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A Vision for the Future

August 2023

Celebrating Women in Medicine

South Africa has a rich history of medical innovation, from Dr. Chris Barnard’s pioneering heart transplant to the present day. As the eagerly awaited Johannesburg Surgical Hospital (JSH) prepares to open its doors, it ushers in a new era of healthcare excellence. This state-of-the-art facility is more than just a hospital; it’s a testament to progress, evolution, and the role of women in medicine. In honour of Women’s Month, we shine a spotlight on the remarkable female medical practitioners at JSH, and explore their groundbreaking work, commitment to evidence-based research, and the integration of cutting-edge technology like the Da Vinci robot.


Empowering Women in Medicine

JSH boasts a team of accomplished female physicians and surgeons who are leading the way in their respective fields. Dr. Jonel Breytenbach, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon, envisions a more inclusive landscape for her specialty. She recognises the importance of female representation, stating, “Females feel more comfortable with females.” Dr. Breytenbach is deeply involved in a breast care unit, where a multidisciplinary team, including herself, strives to provide holistic care and optimal outcomes.

Similarly, Dr. Romela Benitha, a rheumatology specialist, emphasises the value of empathy, especially in her field where pain is a central concern. “Women bring empathy,” she asserts, enhancing patient experience and care. Dr. Shahista Khan, specialist physician, brings her ambitious vision to life by designing a cutting-edge ICU that reflects her dedication to innovation and excellence.

Dreams Realised and Challenges Overcome

Dr. Khan’s journey to realise her dream of creating a world-class ICU is both inspiring and heartwarming. With the freedom to explore global ICUs, she combined ideas to create an exceptional space. Her journey from a determined 18-year-old aspiring medical student to the mastermind behind a groundbreaking ICU exemplifies the hospital’s commitment to exceeding expectations. Dr. Khan’s achievements underscore the limitless potential that dedication and ambition hold.

The women of JSH offer advice to aspiring female doctors: persevere, show up consistently, and stand up for your dreams. Their stories echo resilience, encouraging future generations of women to pursue their medical aspirations with unwavering determination.

Evidence-Based Excellence

The foundation of JSH is built upon evidence-based research, with protocols carefully developed to offer unparalleled patient support. Weekly rounds, attended by esteemed academic professors, ensure a comprehensive and cutting-edge approach. Dr. Khan’s research-based approach to ICU design, including ample space and natural light to aid patient recovery, epitomises the hospital’s commitment to exceptional patient care.

Da Vinci Robot: Revolutionising Surgery

A pinnacle of innovation at JSH is the integration of the DaVinci Surgical Robot in general surgeries. This robotic system, renowned for its precision and minimally invasive procedures, has predominantly been utilised in urology. However, JSH’s general surgeon, Dr. Fathima Docrat, is excited to expand its use into various specialties, including general surgery. This advancement promises to refine surgical techniques, enhance patient outcomes, and push the boundaries of medical possibilities.

A Bright Future

The horizon for JSH is illuminated with promise. The hospital’s commitment to research, compassion, and competence ensures a holistic patient experience. Dr. Fathima Docrat envisions a broader community outreach, aiming to extend their exceptional care beyond the hospital’s walls. The JSH team’s dedication to growth, excellence, and inclusion is a beacon for women in medicine and an inspiration to the global healthcare community.


JSH’s commitment to innovation, empowerment, and evidence-based care is shaping the future of medicine. The remarkable women at the heart of this institution are breaking barriers, revolutionising surgery, and providing compassionate care. As JSH opens its doors to the world, it stands as a testament to what is possible through dedication, resilience, and a shared vision of excellence. Let us celebrate the women in medicine and the limitless potential they bring to the healthcare landscape.