Division of Dermatology
Prof Nonhlanhla Khumalo
The Dermatology service was started in 1919 at Somerset Hospital by physicians. Specialization through the University of Cape Town was established in the 1960s providing services for adults and children. Dermatology has become an independent specialty with its own College within the Colleges of Medicine of South Africa. It has grown into a vibrant unit offering multiple tertiary services and outreach opportunities, teaching for undergraduates and post graduates. The unit offers clinical management in diseases such as eczema (atopic and contact), serious drug reactions, occupational health, hair disorders, melanoma, vitiligo, infectious and connective tissue diseases especially as they relate to Southern Africa.
Dermatology has both inpatient and outpatient services at Groote Schuur and Red Cross Hospitals and provides extension services to Somerset, Jooste and Victoria Hospitals as needed. We also provide outreach to community health care centres in the Western Cape on a monthly basis as part of undergraduate training. Nurse-lead dermatology clinics are being established with the most established site is at the Mitchell Plain Community Health Centre. A teledermatology referral service augments the outreach (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Special clinical services
1. An 18-bed dedicated fully equipped adult dermatology ward, as well as 2 beds in the paediatric ward
2. A new private dermatology in-patient service has been started. Any dermatologist who has a private patient with disease that is severe enough to warrant hospital admission can refer to our division for admission to the UCT Private Academic Hospital.
3. The Laser Unit: the only academic Laser unit for dermatology in the country - a kind donation from the Oasis Trust.
4. Phototherapy and daycare unit. On average 60 patients receive phototherapy and/or daycare per week with 400 to 500 patient visits a month.
Areas of study
All consultants and registrars are involved in lectures and tutorials for third, fourth, fifth and sixth-year MBChB undergraduates.
Postgraduate teaching takes place daily in the outpatient clinics and during inpatient consultations. There are only 4 State funded registrar (training) posts in the Division of Dermatology. We had additional posts are filled by self-funded supernumerary registrars most from the rest of the African continent. This is a win-win situation where specialist training is offered in exchange for health-service delivery. Without supernumeraries, the Division would not be able to meet its service and teaching requirements.
Together with the Division of Nursing the unit runs an innovative short course for registered nurses providing them with the skills necessary to run independent clinics in the community. This has been up-graded to a 1 year postgraduate diploma in Dermatology Nursing offered since 2011 through UCT.
We aim together with the College of Dermatologists to develop a post-graduate Diploma in Dermatology for Medical Practitioners; this will be offered through the Colleges of Medicine of South Africa
Members of staff are active in national policy and educational matters and serve as members of the International Federation of Dermatology task teams on curriculum planning and public health matters related to skin disease.
The Dermatology Unit has developed an active research policy. We collaborate widely with national and international colleagues in the areas of eczema (atopic and contact), serious cutaneous drug reactions, occupational health, hair disorders, melanoma, vitiligo, infectious and connective tissue diseases. See specific research projects under staff members.