Simnikiwe Hlatshaneni
Premium Journalist
4 minute read
9 May 2021
12:53 pm

Hugo Tempelman: An extraordinary legacy

Simnikiwe Hlatshaneni

His work has impacted South Africa’s entire healthcare system, from policy to patient.

Hugo und Liesje Tempelman. Hugo says he has saved more lives by drilling boreholes than he could handing out anti-diarrhoea medication. Picture: Hugo Tempelman Stiftung

Hugo Tempelman arrived in South Africa as a 30-year-old doctor in 1990, in search of opportunities to work in community healthcare. He was studying towards a specialisation in what was referred to as tropical health at the time, requiring him to do work and research in a country with major gaps in healthcare access, among other factors for which South Africa clearly fit the bill at the time. Unbeknownst to the general population, South Africa was about to be hit with a fourth and most deadly epidemic to face the country yet, following the bubonic plague, Spanish flu and polio....