The cardiac unit at IALCH is the only unit which caters for both adult and paediatric cardiology under the supervision of adult cardiologists. Cape Town has a paediatric cardiology unit at Red Cross Hospital; the paediatric cardiology unit in Johannesburg is under the control of the Professor of Paediatric Cardiology; and there is a similar situation in Bloemfontein.
All the invasive and non-invasive facilities are shared by adult and paediatric cardiologists.
It must be borne in mind that paediatric investigations such as catheterizations and Doppler echocardiography take much longer as we are dealing with more complex forms of the disease. Because of the lack of dedicated facilities for paediatric cardiology, paediatric cardiologists who have been trained have left the unit to take up positions in private practice. At the present time the unit functions with two senior paediatricians who are responsible for the day-to-day running of the paediatric cardiac service. The paediatric catheterization is undertaken by one full-timer and paediatric echocardiography is also undertaken by a dedicated ultrasonographer.
Although the part-timers have given us a satisfactory service, the situation regarding paediatric cardiology is totally unsatisfactory. Considering the high birth rate in the province of KwaZulu-Natal it is quite obvious that the needs of the population are not being served.