Can a new paediatric sub-specialty improve child health in South Africa?

George Swingler, Michael Hendricks, David Hall, Susan Hall, David Sanders, Neil McKerrow, Haroon Saloojee, Steve Reid


Compared with other middle-income countries, child health in South Africa is in a poor state, and should be addressed by focusing on the health care needs of all children across a system or region. Paediatricians have had little effect on this situation, partly because their training is not aligned with South African needs. The proposed re-engineering of primary health care will be limited by the skewed distribution of staff and the lack of suitable skills. A ‘community’ placement during specialist training, and the creation of a sub-specialty in Community Paediatrics and Child Health, could address the skills shortage and possibly attract health personnel to under-served areas through creating an appropriate career path. This proposal would also support the Department of Health’s encouraging plans to re-engineer primary health care.

Authors' affiliations

George Swingler, University of Cape Town

Michael Hendricks, University of Cape Town

David Hall, University of Cape Town

Susan Hall, University of Cape Town

David Sanders, University of the Western Cape

Neil McKerrow, Pietermaritzburg Metropolitan Hospital Complex, KwaZulu-Natal

Haroon Saloojee, Division of Community Paediatrics, University of the Witwatersrand

Steve Reid, Primary Health Care Directorate, University of Cape Town

Full Text



Pediatrics; Public Health; Education; Child Mortality; Child Health Services; Healthcare Disparities; Primary Health Care; Health Manpower; Health Service Administration;

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2012;102(9):738-739.

Article History

Date submitted: 2012-02-07
Date published: 2012-07-31

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