, many doctors remain without employment, leaving patients waiting for hours to receive care.

Dr Taz’s favorite quote is by Toni Morris; If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else. Although now employed, she continues to advocate for her colleagues and patients, driven by a sense of duty to empower others.

Dr Taz writing on cardboard in protest
IMAGE: Teagan Cloete

In her latest endeavor, Taz has teamed up with Med-e-Screen, aiming to connect unemployed doctors with communities in need through the Med-e-Screen back pack. This portable screening kit enables medical practitioners to reach remote areas and promptly diagnose high-risk diseases, ensuring timely intervention.

If Dr. Taz could be summarized in a single sentence, it would be: A woman with a boundless heart, dedicated to serving others with unwavering passion, even if her hair occasionally gets in the way.

 

 

Teagan Cloete

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