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Kat Evans: Paediatrics in South Africa at DFTB17


This talk was recorded live on the first day at DFTB17 in Brisbane.

Kat Evans is an emergency physician working in Mitchell Plains in South Africa. She is one of the founders of BadEM (Brave African Discussions in EM), a FOAMed blog not just for those working in Africa but also provides excellent lessons for the rest of us.

In this talk Kat reminds us that whilst the burden of trauma is high in South Africa, it is not the only problem they have to deal with.

Paediatric healthcare is a cornerstone of any society, aimed at safeguarding the well-being of its youngest members. This talk, from our first conference in 2017, takes us on a journey into the realm of paediatrics in South Africa, highlighting unique challenges, cultural dynamics, and innovative solutions that shape paediatric healthcare in her homeland.

Geography as Destiny

Geography plays a pivotal role in healthcare outcomes. There is a disparity in healthcare access and services within South Africa, where communities experience vastly different levels of care. Reflecting historical injustices and ongoing inequalities, healthcare resources vary dramatically, even within a single city such as Cape Town. Access and outcomes are intrinsically tied to geography, often determining the trajectory of health for individuals and communities.

Pediatric Care in a Diverse Community

At Mitchell’s Plain Hospital, Dr Kat Evans looks after a diverse population of over half a million people, offering a window into the challenges faced by both patients and healthcare providers. The hospital caters to various demographics, from middle-class families to underserved communities, immigrants, and patients from different provinces. This diversity presents a complex landscape where healthcare needs span from common paediatric conditions to severe trauma and infectious diseases.

Preventive Initiatives and Unique Approaches

In an environment with resource constraints, early intervention is important to maximize the impact of each healthcare encounter. From immunizations and deworming to screening for malnutrition and non-communicable diseases, the focus is on leveraging every medical interaction for positive health outcomes.

Trauma and Injury Prevention

Trauma and injuries, particularly involving paediatric patients, remain a global concern. Addressing the root causes necessitates a comprehensive approach involving education, infrastructure enhancements, and community engagement.

Addressing Emotional Impact and Supporting Teams

The emotional toll of working in a paediatric healthcare environment with high mortality rates is significant. Dr Kat highlights the importance of open communication and debriefing among healthcare teams to manage the emotional challenges they encounter. By fostering a supportive environment and encouraging team members to express their emotions, healthcare professionals can better navigate the emotional complexities of their roles.

You can listen to this talk as you walk to work on any device that supports podcasts.

One of our resident doodlers, Grace Leo, has taken some notes so you don’t have to.

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