Canzibe Hospital

Canzibe is a 140-bedded deep rural hospital located in the Transkei region of the Eastern Cape. It is a level-one district hospital serving the Ngqeleni area, with a drainage population of about 143 000. Patients are referred from eleven surrounding clinics and general practitioners in the area. Up-referral is to Nelson Mandela and Umtata General Hospitals.

Canzibe serves both in- and out-patients. There are five main wards: adult general, maternity/gynaecology, paediatrics, TB and short-stay. The out-patients department is run daily and serves as a casualty after hours. Emergency surgery and minor procedures are performed in the hospital’s theatres There is an onsite NHLS laboratory, as well as an x-ray department and dispensary, as well as an ARV unit.

Currently four permanent doctors are working at Canzibe. Opportunities for learning at the hospital are related to the relatively resource-constrained setting and difficulty in patient referral, which necessitates a focus on clinical skills (rather than special investigations) and independent clinical decision making.

The local Xhosa community is a traditional one. People make their homes on plots of land allocated to them by the local chief or headman, in the form of homesteads typically comprised of multiple small huts and houses, corn fields and cattle kraals. Basic amenities such as running water, electricity and sanitation are either lacking or severely limited. Poverty and lack of infrastructure, economy and education results in the ‘double-burden’ of disease, with HIV and TB predominating (as is the case generally in South Africa).

The hospital is located about an hour from Umtata (partially along a dirt road), and about 40 minutes from the coastline where one can spend weekends at backpackers or self-catering cottages. Accommodation is provided on the hospital grounds. The village of Canzibe itself is limited; but a small supermarket provides basic groceries and hardware.

See: for photos.