Diploma in Child Health DCH (SA)

The DCH (SA) is designed to give recognition to competence in the care of children to general practitioners, community service doctors and medical officers who have trained in paediatrics and child health and wish to continue using their skills in the diagnosis, management, and prevention of common and important acute and chronic medical, surgical and psychological disorders of childhood.

Practitioners in the community should have an understanding of hospital paediatrics to enable them to know when to refer and what to expect. Hospital practitioners should have a good understanding of social and community paediatrics and of other services in order to facilitate improved communication and an integrated child health service.

The candidate must be registered or registrable with the Health Professions Council of South Africa.

Before being admitted to write the examination for the DCH (SA), the candidate must:
1.  hold a registrable primary qualification
2.  have completed her/his internship
3.  have completed at least six months of full-time training (which may include internship training) in paediatrics under the direct supervision of a registered Paediatrician (on-site)

have completed less than six months of full-time training (which may incldue internship training) under the direct supervision of a Paediatrician, with additional training taking place at a District level hospital under the direct supervision of a District Clinical Specialist Paediatrician or Regional Paediatrician via Outreach.

Note:  The candidate will require two months of indirect supervision to equate to one month of direct supervision.

DCH blueprint

Please see the CMSA website https://cmsa.co.za/diploma-in-child-health-of-the-college-of-paediatricians-of-south-africa-dchsa/

Examination structure:


Single-best answer (SBA)questions comprising two papers of 75 questions each.

Each paper will be three hours long.

The pass mark for the examination will be determined using a Cohen multiplier plus 1 standard error of measurement applied to the mark obtained by the student at the 90th centile. Negative marking will not apply to the SBA examination and there will be no ‘correction for guessing’ formula applied. Candidates are therefore encouraged to answer all items in the test.

Objective structured clinical examination (OSCE)

A carousel comprising 6 stations

3 clinical cases
1 skills station
1 history-taking station
1 communication station

The following marks (%) will be awarded for each of the stations as well as the judgement points


Clear Pass

Bare Pass

Bare Fail

Clear Fail







< 30

Judgement points






Candidates showing unacceptable/unprofessional behaviour will have judgment point of 0. Candidates who have a performance less than 30% will also get a judgement point of 0.

The six stations are equally weighted amounting to six Judgements.

A Pass mark is a judgement score of ≥ 18 reflecting an overall minimal performance of 50%. For further details kindly refer to DCH regulations document.

The Department of Paediatrics at the University of Cape Town provides a preparatory programme for the OSCE component of the DCH (SA) for any candidates who wish to attend comprising:

  1. Preparatory discussions around the format of the six-station carousel using a peer-to-peer software platform that will allow candidates outside of the Cape Metropole to access the teaching as needed. A suggested approach for preparation for the three clinical cases, the skills and communication stations are included in these discussions. To be included, please email tamara.kerbelker@uct.ac.za and your details will be added to the mailing list.
  2. Bedside clinical teaching may be offered on an individual basis to candidates based at Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital by arrangement with paediatric consultant or registrar staff.  Candidates based at other hospitals should approach paediatric consultants, registrar or senior medical officers with paediatric experience to practice examination and presentation of clinical cases and to assist them with preparation for the clinical examination.