The Division of Rheumatology at the University of Cape Town is the oldest registered centre for training of rheumatologists in Africa. The Division has a high academic profile and trainees have emerged to become future professors of rheumatology, some have gone to work in overseas rheumatology units and many have developed highly successful private practices.
The functions of the unit consist of service to the indigent population, outreach to the broader community, teaching of undergraduate and post graduate students as well as research and development.
The services are predominantly at the outpatient level, but patients admitted to the general medical or orthopaedic wards also may require care from the members of the division. There are also a few dedicated rheumatology beds for patients requiring specialised care from a multi-disciplinary team of rheumatologists, orthopaedic surgeons, physiotherapists and occupational therapists. Over 90% of the patients attending our services are not able to access private facilities, but would have access to all the major forms of treatment available, including biological disease modifying anti rheumatic drugs (DMARD). Consultants in the unit also run clinics at certain community health centres in the Western Cape. Visits are also provided through visits to hospitals in the Eastern Cape from time to time.
The under graduate teaching programme extends to medical students in the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th years of training. Final year students have to present at least 2 portfolio cases in their final exam. The post graduate programme is largely based on the EULAR course and career registrars present interesting cases at the weekly academic meetings. Bedside teaching is also offered to rotating general medical registrars.
Research activities include self-initiated research as well as drug trials of newer medications for diseases like rheumatoid arthritis (RA), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and psoriatic arthritis (PsA).
The current Head Of Division is Professor Asgar Ali Kalla; MBChB (UCT); FCP (SA); MD (UCT).