South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC)
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Burden of Disease Research Unit


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debbieDirector: Prof Debbie Bradshaw, MSc, DPhil (Oxon)

The Burden of Disease Research Unit was set up by the Medical Research Council to collate and analyse data relating to health status and factors affecting health. South Africa is undergoing profound changes in health and it is important to monitor this for planning purposes. Comprehensive information on the trends in health status and the determinants is required. A major focus of the unit is to undertake analysis of available data sets to develop coherent estimates from these data. Another focus of the unit is to evaluation health information systems so that they can be improved.

The mission of the Unit is to assess and monitor the country's health status and determinants of disease; to project the future burden of disease in order to provide planning information to improve the health of the nation and to evaluate health information systems. Inequalities are of particular importance given the legacy of the Apartheid history in South Africa and the current macro-economic trends arising from globalisation. Multidisciplinary approaches are used drawing on epidemiology, demography and biostatistics. Expertise has been developed in the area of summary health measures, health surveys, the analysis of mortality data and health informatics.

The unit collaborates with people at all levels of the health service and government in order to improve the surveillance and management information systems used to collect such data. In particular, technical support has been provided to government to improve vital registration and health surveys. Collaborations have been established with academic institutions and international agencies.

The unit is led by Debbie Bradshaw, MSc, DPhil (Oxon), an established researcher in the area of South African mortality and epidemiology. She trained as a biostatistician and developed expertise in epidemiology and demography during her career as a researcher. Her main research interests are mortality profiles and health transition. She has authored/co-authored peer reviewed articles and presented papers nationally and internationally. She serves on several advisory committees in the health and health research arenas.


  1. To estimate and monitor the burden of disease and other indicators of population health.
  2. To improve health information and surveillance systems
  3. To undertake methods research to support Burden of Disease and surveillance
  4. Capacity development and support
  5. To make information available for health policy and planning

Burden of Disease Research Unit's contact details

Burden of Disease Staff photos

Front row from the left
Prof Debbie Bradshaw, Ms Nomfuneko Sithole, Ms Monique Fourie, Ms Akhona Ncinitwa, Ms Megan Prinsloo, Ms Nontuthuzelo Somdyala, Dr Lyn Hanmer.

2nd row from the left
Dr Edward Nicol, Dr Jané Joubert, Ms Beatrice Nojilana, Ms Mweete Nglazi, Nadine Nannan, Dr Oluwatoyin Awotiwon, Ms Rifqah Roomaney, Dr Victoria Pillay Van Wyk, Ms Claudette Garnie, Ms Eunice Tuwara, Ms Elize De Kock.

3rd rown from the left 
Assoc Prof Richard Matzopoulos, Mr Ian Neethling, Dr Pam Groenewald, Mr Linda Mbuthini, Ms Noluntu Funani, Prof Ali Dhansay.

Front row from the left
Ms Akhona Ncinitwa, Ms Monique Fourie, Ms Nomfuneko Sithole

Second row from the left
Ms Beatrice Nojilana, Nadine Nannan, Dr Jané Joubert, Prof Debbie Bradshaw, Ms Megan Prinsloo, Dr Oluwatoyin Awotiwon, Dr Victoria Pillay van Wyk, Ms Nontuthuzelo Somdyala, Ms Rifqah Roomaney, Dr Lyn Hanmer, Ms Eunice Tuwara, Ms Noluntu Funani, Dr Edward Nicol, Ms Elize De Kock

3rd row from the left
Assoc Prof Richard Matzopoulos, Dr Pam Groenewald, Mr Ian Neethling, Mr Linda  Mbuthini, Sulaiman Abrahams, Ms Mweete Nglazi, Ms Claudette Garnie

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Last updated:
3 March, 2017
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