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Youngest African Medical Doctor at 21: Meet Dr. Thakgalo Thibela

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Dr. Thakgalo Thibela is a 21-year-old the Youngest African Medical Doctor from Mpumalanga, South Africa.


Dr. Thakgalo Thibela, the Youngest African Medical Doctor, obtained her Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery degree on the 17th of December, 2020, from Witwatersrand University and is currently the youngest Active Doctor on the IN registry, according to Priscilla Sekhonyana of The Health Practice Council of South Africa (HPCSA).

Becoming the Youngest African Medical Doctor is not an easy feat even at a more advanced age because of the enormous work. For Thibela, however, one thing that kept her going was her love for the profession; even on those days she experienced some emotional setbacks due to her age, she kept going.

Her Background Story

Thakgalo Thibela was born prematurely at just six months due to her mother’s medical complications while pregnant.

She was born in the small village of Violet Bank in Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga. Thibela’s motivation for helping others was sparked when her mother recounted her birth story.


Her Early Academic Life

Thakgalo Thibela has always shown her academic prowess right from primary school, and this earned her double promotion; She attended the Farel primary school. While in grade 6, she was transferred to Lehlasedi High School, where she started grade 8 instead of 7 due to her academic performance

She was then promoted from grade 8 to grade 10 at Lehlasedi High School, where they found out that she had outgrown the grade due to her level of knowledge and intelligence.

Her dream almost shattered when she didn’t perform very well in grade 11. This made studying extra hard for her upcoming matric examination at age 15.

She attended all the extra classes and studied throughout the night with her friends. This paid off and ended up with 7 out of 8 distinctions in matric,” which made her among the best students—making her dream to study medicine come to reality.

Her Journey Through The University: Prelude to Become the Youngest African Medical Doctor

Due to her excellent performance in the matric examination, she was given a scholarship by a company partnered with Lehlasedi High School to sponsor the top learner every year, Industrial Development Corporation (IDC).

On her way to becoming the Youngest African Medical Doctor, Thibela got admitted into the University of Witwatersrand at 16 for a 6-year degree in the Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery.

She had several obstacles due to her young age, one of which was low self-esteem since she found it difficult communicating with her classmates. Because of this, the out-of-classroom clinical experience was challenging for her since she had to introduce herself to patients.

Her parents also played an essential role in her academics. They provided her with all the needed materials and study guides that helped her focus on her studies to be a Medical Doctor, making Thibela and her family proud.

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Dr. Thakgalo Thibela, Source Edward Asare

Her Journey as the Youngest African Medical Doctor

For Thibela, who grew up in Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga, becoming a medical doctor was a dream come true.

So far, she has been awarded the Golden Key International membership, which is presented to academically outstanding students worldwide. She is now undergoing a two-year internship at Auckland Park’s Helen Joseph Hospital, which she began in 2021.

“What I’m doing in the hospital is a lot of fun for me.” “At the same time, I’m getting clinical experience and having my theoretical knowledge reinforced,” she added.”

She also said that what she loves about her job is that people never refused to be checked by her ” Instead, they are pleasantly surprised and inquire about my age before complimenting me on becoming a doctor at such a young age.”

When asked about her future ambition, she revealed that she would also want to own her clinic in the next 10-15 years.

She can give back to the community, especially where she comes from in Violet Bank.

Youngest African Medical Doctor: In Closing

Thibela advises young girls to be determined to achieve their dreams irrespective of their background.

She wants to inspire people back home as a black woman from a rural region, as what she has managed to achieve is a significant deal.

It’s also a message to all young females that we can be whomever we want.

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Precious Ogar, RPh

Precious Ogar, RPh

I am a registered pharmacist and graduate student of Saint Louis University, Baguio. I am from Nigeria, the largest country in West Africa. I’m currently residing in the chilly city of Baguio, Philippines. Follow me on Twitter @PreciousOgar_
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