Red Cross Children's Hospital is the largest children's hospital in Sub-Saharan Africa. It provides all levels of multidisciplinary care at an international level whilst taking in to account the limitations of being located in a resource poor country.
The Division of Developmental paediatrics sees both common and rare, complex multisystemic disorders (Autism, genetic syndromes with associated developmental problems, cerebral palsy etc).
The vision and mission of the service is directed specifically towards the impact from diseases of poverty, which dominate the service load, i.e.
human immunodeficiency virus type 1
perinatal injury and disorders of antenatal toxin exposure (FAS, Methamphetamin exposure)
The child development service is directed towards building and expanding capacity to manage both complex disorders and the neglected diseases of poverty from vulnerable populations.
Dedicated clinics have established large cohorts of children from the Sub-Saharan African population
The service operates in the region of 60 clinics a month, with almost 3000 clinic visits a year.
There are 6 dedicated paediatric beds which are available to the department should children require admission for diagnostic workup or complex management issues, but many more patients are managed on the "general wards" on a referral / advisory basis.
Outreach service operates with regular specialist visits for both training and case assessment.
The service assists with establishing government guidelines aimed towards optimal care in a resource poor setting.
Teaching and Training
The team regard training as an essential way to improve care to children with developmental problems - we are keen to set up links with other centres throughout Africa and to offer training experiences either through attachments to our department or through invited training workshops.
Currently one of two centres in South Africa with a dedicated child development/paediatric neurodevelopment training post.
The post follows international training guidelines.
To date 4 trainees fully completed training (now in consultant posts).
Departmental research spans involvement in projects investigation aspects of cerebral palsy, autism spectrum disorders as well as the genetic disorders associated with developmental problems. In particular there is specific interest in developmental disabilities as they manifest in resource limited settings such as South Africa. Specific interests include the preventable causes of neurodisability such as alcohol and methamphetamine exposure, organophosphate poisoning and the neurological and neurocognitive complications of HIV.
Active Research Projects
Genetic Characterization of Neurodevelopment Disorders (NeuroDev)
Tracking and prediction of early brain-face biomarkers of prenatal alcohol exposure from neonates to children
Neurobiological pathways from trauma exposure to child mental health outcomes in a high adversity South African Birth Cohort