Spring 2024


Mseleni Hospital
Mseleni Hospital

South Africa is a country with a turbulent history, which has resulted in large inequalities in wealth, education, and health. Despite the challenges it faces, South Africa has developed significant expertise in the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases, particularly TB and HIV.

Mseleni Hospital, a district hospital in uMkhanyakude District of KwaZulu-Natal, began as a mission project in 1936 and is now managed by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health. It is situated in a remote part of northern KwaZulu-Natal about 60km from the border of Mozambique.

Most patients speak Zulu, although cases are discussed in English. Mseleni Hospital is a six-ward hospital that serves a population of about 90,000 in two local municipalities.

The hospital also provides service through thirty-six mobile clinics and nine clinics in its catchment area. Patients are either referred to the hospital from Mseleni Hospital Clinics, or they come on their own. If patients require more specialist attention, they are referred to tertiary hospitals.

Inanna Carter '22 and Boris Pavic '22 reflect on their MS4 global health clinical rotation in rural South Africa

In spring of 2024, students will have the opportunity to work with a wide range of patients at Mseleni Hospital, including those presenting with common opportunistic infections associated with HIV (i.e., tuberculosis and cryptococcal meningitis).

Savannah Starr '23 and Irrawaddy Lamouth '23 in the OR
DSGOM graduates, Savannah Starr '23 and Irrawaddy Lamouth '23, in the operating room at Mseleni

The experience can be tailored to student interests, with opportunities on the Ob-Gyn, Pediatric, Surgery and general Internal Medicine services. Supervision of UCLA medical students is by family physicians on site, and students work alongside Clinical Officers and the equivalent of residents and medical students from the University KwaZulu-Natal (“UKZN”) School of Medicine.

The rotation has been developed with formal goals and objectives. We are seeking students with an interest in caring for underserved populations, and those with enthusiasm for learning more about global health, infectious diseases, and health care delivery in resource-challenged settings. Students will be expected to demonstrate the highest level of maturity, professionalism, and cultural sensitivity.


Given the location of Mseleni Hospital, it is recommended to fly into Durban. Students may then rent a car together for the 4-hour drive to Mseleni Hospital, and to keep for the duration of the three-week rotation. A few different options for accommodations may be arranged, including a local homestay near the hospital or accommodations at heritage site Soldana Bay, which is about 20 minutes away by car. All rotating medical students must be pre-register with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA).

Students will receive roundtrip airfare and $1,000 of additional support for the Mseleni Hospital, South Africa clinical rotation. These funds will offset the costs of in-country accommodation and food. Students will need to cover the remaining expenses from other funds, as the cost of this rotation will likely exceed the amount provided by the Global Health Program.

Interviews for this elective will take place on Saturday, September 9, 2023, and limited dates in the week(s) after. Students selected for this rotation are required to participate in a mandatory full-day pre-departure training program in Los Angeles on Saturday, February 10, 2024. Upon return home from South Africa, students will be expected to provide feedback through written evaluations and to participate in a mandatory lunchtime feedback session on Thursday, May 30, 2024. Separate from this, students will be asked to attend a site-specific debrief to be arranged upon return from South Africa and prior to graduation.

Rotation dates for this elective have been confirmed. Students applying to this three-week elective must be able to commit to this elective from April 8, 2024, through April 26, 2024. Note that an April 8 start date will require departure from the U.S. by April 6, 2024, at the latest.

Questions regarding this rotation should be directed to Dr. Traci Wells at TWells@mednet.ucla.edu.

Map of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa