News

Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital Opens Surgical Skills Training Centre

21 June 2011

The new Surgical Skills Training Centre at the Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital, which was officially opened on Wednesday, 22 June 2011, is the first of its kind in Sub-Saharan Africa to offer training in paediatric endoscopic surgery.

In just 18 months, the Children's Hospital Trust raised the R13.8 million needed to build and equip this high-technology training centre, which will train surgeons in adult and paediatric endoscopic (minimally invasive) surgery, general surgery and complementary specialties.

Previously, the absence of paediatric endoscopic surgical training centres in Sub-Saharan Africa forced African paediatric specialists and surgeons to travel to Europe or the United States for training. Since the building of the state-of-the-art operating theatre complex with digital facilities at the Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital, this new nine-station Surgical Skills Training Centre is ideally placed to develop and improve endoscopic surgery skills, locally and on the African continent.

"The benefits of having minimally invasive surgery are less operative pain and infection risk, a shorter hospital stay and faster recovery with less scarring. During endoscopic surgery, an endoscope, which is a long, rigid tube with a camera and light attached, is used. The device is inserted into the body through a small incision and the surgeon views the image displayed on a monitor. The surgeon also makes other small incisions to insert instruments necessary to do the surgical procedure," explains Professor Alastair Millar, Charles FM Saint Professor of Paediatric Surgery, University of Cape Town and the Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital.

"Increasingly, minimal access surgery is becoming the gold standard, and conventional large incision surgery will soon be regarded as obsolete. A training centre such as this allows our surgeons of the future to be at the forefront of current surgical practice," says Professor Millar.

"These skills cannot always be safely acquired in a live surgery setting on patients, and this centre will give training surgeons an opportunity to refine their surgical skills, and experienced surgeons an opportunity to transfer their knowledge and skills to other hospitals," says Louise Driver, CEO of the Children's Hospital Trust. This centre will also offer hands-on training courses at various levels in specialties such as anaesthetics, ENT, neurosurgery and urology.

Western Cape Minister of Health, Theuns Botha, says, "The Western Cape Department of Health is grateful to the many donors who have donated towards this project which offers the combination of state-of-the-art breakthrough technology together with the opportunity to train new surgeons. The training centre certainly offers the Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital further growth opportunities and expansion into the continent. This underscores the Western Cape's leading role on this continent with regard to training and skills transfer."

The Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital has become a national resource and has an international reputation as a centre for excellence in its ability to deliver paediatric and surgical services equivalent to those found in developed countries. The Children's Hospital Trust has been fundraising for the Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital for more than 17 years, ensuring that the hospital remains at the forefront of paediatric care.

"The Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital always prides itself in being the 'first' for any new developments in the field of paediatrics, be it the cutting edge technology or highly specialised procedures or operations. What underpins these outstanding achievements for the hospital are the skills, knowledge and expertise within the hospital and the good healthy partnerships with the private sector. Thank you to our donors who are always willing to give for the benefit of sick children," says Dr Lungi Linda, CEO of the Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital.

Karl Storz Endoscopy, German manufacturers of endoscopic equipment, has donated millions of rands in equipment needed for this new facility, which houses one master station and eight training stations in the University of Cape Town's Institute of Child Health building based at the Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital. Surgeons will use this equipment to master the use of increasingly sophisticated technology and learn the advanced surgical procedures.

"I want to take this opportunity to thank Karl Storz Endoscopy for the trust they have placed in our skills and our human resources potential to drive this project further in the Western Cape. We look forward to a working relationship that will benefit all partners," says Minister Botha.

Media Enquiries: 

Lauren O'Connor-May
Principal Communications Officer
Tel: 021 658 5448
Cell: 084 586 1413
Fax: 021 658 5333
E-mail: rxhpro@pgwc.gov.za