Summer Abroad Global Health Internships


Status: Open—Limited Space Available!

Info Session: 2/7/18, 12:30pm
International Center 2119
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South Africa — Healthcare Challenges in Cape Town

On Location

Since the fall of Apartheid, South Africa has taken great strides to bridge the wide economic and social gap that was left with Apartheid. Infrastructure, education, healthcare services and economic opportunities have grown. The majority black population had limited or non-existent healthcare until the 1990s and today South Africa’s healthcare system provides free or low cost care to most of its population. Yet, besides these great strides, South Africa was one of the hardest hit countries by one of the worst pandemics in recent history, overburdening a fledgling system that was just starting to provide basic services to the majority of the population who had little to no access to them. In the wake of the Apartheid, poverty, continuing inequality, misconceptions about HIV/AIDS, and other factors, influence South Africa’s healthcare system today.

Students will live with local families in the Cape Flats area, a racially diverse great urban expanse behind Table Mountain, populated by forced government relocations during the Apartheid era.


Homestays are located in the Cape Flats area of Cape Town, in a residential neighborhood called Vanguard Estates. This area is usually not visited by most tourists, as it is where most “non-white” Capetonians live. The neighborhood is considered middle class and most families are racially mixed. There are usually two students per homestay, each student with his/her own room. Personal transportation is not very reliable. However, there is a mall about five blocks away where students may pick up personal supplies as needed (clothes, internet, coffee shops, haircut, laundry, etc.).


2 meals a day plus a snack provided for lunch.


Students must fly into the City of Cape Town. Onsite, the program offers private daily transportation between the homestay and clinical rotations Monday through Friday. Students are picked up by a driver in the morning and picked up from their clinical rotations at 3pm.

Clinical Rotations
Sample Schedule

The first couple of days at the program site will be devoted to orienting you to the city, clinical sites, transportation, and other logistical matters. Clinical rotations will usually take place during the day for 6 to 8 hours, five days a week, generally from 8 am to 4pm. Private transportation will be provided to and from clinical sites, both in Cape Town, as well as the rural rotation outside of Cape Town. Clinical rotation sites may include:

Elgin Learning Foundation (Rural Site)

CFHI Students will be placed at Elgin for 2 weeks, giving them a great rural comparison perspective. This opportunity will expose them to community-based health initiatives within a rural farming population. They will experience public and clinical health through rotations at a home based health care project, a step-down facility for the terminal ill, a home for children infected and affected with HIV and AIDS, and a health care clinic for workers:

Secondary Teaching Hospital (Victoria Hospital)

The hospital falls under the Provincial Health Department and the University of Cape Town; provides health services to insured and uninsured patients. The HIV clinics are run in surrounding community health centers and follow-up treatment or continued care happens at the regional hospitals. Participants will rotate in general surgery, pediatrics, casualty, general medicine, and in the HIV clinics. Each department has a head physician who will act as preceptors for the program.

Children’s Hospital (Trauma Unit)

Provides care to the children of Cape Town and serves as a regional and national referral base for many specialties. There are two operating theatres and three outpatient theatres. Participants will learn the various medical techniques used in pediatric trauma: radiological imaging, total body digital imaging, emergency ultrasound and abdominal sonography for trauma, and many others.

Excursions and Day Trips

Short excursions and day trips will be included during orientation week.

Orientation Week Sample Schedule:

  • Welcome barbecue (Braai)
  • Orientation Tour Cape Town- Township- District 6 Museum
  • Community Service Project
  • Site visit to local hospitals and meet and greet with preceptors
  • Tour of Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was held prisoner
  • Visit to Table Mountain
  • Peninsula Tour
  • Optional additional cost tour: Garden Route 

Program Alumni Video Project - Camerin Rencken (Garden Route)

Study Abroad Advisory of Student Risk

Participation in this UC Davis Study Abroad program requires travel to and extended living in a foreign location(s) abroad. UC Davis Study Abroad endeavors to reduce and mitigate risk wherever possible.  However, the environments and risks associated with living in these locations are substantially different than those found during a regular course of study at UC Davis. All participants must download and review the following information prior to departure. Any questions should be directed to the Program Coordinator.

Study Abroad General Risk Advisory

Program Specific Risk Advisories (PDF)

About South Africa

South African Currency: Rand

Language Spoken: In Cape Town the languages are generally Africaans and English (click here for a full list South Africa's eleven official languages)

Weather and Climate
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