Traditional partnerships have been between academic facilities in high income countries and partners in LMICs providing excellent opportunities for diverse training and research collaborations. However efforts have been largely uncoordinated and often not sustainable. Intra-continental collaborations have been less well-documented and practiced, often due to high clinical workloads; limited research capacity, training or resources; and a shortage of platforms for exchange and networking.
Whilst research and training will improve the workforce capacity, community and system barriers still prevent patients from receiving surgical care. Some of these barriers were identified as the six indicators for surgical capacity documented by the Lancet Commission on Global Surgery (LCoGS) which was launched in South Africa at the South African National Forum for Global Surgery 2015 and identified surgery as “an indivisible, indispensable part of health care” for our country. These relate to surgical provision (facilities, services and practitioners); audit and mortality improvement; and financial consequences for patients in receiving care.
As an academic surgical unit, with staff working full-time in government surgical practice, the Department of Surgery at Wits recognizes it has an important role to play in the building and improvement of surgical services in South Africa in these three domains of service provision, research and training.