From Left to right : Dr Koni, Mr Basilua, Ms Davies, Dr Sima, Dr Van Koningsbruggen, Ms Tiltman,  Ms Saaiman, Ms Rondganger

In January 2021, Tygerberg Hospital in collaboration with Stellenbosch University’s Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS) launched a new postgraduate diploma in Medical Toxicology. This diploma is the first postgraduate training programme in medical toxicology in Africa and marks an important milestone for both Tygerberg Hospital and Stellenbosch University. This is an 18-month long online course and the first cohort of students graduated on 6 December 2022. The class of 19 students consists of medical doctors, PhD participants, biomedical technologists, pharmacists, and emergency medicine specialists, among others. Given the critical shortage of toxicology experts, the health services of South Africa benefit tremendously from the programme.

The course is in consistence with the HEQC’s Programme Accreditation criteria and has been approved and re-accredited at all required levels within the university. Besides appealing to qualified healthcare professionals, this diploma also aims to reach students from other African countries to establish a diverse student community that benefits the entire continent.

“There is currently a shortage of trained staff with knowledge of poisoning, especially of poisoning by means of chemicals that are unique to the African continent,” says Carine Marks, director of the Tygerberg Poison Information Centre​. The proposed programme in toxicology will aim to address the need to provide training opportunities in this scientific field in both South Africa, and in the broader African continent.  Candidates completing the course will have the practical skills to assist in the diagnoses and management of patients exposed to poisonous chemicals. They will be able to work in medical facilities where they will be able to advise other healthcare professionals on the management of poisoned and envenomed patients. For more information about the course follow this link.

One of the highlights of this course is the fifth and final module, which focuses on exposure to biological chemicals such as those found in the venom of snakes, spiders, scorpions and in poisonous plants. The course includes one contact week on the Tygerberg campus of Stellenbosch University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. During this week the students attends a full day workshop on snake bite.  This workshop covers the basics of snake awareness in southern Africa, first aid for snakebite, behaviour, anatomy, venom, myths, and the management of snake bite. The following is a group photo of students and facilitators at the 2022 snake workshop.

L to R Back row  : R Pelle, S Mahoney, K Modler, M Vetten, A Laas, D Van Greunen, C Van Koningsbruggen, S Koni, G Voigt, L Ntshangase, A Du Plessis, M Saaiman, E Mondleki, L Du Plessis, J Tiltman
L to R Front seated: B Davies, A Laas , N Sima, R Basilua, K Rondganger,  H Van Tonder
L to R front on floor:  M Crevani, J Marais, C Marks