World Journal of Surgery

, Volume 43, Issue 4, pp 973–977 | Cite as

South African General Surgeon Preparedness for Humanitarian Disasters

  • Kathryn M. ChuEmail author
  • Parveen Karjiker
  • Priyanka Naidu
  • Deirdre Kruger
  • Allan Taylor
  • Miguel Trelles
  • Lynette Dominguez
  • Sarah Rayne
Surgery in Low and Middle Income Countries



Humanitarian medical organizations provide surgical care for a broad range of conditions including general surgical (GS), obstetric and gynecologic (OBGYN), orthopedic (ORTHO), and urologic (URO) conditions in unstable contexts. The most common humanitarian operation is cesarean section. The objective of this study was to identify the proportion of South African general surgeons who had operative experience and current competency in GS, OBGYN, ORTHO, and URO humanitarian operations in order to evaluate their potential for working in humanitarian disasters.


This was a cross-sectional online survey of South African general surgeons administered from November 2017–July 2018. Rotations in OBGYN, ORTHO, and URO were quantified. Experience and competency in eighteen humanitarian operations were queried.


There were 154 SA general surgeon participants. Prior to starting general surgery (GS) residency, 129 (83%) had OBGYN, 125 (81%) ORTHO, and 84 (54%) URO experience. Experience and competency in humanitarian procedures by specialty included: 96% experience and 95% competency for GS, 71% experience and 51% competency for OBGYN, 77% experience and 66% competency for ORTHO, and 86% experience and 81% competency for URO. 82% reported training, and 51% competency in cesarean section.


SA general surgeons are potentially well suited for humanitarian surgery. This study has shown that most SA general surgeons received training in OBGYN, ORTHO, and URO prior to residency and many maintain competence in the corresponding humanitarian operations. Other low- to middle-income countries may also have broad-based surgery training, and the potential for their surgeons to offer humanitarian assistance should be further investigated.


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

268_2018_4881_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (42 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 42 kb)


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Copyright information

© Société Internationale de Chirurgie 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kathryn M. Chu
    • 1
    Email author
  • Parveen Karjiker
    • 1
  • Priyanka Naidu
    • 2
  • Deirdre Kruger
    • 3
  • Allan Taylor
    • 4
  • Miguel Trelles
    • 5
  • Lynette Dominguez
    • 5
  • Sarah Rayne
    • 3
  1. 1.Division of General Surgery, Department of SurgeryUniversity of Cape TownCape TownSouth Africa
  2. 2.Northdale HospitalKwaZulu-NatalSouth Africa
  3. 3.Department of Surgery, Faculty of Health SciencesUniversity of the WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa
  4. 4.Division of Neurosurgery, Department of SurgeryUniversity of Cape TownCape TownSouth Africa
  5. 5.Medical DepartmentOperational Centre Brussels, Médecins sans FrontièresBrusselsBelgium

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