Carried out by South African team led by Professor Goldberg

First ever screening colonoscopy program on Tristan da Cunha

Report from Dr Alex Wonner and Professor Paul Goldberg


Dr Wonner has been trying to organise this programme for the past three years. Then Covid hit but then the late Sean Burns managed to get the funding secured. In 2023 a team was put together, led by Prof. Goldberg, and travelled on the Agulhas II to carry out their a very successful visit. It is planned for the team to return in 2026 to screen the high-risk people.

Photo of the team with Camogli Health Centre (CHC) colleagues -

Back row: Dr Alex Wonner (CHC doctor) and Phillip Kuhn (From Ubuntu Medical - supplier of endoscopy equipment);
Front row: CHC Manager Vera Glass, Professor Paul Goldberg, Dr Acela Lopez (CHC doctor),
Virginia Golding (CHC nurse),
Dorothy Douglas (Endoscopy nurse from University of Cape Town Private Academic Hospital)
and Yolanda Sebitloane (CHC nurse).

Kumi Joubert (CHC Theatre Sister) and Dr Gunther Kellermeier (CHC doctor)
were not in the photo they were carrying out other duties at the CHC.

Dr Gunther Kellermeier at the summit of the 1961 lava flow overlooking the Tristan Settlement

Professor Goldberg's Report

I recently had the privilege of travelling to Tristan da Cunha to perform a colon cancer prevention service. It was an amazing experience.

I was hosted by Joseph and Anne Green who looked after me in their lovely home. Anne provided me with far too much scrumptious food. Joe fascinated me with his tails of shipwrecks, boats and the challenges of boat and vehicle repairs. His range of skills is remarkable. I believe he can repair just about anything on the island.

Island life is amazing. Relaxed. Nobody locks anything even when they are going away for a few months.

Left: Anne and Joseph Green

Colon cancer appears to be relatively common in the small community of Tristanians. Dr Alex Wonner was concerned and motivated for a colonoscopic screening service to detect early growths and to reduce the threat of the disease. We hired equipment that was needed from Phillip Kuhn's company, and he came with to ensure it was installed properly, and correctly processed between each patient. The procedures proceeded smoothly with pre-cancerous growths removed from just over half the individuals. Fortunately, no cancers were found.

The team's equipment setup in the Camogli Health Centre

Phillip Kuhn in the cleaning room

The Camogli Health Centre staff were extremely committed and worked very hard. Manager Vera Glass spent many hours making sure all the equipment and supplies arrived for the project. She also ensured I had good coffee. Dr Acela Lopez gave the sedation to ensure none of the patients suffered any discomfort. The nurses assisted with the procedures and recovery.

Rockhopper penguins and seals on the rocks at Nightingale Island.

Some time was made to explore the settlement the Patches and the wildlife. Eventually we had to leave Tristan to return to Cape Town and go home after a fantastic experience.

Retrospective view of Tristan da Cunha from aboard the SA Agulhas II on the return to Cape Town on 12th October.
All photos are from Professor Goldberg.