Vision and Mission


Easy accessibility to quality and equitable paediatric surgical care for each and every child in Limpopo province


To establish an excellent paediatric surgery training platform for medical students and aspiring paediatric surgeons from across Africa to learn the ‘ Art of Paediatric Surgery’.

To provide a world class paediatric surgical services and state-of-the-art health care to rural communities both in Limpopo and across neighbouring African countries




The practice of paediatric surgery as a subspecialty in Africa, is rooted in South Africa during the 1920’s, as well as in the late 1940’s to 1950’s when the first paediatric surgical unit was established by Jan H. Louw at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town. Since then, the practice of paediatric surgery in Africa has become firmly established with its own division now existing as a separate department to adult general surgery. This distinction ensures the provision of appropriate and efficient surgical management for the paediatric population and in turn results in better outcomes

Research on paediatric surgery services in South Africa reveal that there are 2.6 paediatric surgeons per million population for the under 14 years of age.



In 2014,  the estimated population of South Africa was approximately 53.7 million with nearly 30% of this population being children under the age of 14 years (16.2 million people). The population in Limpopo Province is estimated at approximately 5.6 million and has the highest early in-patient neonatal death rate per province which is estimated to be 33.1 per 1000 live births. Prior to February 2019, there were no qualified paediatric surgeons based in Limpopo Province and the few surgical interventions rendered to the paediatric population were done by Dr. Tshifolaro on occasional visits.

But majority of paediatric patients were transferred to various tertiary institutions in Gauteng province to access paediatric surgical care. However the availability of beds and the delay of transfer of patients from both district hospitals in Limpopo to Mankweng hospital and subsequently from Mankweng hospital to tertiary hospitals in Gauteng resulted in high morbidity and mortality rates in a vulnerable subset of patients. The delays in transfers and high costs involved in accessing paediatric surgical healthcare in Gauteng resulted in large medical bills being incurred by the Limpopo Provincial government.



In 2014, Dr Tshifularo, a principal Paeditric surgeon specialist at George Mukhari Academic Hospital in Pretoria, started travelling at his own cost to spend two days a month at the Mankweng Academic Hospital, supporting and training their four general surgeons for nine months of the year

In 2018, the doctors there saw 2 100 patients in the surgical outpatient department, 1 700 were admitted and 800 were operated on, illustrating how highly valued his training and hands-on support is. As the only appropriately qualified surgeon, he was appointed Acting Clinical Executive Director at Mankweng.

He says about a third of the 2100 surgical outpatient were children, admitting that it’s an ‘unsatisfactory situation’. Professor Mirza Bhuiyan, (Head of General Surgery), decided to apply for a Distinguished Visitor Award for Dr Tshifularo. He succeeded, and Prof. Tshifularo was awarded a Distinguished Visitor Award to the University of Limpopo. The discovery award allowed Prof. Tshifularo to support the newly established Department of Paediatric surgery with knowledge and skills at Mankweng Hospital from April 2019


01 Feb 2019


As of 1st February 2019, the Limpopo department of Health employed their first qualified paediatric surgeon, Dr Elliot Motloung. Who has since established the first paediatric surgery department at the University Limpopo and the Province, and he was honoured by the Premier of Limpopo Province and MEC of health for his excellent clinical work and commitment to public service.

The high patient load and growth for this Paediatric Surgery Department prompted the provincial government to appoint two other paediatric surgeons. Dr. Esi Botchway was appointed on the 1st August 2019 and Dr. Kagiso Batka-Makwinja appointed on the 1st March 2020, both first female paediatric surgeons were head-hunted to join the unit and Dr. Motloung. These appointments led to this paediatric surgery department to be recognised as a training unit by the University of Limpopo. The appointment of the 3 paediatric surgery specialists resulted in the University of Limpopo becoming the 9th Medical school to provide training capacity for both undergraduate and postgraduate paediatric surgery training

The discovery award allowed Prof. Tshifularo to support the newly established Department of Paediatric surgery with knowledge and skills  at Mankweng Hospital since April 2019. The situation at both Mankweng and Pietersburg Hospital, improved markedly since his early supportive visits. “From the beginning of 2019, when they employed the first paediatric surgeon, Dr Elliot Motloung. Professor Tshifolaro knew that the young paediatric surgeons had been thrown in the deep end, so they collect all the difficult cases and he taught and supervised the development of the department of Paediatric surgery in Limpopo Province till April 2021.


Currently there are two tertiary level hospitals in Limpopo Province, namely Mankweng Hospital and Polokwane Hospital, where paediatric surgical services are being provided. These two tertiary hospitals receive paediatric surgical referrals from 43 other district and regional hospitals from within the province. The department is staffed with 8 permanent medical officers, and one 3-month rotational medical officer or registrar from general surgery as well as 1 medical offer from the surrounding district hospitals, at any given point . The Department of Paediatric Surgery in Sefako Makgatho University, is also sending their senior training paediatric surgery registrars to Mankweng Hospital’s Paediatric Surgery Unit. This allows for satellite registrar training exposure, training exchange and academic partnership between the two units, namely Mankweng Hospital and Dr George Mukhari Hospital.

The seemingly high incidence and prevalence of congenital anomalies and paediatric neoplasms which have been observed, but not yet defined by epidemiological studies, has posed many questions about the distinct pathological pattern of disease in the paediatric population of Limpopo province. The department of Paediatric surgery is committed to clinical research that will attempt to answer the questions around risk factors leading to the unique pattern of congenital anomalies; environmental and genetic factors that play a role in the pathology seen in this region. For this reason there is a research program for medical officers to be trained in clinical research methodology. This research program has been successfully initiated and has currently yielded the submission of multiple research proposals and pending publications.