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PReS-FINAL-2366: Paediatric rheumatology in South Africa


South Africa is a middle income, developing country with a population of 51 million people, 29% of whom are younger than 14 years. As a result of a heavy burden of communicable disease and major socio-economic and political challenges, chronic rheumatic conditions in children have received very little attention in the past and South Africa only has 5 pediatric rheumatologists, 1 for every 3 million children.


1) To describe the past and present of pediatric rheumatology in South Africa. 2) To describe challenges in the care of PR patients in South Africa. 3) To describe training and research activities in South Africa and speculate on the future.


Available regional pediatric rheumatology data, clinic data and pediatric rheumatology workforce statistics were reviewed.


The spectrum of rheumatic diseases seen in South African clinics is different to those in developed countries. The burden of infectious diseases complicates the presentation and management of children with rheumatic diseases. There is a shortage of pediatric rheumatologists and training opportunities in South Africa.


In recent years Pediatric Rheumatology has become an established discipline in South Africa and the provision of specialized healthcare for children and adolescents with Rheumatic Diseases has improved. Despite this the majority of children in South Africa are not able to access appropriate care. There is a need for training in pediatric rheumatology at all levels of pediatric healthcare in South Africa and a critical need to support the training and retention of pediatric rheumatologists. There is a shortage of research on pediatric rheumatic diseases in Africa.

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This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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Scott, C. PReS-FINAL-2366: Paediatric rheumatology in South Africa. Pediatr Rheumatol 11 (Suppl 2), O31 (2013).

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