Medical schools hit by cadaver shortage

2015-03-09 00:00

A SHORTAGE of human body donations for medical research is having an impact on the quality of training that South African medical students receive.

Principal officer and CEO at Profmed, Graham Anderson said that while the lack of available cadavers is a national issue, the University of KwaZulu-Natal is facingunder particular strain.

“The university recently confirmed that the number of students allocated to each cadaver has risen from the curriculum’s recommended group of four, to as many as 14, which poses a number of limitations to both students and professors.”

Anderson said a group of four students to a cadaver is considered best practice by the majority of South Africa’s tertiary institutions, such the universities of Pretoria, Cape Town and Stellenbosch.

“This steep rise in group numbers can severely limit the proper medical education of students, which clearly may have consequences for their academic results and skill levels,” he said.

“Due to the many risks and shortfalls associated with the possibility of sub-standard local medical tuition and research, it is critical that the public are aware of the seriousness of the situation …”

He said cadaver shortages were not uncommon in South Africa., which and can be attributed to a number of factors. “Shortages in cadavers are often as a result of cultural and religious beliefs, which may condemn individuals who opt to donate their bodies to research.

“Even forthose people do not have such restrictions, most are ­unaware of the acute shortage or do not understandow the donation processworks.”

Anderson said that any person who would wish to donate their body to medical research should simply include a statement to that effect in their living will.

“The“While the Department of Health had given permission to universities to utilise bodies that were not claimed within 30 days, ­offering some relief to research supplyit is also important to create more awareness and education around the importance of donating one’s body to science,” he said.

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