South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC)
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Health Systems Research Unit


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Contact details 

Tel: +27 21 938-0454
Fax: +27 21 938-0483

Staff details

Catherine MathewsCatherine Mathews
Chief Specialist Scientist

Tel: +27 21 938-0401

Catherine Mathews is a scientist and director in the Health Systems Research Unit, based in the Cape Town office of the Medical Research Council. She is also an Honorary Associate Professor at the University of Cape Town, in the School of Public Health and Family Medicine and in the Adolescent Health Research Unit of the Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health. Her work is in the field of HIV prevention and adolescent sexual and reproductive health. Her research includes evaluations of HIV prevention programmes for young adolescents, focussing on school health systems.  It also includes evaluations of clinic-based HIV and STI prevention programmes. She is an editor for the Cochrane Sexually Transmitted Infections Review Group.

tanyaTanya Doherty
Chief Specialist Scientist

Tel: +27 21 938-0454

Tanya Doherty is a chief specialist scientist with a focus on maternal and child health research including prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV, child survival evaluations and community randomised trials. Tanya is an Extraordinary Professor in the School of Public Health at the University of the Western Cape and Honorary Associate Professor in the School of Public Health, University of the Witwatersrand.

emannuelleEmmanuelle Daviaud
Senior Specialist Scientist

Tel: +27 21 938-0454
(27) 083 302 3561

Emmanuelle Daviaud is a health economist and senior specialist scientist. Her main focus is on economic evaluation and human resources planning in South Africa and other African countries. Her work includes development of Human Resource Planning model for PHC re-engineering in South-Africa, multi-country economic evaluation of community-based programs to decrease neonatal mortality, costing of community case management in six African countries, assessing cost-effectiveness of MDR-TB treatment in different platforms of delivery, and assessing cost-effectiveness of using Mhealth to strengthen diabetics adherence.

Simon LewinSimon Lewin
Senior Specialist Scientist

Simon Lewin is a social scientist at the MRC and at the Norwegian Knowledge Centre for the Health Services. His work is largely within the field of implementation research, including systematic reviews of complex health interventions; the evaluation of strategies for changing professional and consumer behaviours; and methods for qualitative evidence synthesis. He is currently working on several reviews on ‘task shifting’; on evidence-based strategies for improving communication about childhood vaccination; and on supporting research evidence use in low- and middle-income countries. He is an editor for the Cochrane Consumers and Communication and Effective Practice and Organisation of Care Review Groups.

Ameena GogaAmeena Goga
Senior Specialist Scientist

Tel: +27 12 339-8524

Ameena Goga is a pediatrician with a strong interest in preventing maternal and child co-morbidity, the epidemiology of early childhood illnesses, and community paediatrics. Over the past Her research over the past ten years her research has focused on infant feeding and HIV and the population-level impact of the South African Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) programme. Her current work also includes barriers to uptake of HIV-related care, early warning systems for ARV resistance, ARV adherence and improving systems for the optimal maternal and child health. She is currently MRC principle investigator on the SAPMTCT Evaluation, a national survey evaluating the effectiveness of the PMTCT programme and a co-PI on the very early infant HIV diagnosis study. She holds an Extraordinary Professorship at the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, University of Pretoria.

karenKaren Daniels
Specialist Scientist

Tel: +27 21 938-0301/0454

Karen Daniels is a social scientist working in the field of public health research.  She regards herself as an activist at heart and considers research another site of social activism. She started out as a qualitative researcher after training in English and History, but her interest in health led her to an MPH (UCT) and a Dr.PH (NHV). Over the years she has gained a wide range of experience within the field of health policy and systems research. She has been engaged in projects focused on infectious diseases, human resource solutions, evidence use in policy, gender and policy and policy implementation. Currently she leads the South African Initiative for Systematic Reviews on Health Policies and Systems (SAI). She is also the lead investigator for a review on incentives for lay health workers, and a co-investigator and post graduate supervisor on several qualitative studies.

