Today's Big Stories

A grimmer reason why SA kids have the most tonsils removed in the world

Research shows that South Africa is the leading country in the world in terms of tonsillectomy procedures performed on children in private hospitals.

A UCT study claims that the rate of tonsillectomies in the country's private sector is at least double anywhere else in the world.

According to the study, 1888 tonsillectomies are performed per 100 000 youth under 19.

The second highest country is Northern Ireland‚ with 850 per 100 000 children.

Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) Specialist Dr Martin Young says that the study does not contextualise the processes which lead to the operations.

While Young maintains tonsillectomy is a valuable operation for people that need it, he says some other factors may be involved.

He advises that surgeons have to follow a criteria to determine whether people need the procedure.

But he says some surgeons approach the clinical criteria "far more leniently" in many cases due to a dysfunctional relationship with medical funders - who need to see more profitable procedures.

At the same time, Young says some private doctors are known to be indirectly pressurised into performing the operation by healthcare funders.

The true value of a doctor's service is not recognised by the funders. They draw doctors into designated service agreements which are at a very cut rate for what a doctor should bill for his services.

Dr Martin Young, ENT Specialist

You get into a situation where doctors have to churn. They have to do volumes.

Dr Martin Young, ENT Specialist

Young adds that by the time patients approach a specialist, they have already decided and are are adamant about having their tonsils removed.

Take a listen to Dr Martin Young explain below:

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