Reimagining liver transplantation in South Africa: A model for justice, equity and capacity building – the Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre experience
The challenge of providing effective and integrated liver transplant services across South Africa’s two socioeconomically disparate healthcare sectors has been faced by Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre (WDGMC) since 2004. WDGMC is a private academic hospital in Johannesburg and serves to supplement the specialist and subspecialist medical training provided by the University of the Witwatersrand. Over the past 14 years, our liver transplant programme has evolved from a sometimes fractured service into the largest-volume liver centre in sub-Saharan Africa. The growth of our programme has been the result of a number of innovative strategies tailored to the unique nature of transplant service provision. These include an employment model for doctors, a robust training and research programme, and a collaboration with the Gauteng Department of Health (GDoH) that allows us to provide liver transplantation to state sector patients and promotes equality. We have also encountered numerous challenges, and these continue, especially in our endeavour to make access to liver transplantation equitable but also an economically viable option for our hospital. In this article, we detail the liver transplant model at WDGMC, fully outlining the successes, challenges and innovations that have arisen through considering the provision of transplant services from a different perspective. We focus particularly on the collaboration with the GDoH, which is unique and may serve as a valuable source of information for others wishing to establish similar partnerships, especially as National Health Insurance comes into effect.
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