loraineLoraine Townsend
Specialist Scientist

Tel: +27 21 938-0316

Loraine Townsend is a research psychologist currently completing outputs from a five-year, recently concluded research focus in the Unit: HIV biological and behavioural surveillance among people at high risk of HIV, namely people who have multiple sexual partners, refugees and foreign migrants, and men-who-have-sex-with men. Her more recent work includes HIV prevention and adolescent sexual and reproductive health, bullying, and abuse of children and adolescents.

marianMarian Loveday
Specialist Scientist

Tel: +27 33 345-2778, 082 441 7040

Marian Loveday is a specialist scientist with a focus on TB, MDR-TB and health systems research. She is currently working on documenting and evaluating different models of care for MDR-TB patients across South Africa. Her research interests include tuberculosis, TB/HIV co-infection and health systems.

natalieNatalie Leon
Specialist Scientist

Tel: +27 21 938-0454

Natalie Leon is a scientist who completed her PhD in Public Health at the University of Cape Town in 2011. Her doctoral study was a multi-method, outcome and process evaluation of a provider-initiated HIV screening intervention for STI patients.  She has worked as a clinical psychologist in the public sector and in health systems strengthening for primary health care. Her interest is in health systems strengthening research on cross-cutting issues such as human resources, management, health information, continuous quality improvement. She is currently involved in process evaluation of RCTs aimed at using mobile-phones to improved adherence to chronic disease and in strengthening systems to improve HIV testing and linkage to care.

Nobubelo Ngandu
Specialist Scientist

Tel: + 27 21 938 0316

Nobubelo Ngandu is an HIV Computational Biologist with further training in Epidemiology and Biostatistics. Her previous work, at the University of Cape Town, involved modelling HIV molecular evolution of virus strains infecting the Southern African population. Her current main research interests are in HIV molecular evolution and epidemiology in the context of mother-to-child transmission. Her secondary interest is in assessing wealth-related inequity to access and uptake of health services and programs aimed at preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV and at improving mother and child health in general.

yangaYanga Zembe
Specialist Scientist

Tel: +27 21 938-0401

Yanga is a social scientist with research interests in adolescent sexual health, gender and wealth inequalities (and their impact on sexual health outcomes), gender based violence, health systems surveillance of sexual risk behaviours and intimate partner violence, the role of the family unit in the development and management of adolescent risk behaviour and the use of community participation methods in intervention development.  She is currently involved in the development, implementation and evaluation of an intervention to reduce gender based violence in a peri-urban community in the Western Cape. Recently she was involved in the evaluation of a STI partner notification monitoring system in health facilities in Khayelitsha. She has also been involved in several HIV bio-behavioural surveillance studies among most-at-risk populations of women and men who have multiple sexual partners, men who-have-sex-with- men and migrant populations.

sarahSarah Dewing
Senior Scientist

Tel: +27 21 938-0258

Sarah Dewing is a research psychologist with a PhD from the University of Cape Town.  Her PhD was an evaluation of a positive prevention intervention that was implemented by lay counsellors working within public healthcare facilities in Cape Town. Her research areas are programme evaluation, behavioural interventions for HIV prevention and ARV adherence.

wangaWanga Zembe
Senior Scientist

Tel: +27 21 938-0803

Wanga Zembe is a social scientist who has worked on several maternal and child health research projects in the Unit and she completed her PhD from Oxford in 2013.  Her special research interests include the use of cash transfer programs to improve child outcomes in developing countries, and the use of cash incentives to modify behaviour and improve treatment outcomes. Current work includes the evaluation of child survival interventions in six African countries.

Arrie OdendaalArrie Odendaal
Senior Scientist

Tel: +27 21 938-0454

Arrie Odendaal is a registered research psychologist with experience in understanding and describing the role of lay health workers (LHWs) in addressing health issues in low-income country contexts. He is currently leading a study assessing LHWs’ use of mHealth in the Western Cape. He has an interest in formative evaluations of interventions and the use of audio and visual diary-keeping as alternative method to interviews and focus groups. He coordinates the South African Initiative for Systematic Reviews on Health Policies and Systems (SAI) that is hosted by the Health Systems Research Unit.

