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First doctorate in Thoracic Surgery in Africa awarded
2009-05-12

The University of the Free State (UFS) has become the first university in Africa to award a Ph.D. degree in Thoracic Surgery. The degree was conferred on Prof. Anthony Linegar from the university’s Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery during its recent graduation ceremony.

Thoracic surgery is a challenging subspecialty of cardiothoracic surgery. It began in South Africa in the 1940s and is a broad medico-surgical specialist discipline that involves the diagnosis, operative and peri-operative treatment of acquired and congenital non-cardiac ailments of the chest.

Prof. Linegar became the first academic to conduct a mixed methods analysis of this surgical specialty, which included a systematic review of all the research done in this field in South Africa. The title of his thesis is A Model for the Development of Thoracic Surgery in Central South Africa. The research was based on the hypothesis of a performance gap between the burden of disease in the community and the actual service provision. It makes use of systems theory and project management concepts to develop a model aimed at the development of thoracic surgery.

The research proved that there is a significant under provision of clinical services in thoracic surgery. This was quantified to a factor of 20 times less than should be the case, in diseases such as lung and oesophagus cancer. According to Prof. Linegar, there are multiple reasons for this. Listed amongst these reasons is the fact that thoracic surgery is not part of the undergraduate education in medical training. There tends to be a low level of awareness amongst clinicians as to what the thoracic surgeon offers their patients. The diagnostic and referral patterns in primary and secondary health facilities, where diseases must be picked up and referred early, are not functioning well in this regard. In addition, relatively few cardiothoracic surgeons express an interest in thoracic surgery.

Prof. Linegar’s model is named the ATLAS Mode, which is an acronym for the Advancement of Thoracic Surgery through Analysis and Strategic Planning. It includes the raising of awareness of the role of the specialist thoracic surgeon in the treatment of patients with thoracic diseases as part of the solution to the problem. Furthermore, it aims to develop an accessible and sustainable specialist service that adequately provides for the needs of the community, and that is appropriately represented in health administration circles.

His promoters were Prof. Gert van Zyl, Head of the School of Medicine at the UFS, Prof. Peter Goldstraw, from the Imperial College of London, United Kingdom (UK) and Prof. Francis Smit, Head of the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the UFS.

Prof. Linegar has been with the UFS since 2004, is a graduate from Stellenbosch University in 1984 and completed his postgraduate training in Cardiothoracic Surgery at the University of Cape Town. He was granted a Fellowship in Thoracic Surgery at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London, UK and has since held consultant positions at the UFS, Stellenbosch University and in private practice. He has been involved in registrar training since returning from the UK in 1994 and has extensive experience in intensive care medicine. He has published widely, has presented papers at many international conferences, has been invited as a speaker on many occasions and has won awards for best presentation on three occasions.

Media Release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl.stg@ufs.ac.za  
12 May 2009
 

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