The Colleges of Medicine of South Africa
SA Dept of Health Website

Knowing More about The CMSA

Posted: 2024-02-29 09:00

The Colleges of Medicine of South Africa  
A Brief Overview  
The Colleges of Medicine of South Africa (CMSA) is the apex organisaꢀon in South Africa for  
medical and dental specialists. It is a membership organisaꢀon represenꢀng >11 000 medical  
and dental specialists, subspecialists, and diplomates. Its 29 consꢀtuent colleges represent all  
medical and dental specialꢀes in South Africa in academia and in the public and private  
sectors. Its primary mission is “to promote the highest degree of skill, efficiency, ethical  
standards and professional conduct for the benefit of humanity and to promote the honour of  
the medical and dental profession.”  
The CMSA was founded in 1955, prior to which all medical and dental specialist trainees had  
to travel to the United Kingdom or Ireland to write one of their Royal College examinaꢀons to  
register as a specialist in South Africa. Its founding therefore consꢀtuted decolonisaꢀon of  
specialist training and registraꢀon in South Africa.  
The CMSA is a non-profit organizaꢀon. It generates its income from conducꢀng specialist  
examinaꢀons and from membership fees and from grants it may receive. Its elected  
leadership, examiners and moderators provide their services altruisꢀcally without any  
remuneraꢀon. The CMSA employs about 60 permanent staff members in offices located in  
Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Durban, with a local office in Bloemfontein, and offices in  
Mthatha, East London, Gqeberha, and Limpopo in the pipeline.  
The CMSA runs the naꢀonal unitary examinaꢀons for all medical and dental specialꢀes in  
South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa, as well as for diplomas to upskill general medical  
pracꢀꢀoners, and ensures that our diplomates, specialists, and subspecialists are educated  
and trained to internaꢀonal standards. Most pracꢀsing medical specialist and sub-specialists  
and some dental specialists in South Africa have completed the CMSA examinaꢀons.  
The CMSA collaborates very closely with South Africa’s 11 Faculꢀes of Health, Medical and  
Dental Sciences from whose ranks most examiners, conveners and moderators are drawn. The  
Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) has contracted and accredited the CMSA  
to run the naꢀonal unitary examinaꢀons for all medical specialist and subspecialist disciplines  
and also conducts dental specialist examinaꢀons, which some choose to take. The CMSA also  
offers dental specialist examinaꢀons for those who choose to take them. The CMSA is  
independent of government. Through accreditaꢀon with the Council for Higher Educaꢀon, the  
CMSA’s unitary examinaꢀons serve as the examinaꢀon component of the university MMed  
specialist degrees.  
The CMSA is currently expanding its role in line with its mission “to promote the highest  
degree of skill, efficiency, ethical standards and professional conduct for the benefit of  
humanity and to promote the honour of the medical and dental profession” including:  
Online preparatory educaꢀonal material is being developed to make study materials  
accessible and affordable for our candidates.  
The Journal of the Colleges of Medicine of South Africa (JCMSA), a high-quality, peer-  
reviewed medical and dental journal to share research in the medical, dental, and  
biomedical sciences focusing primarily on South Africa, Africa and Lower- and Middle-  
Income Countries (LMICs), was launched in July 2023 ( The journal is  
fully online, open access, and will have high visibility and global impact. Important reasons  
for establishing the JCMSA include that Africa and LMICs should have a premier medical  
journal that competes with the very best journals in high income countries so that global  
health research about LMICs that is published in internaꢀonal journals is published in a  
LMIC journal where it belongs; many medical specialꢀes need more opportuniꢀes to share  
their research in a South African journal; and open access publishing has become  
prohibiꢀvely expensive for authors in LMICs. In response to the laꢁer, an Arꢀcle  
Processing Charge (APS) Waiver Fund has been established to ensure that “the ability to  
pay should never be a barrier to sharing research” …a maꢁer of social jusꢀce.  
Online examinaꢀons for other African countries to award their own Diplomas are being  
planned so that the CMSA contributes to advancing healthcare beyond our borders.  
As a naꢀonal body with representaꢀon of >11 000 members of all medical and dental  
specialꢀes in academia and in the public and private sectors, the CMSA has excepꢀonal  
experꢀse among its membership. The CMSA has engaged in advocacy and a CMSA Health  
Policy Commiꢁee has been established for naꢀonal and provincial governments to engage  
with so that the CMSA can share perspecꢀves of specialized medicine when deliberaꢀng  
about the shape and future of our healthcare.  
The CMSA has been engaging and building alliances with sister colleges in Sub-Saharan  
Africa, Canada, Pakistan, Australia, and New Zealand. The Alliance of Surgical Colleges of  
Africa comprises the West African College of Surgeons, the College of Surgeons of East,  
Central and Southern Africa, and the CMSA. It jointly represents 37 countries and hence  
speaks with a powerful, unified voice to advance surgical educaꢀon, training, and services  
in Africa.  
Every 3 years, the >11 000 members of the CMSA elect the 29 consꢀtuent college councils in  
their specialist disciplines. Addiꢀonal non-voꢀng councillors are co-opted to ensure  
representaꢀon on college councils from every university training department. Every council  
elects a consꢀtuent college president (who is ex officio a member of Senate), a second senator,  
and a secretary.  
Senate is the highest academic decision-making body in the CMSA. The President, Senior Vice-  
President, and Vice-President are elected by Senate for 3-year terms. Senate meets  
biannually and has the following subcommiꢁees: Examinaꢀons and Credenꢀals Commiꢁee  
(ECC), Educaꢀon Commiꢁee (EDCOM) and Finance and General Purposes Commiꢁee (FGPC),  
each of which is led by a Chair and Honorary Registrar, and a Social and Ethics Commiꢁee (SEC)  
and Risk Commiꢁee with non-Senator Chairs. The Honorary Treasurer is also elected by