I spent a month attached to the paediatric unit of Somerset hospital which is based in Green Point, but has a catchment area that covers a large amount of the city and surrounding townships.
My studies here consistent mainly of ward work and ward-based teaching in the hospital itself, with occasional paediatric on-call attachments in the emergency department. In addition to this I attended multiple out-patient paediatric and anti-retroviral (HIV) clinics in the hospital, seeing patients from around the city and outlying areas. Finally, I spent some time in a mobile out-reach child health screening clinic in Khayelitsha, the largest township in South Africa. This was organised by the University of Cape Town and run mainly by medical students with one supervising doctor.
This attachment proved to be a great opportunity to study medicine in a country with different challenges to those faced by the NHS. I was able to learn a lot about general paediatrics and I had many opportunities to practice, and gain confidence in, my history taking and examination techniques. In addition to this I experienced important pathology that, whilst not commonly seen in the UK, makes up a large amount of the global burden to paediatric healthcare worldwide. The prevalence of HIV and TB in Sub-Saharan Africa was immediately obvious on my first day on the wards.
Outside the hospital South Africa was an incredible country to visit. Living in Cape Town for a month was an interesting experience and the Western Cape provided great beaches, surfing and extreme sports as well as the opportunity to go on safari and see sharks up close.