The Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town is set to become the first hospital in Africa to perform robotic-assisted surgery following the launch of the state-of-the-art Da Vinci X-I surgical robot.

At a cost of just under R40 million, the multi-armed robot will aid surgeons in doing complex surgeries on the human body – in a less invasive and shorter period of time. Robotic Surgery Coordinator at the hospital, Dr Samkele Salukazana today demonstrated its capabilities. He says the technology offers a host of benefits for both surgeons and patients.

“It’s really an amazing piece of equipment, more especially the hand movement essentially can almost do 360 degree movements in the hands, which you don’t get with conventional laparoscopy and that’s the art in robotic surgery, better vision, magnification, clean clear visual of the anatomy and easier dissection with range of movement,” says Dr Salukazana.

The Western Cape Health Department says it is working on plans to address a backlog in surgical procedures at state hospitals – caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The department prioritised managing its response to the pandemic – resulting in the scaling back of some of its services. Chief of Operations Dr Saadiq Kariem says the surgical services list at all public hospitals will be increased. He says the new state-of-the-art surgical robot launched at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town – will also help to increase much-needed services.

“We’ve got plans at all of our public hospitals to increase the surgical services lists so that we can in fact address the surgical backlogs. The robot will certainly assist us because it will allow us to be more efficient in terms of services that we provide and also will allow us a wider scope and a wider range of clinical services that we can in fact make sure we provide those services to the people of the province,” says Dr Kariem.

VIDEO: The Groote Schuur Hospital launches first robotic surgery