October 22, 2021

From South Africa to Melbourne

Last month, Northern Health welcomed Dr Marcelle Jagga and his wife Dr Charlotte Jagga from Cape Town, South Africa.

They were recently invited to speak at the Victorian COVID-19 Press Conference about their move to Melbourne during the pandemic and how they can use their experience of Cape Town’s three COVID-19 waves to contribute to our current outbreak response.

Marcelle is an anaesthetist and Charlotte is an emergency physician.

“I think Australia is really lucky (in the sense) that they had a little bit of buffer and time to see what was going on in the rest of the world, and to learn from those experiences, and to see what mistakes were made and how to improve on that,” Charlotte said.

Working as doctors in one of the continent’s hardest-hit countries, Charlotte said it was difficult experiencing the waves of COVID-19 in South Africa.

“We’ve both lost our grandparents, we’ve lost uncles, we’ve lost colleagues, we have lots of friends who became ill,” Dr Jagga said.

“We didn’t anticipate how diminished our actual workforce would become – either being in quarantine or being ill – so that, for us, was really hard emotionally do deal with.”

The Jagga’s started planning to move to Australia in 2019 for various work opportunities. Marcelle was looking to complete a Cardiothoracic Anaesthesia Fellowship which he will undertake next year at the Royal Melbourne Hospital – a Fellowship that isn’t available in South Africa.

Charlotte wanted to come and work at a busy hospital and experience emergency medicine in Melbourne – so she is pleased to be working in Victoria’s busiest Emergency Department.

Marcelle and Charlotte both expressed how impressed they were with how Northern Health’s management and response to COVID-19.

Marcelle explained that caring for patients during a pandemic is challenging but it’s important to continue ensuring individual health care is at the core of what we do.

He also mentioned it’s been great to see how well staff are protected.

“There’s a great drive to ensure staff are mentally well and physically protected,” he said.

“We are also enjoying the diverse community here. It’s easy to get interpreters and wonderful how you can always find someone that speaks a different language. Everyone is happy to help here and show you the ropes,” Marcelle added.

Charlotte and Marcelle are loving Melbourne. They say it’s very family friendly and the community has been very welcoming since their arrival.

Marcelle and Charlotte with their three daughters

Featured Image: Charlotte and Marcelle, with their youngest daughter, speaking at the Victorian COVID-19 Press Conference (Image: news.com.au)