The spirit of bringing hope during the festive season is gaining traction just before Christmas, as a team of doctors perform life-changing surgery on three young patients. On Friday 21 December 2018, Dr Sharan Naidoo, a Maxillofacial and Oral Surgeon at Mediclinic Midstream will be performing cleft repair surgery on three children as an extension of the CSI partnership between private and public sectors.

These surgeries will mark the start of 10 planned cleft repair surgeries at Mediclinic Midstream over coming weeks, where a team of surgeons, anaesthetists and paediatricians will being changing young lives. Two conventional cleft lip repairs will be performed on Friday in addition to a lateral facial cleft repair.

Over the last two years, more than 150 patients have received life-changing and sometimes life-saving surgery as part of a collaboration between Mediclinic and a number of provincial health departments. To date, these have included prostate surgery, tympanoplasty (or eardrum repairs), cataract surgeries as well as a few other procedures, where state patients on waiting lists were experiencing long delays. These are the first surgeries within Gauteng, with the Western Cape, Limpopo, Free State and most recently Kwa-Zulu Natal participating in surgeries.

Dr Sharan Naidoo will perform these 10 surgeries on a pro bono basis together with a team of anaesthetists (Dr Janré Smit, Dr Aysha Osman and Dr Johannes Vlok) and two paediatricians Dr Faye Morar and Dr Hasina Ebrahim. “These surgeries are about more than just repairing external features – they are about changing lives,” says Dr Naidoo. “I am passionate about giving opportunities to these families where they have had to wait for surgery for their children. There is huge pressure on state facilities, and our partnership will allow a measure of relief for the state waiting lists for this procedure.”

To date, the collaborative surgeries have been successful in fostering stronger relationships between the private sector and various provincial departments of health, exploring workable solutions in the move towards a more accessible healthcare system for the country. “The response from our public sector partners has been overwhelming, with many of our Mediclinic facilities planning additional rounds of surgery,” says Bob Govender, Industry Affairs Executive for Mediclinic Southern Africa. “We are actively investigating how the additional capacity we have available can support the care the public sector is already delivering to their patients. It is important that we are producing effective outcomes in areas where they have the greatest demand.”

Patients are identified by the partnering public health facility from their respective waiting lists. The patients are then examined and are operated on in the local Mediclinic hospital by the attending private sector doctor. Through this process, Mediclinic can actively contribute towards relieving the backlog for procedures being experienced in that region.

Dr Shane Kotze, Hospital General Manager at Mediclinic Midstream, believes that the community can only benefit from these partnerships, “Through the hard work and collaboration of our attending specialists, Mediclinic Midstream has been able to make a significant contribution to our community. Ten surgeries will not only change the lives of the ten patients, but also the families of those patients. This is where we see our reward. The staff have been very keen to assist and we are excited to join the Mediclinic family in this collaboration.”