Christiaan Scott

Christiaan Scott grew up hoping to become an American Indian — “the cowboy-battling kind” — and even toyed with the idea of journalism. Developing ankylosing spondylitis, a form of arthritis, as a child piqued his interest in paediatrics. After studying medicine at the University of the Free State and graduating at the University of Cape Town, he worked in paediatrics in Guildford and other London hospitals and then came back to complete his training at the Red Cross Hospital in Cape Town.

There was no training programme for paediatric rheumatology in South Africa, so he spent a year in Leuven, Belgium, on a Discovery Foundation scholarship in 2008 and time in Genoa, Italy, supported by funding from the Arthritis Foundation and the South African Rheumatism and Arthritis Foundation. When he returned to South Africa, the Red Cross Hospital created a post for him with a dedicated paediatric rheumatology component.

Scott is now one of only five paediatric rheumatologists in South Africa, with a special interest in juvenile arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosis. He teaches paediatrics and rheumatology to medical students and advocates children’s rights and equal access to healthcare. With the prevalence of rheumatic diseases in South Africa, he has helped to secure funding and training opportunities at the Red Cross and Tygerberg hospitals, aiming to train at least two more paediatric rheumatologists over the next two years.

He is also part of a research team that collaborates with a number of universities across the world, including University College London and Duke University, studies various types of rheumatic diseases in Africa, with a special focus on how they affect children in South Africa. And if his small patients are looking for proof that juvenile arthritis can be contained, he’s climbed Kilimanjaro, cycled from Brussels to Paris and goes in for trail running.

Amanda Strydom