January 1996

Surgery in South Africa

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of General Surgery (Drs Bornman, Krige, and Terblanche), Pediatric Surgery (Dr Rode), and Neurosurgery (Dr de Villiers), University of Cape Town and Groote Schuur Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa.

Arch Surg. 1996;131(1):6-12. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1996.01430130008001

The practice of surgery in South Africa ranges from full-time service in state-funded and academic hospitals serving a largely indigent population to a private sector for medically insured patients. Surgical training occurs at eight medical schools, and specialist registration is obtained after 4 to 5 years with either a university-conferred degree or a fellowship from the College of Surgeons of South Africa. The wide spectrum of First- to Third-World diseases and the high incidence of trauma provide comprehensive experience for practical training. Surgical standards are uniformly high, matching and sometimes pioneering the very best of Western medicine. The health care system is undergoing radical change to correct the imbalances of the apartheid era. Academic institutions are under pressure, and with incipient major financial cutbacks, there is concern that the proud record of service, teaching, and research excellence may be compromised. To facilitate the mission of broadening health care services, diploma training in surgery for rural practitioners is being developed. Outreach programs and closer liaisons with surgical societies in sub-Saharan African countries have also been initiated. (Arch Surg. 1996;131:6-12)