The Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Cape Town boasts a proud history of innovation. Established in 1920, it is the oldest such department in the country and is currently headed by Professor Lynette Denny.
The Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology trains medical students in obstetrics and gynaecology from the third year to the sixth year of the curriculum. Students are taught in the spiral curriculum and, where appropriate, interdisciplinary tuition is organised (for example, between Obstetrics and Neonatology). Students' training includes equipping students to deal with primary-level problems in obstetrics and gynaecology once they have graduated. In addition, understanding of the complexities of women's health is fostered, as well as the specific challenges in delivering maternal healthcare, newborn healthcare and women's healthcare.
Postgraduate training is also offered and, with the development of the sub-specialities in obstetrics and gynaecology, training in preparation for the examination of the College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology will become available. Candidates may register for other research-based postgraduate degrees including MPhil, MSc, MD or PhD through the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
The first South African obstetric ultrasound unit was created by the Department in 1970. This unit continues to function as a multi-disciplinary foetal medicine unit.
The first gynaecological endocrine clinic was established by the Department in 1972 and developed into the Reproductive Medicine Unit. The first sperm bank in South Africa was established at Groote Schuur Hospital in 1981. The Reproductive Medicine Unit remains the only South African university-based service dedicated to all aspects of reproductive medicine that supplies services to patients accessing the Public Health system.
In 1980 the department established the first South African Community Obstetric Service (known as the Peninsula Maternal and Neonatal Service), setting the national and international benchmark for all primary healthcare medicine.
The department runs a well-established gynaecological oncology service. This is the first unit in South Africa to be recognised by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in the United Kingdom as a sub-speciality training unit.
The department developed the first clinic to provide care to postmenopausal women. At the time, this service was internationally unique and set the standard for many dedicated clinics that now provide similar services.
The department developed the first dedicated obstetric intensive care service in 1989. This remains the only unit of its kind in Africa and has attracted postgraduate students from many countries.