Vundli RamokoloVundli Ramokolo
Senior Scientist

Tel: +27 21 938-0549

Vundli Ramokolo is an Epidemiologist with a keen interest in (1) the interactions between nutrition and disease, 2) developmental origins of health and disease and (3) the relation between food security and health outcomes. She is a co-investigator in the South African prevention of mother-to-child-transmission evaluation (SAPMTCTE) and is currently completing her PhD at the University of Bergen (Norway) through the National Health Scholars Programme Scholarship.

Duduzile NsibandeDuduzile Nsibande
Senior Scientist

Tel: +27 31 203-4927

Duduzile Nsibande is a registered nurse-educator with a Masters degree in Public Health obtained from the University of the Western Cape.  Her research experience is in monitoring and evaluation, quality improvement through mentoring within Maternal and Child Health, PMTCT and STIs. She is currently involved with the multi-country evaluation of a child survival intervention. She is based in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal. 

Darshini GovindasamyDarshini Govindasamy
Senior Scientist

Tel: +27 21 938 0365

Ms Darshini Govindasamy is an epidemiologist who is currently extending her skill set into the area of costing and economic evaluations. Her previous research has assessed the attrition and barriers to care along the HIV care cascade in sub-Saharan Africa. She has conducted a series of systematic reviews in the field of HIV and TB, most of which have been commissioned by the World Health Organization. She has developed a strong interest in HIV and sexual reproductive health service provision models for children and adolescents with a focus on access, uptake, linkage to care and understanding how supply and demand factors impact the success of these models. She is currently overseeing a large 5 year CDC-funded project aimed at strengthening school health services implementation in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. This project will form the basis of her PhD studies in Health Economics through the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Palesa Nkomo Palesa Nkomo
Senior Scientist

Tel: +27 12 339-8579

Palesa Nkomo holds a Masters degree in Epidemiology and Biostatistics (University of Witwatersrand). She is responsible for 2 main areas of work (i) Managing a project that aims to compare the antenatal HIV prevalence documented by 3 data sources: SAPMTCT Evaluations, the District Health Information System and Annual Antenatal Surveys. (ii) Knowledge generation and dissemination (writing up postnatal access data from the SAPMTCT Evaluation). Palesa is currently pursuing her doctoral studies through the University of the Witwatersrand.

Vuyolwethu MagasanaVuyolwethu Magasana

Tel: +27 31 203-4913

Vuyolwethu Magasana is a Provincial Coordinator in the SAPMTCT survey evaluating the effectiveness of the PMTCT programme and has been involved in PMTCT surveys for the past 9 years. Her experience includes working as a field worker, supervising data collection, participating in the development of survey questionnaires and SOPs, training field workers and coordinating provincial field work activities. Her strong interests are in developing herself in qualitative research (developing field guides, conducting in-depth interviews, facilitating focus groups and analysis).

Yolisa Mtshizana

Tel: +27 21 938-0401

Yolisa Mtshizana is a social scientist with strong qualitative research skills. Most of her project work focuses on HIV prevention and adolescents and on sexual and reproductive health issues. Her current projects focus on preventing the spread of HIV amongst adolescents, preventing intimate partner violence and helping adolescents develop healthy sexual relationships. Her work also focuses on adolescents’ experiences following HIV testing, and whether they are linked into appropriate care and support services.

Yagespari SinghYagespari Singh
Chief Research Technologist

Tel: +27 31 203-3649

Yagespari Singh is a data manager on the South African prevention of mother-to-child-transmission (SAPMTCT) evaluation study. She has primarily worked on PMTCT studies over the last 7 years with a focus on quality management of data. Other operational interests is the use of mobile technology as a data collection and monitoring tool - which was used in the Goodstart III study and currently used in SAPMTCTE survey.

Trisha RamrajTrisha Ramraj
Chief Research Technologist

Tel: +27 31 203-4811

Trisha Ramraj has an honours degree in Medical Science and is based at the HSRU Durban office. She is currently involved in the project coordination of the SAPMTCT Evaluation (a national survey evaluating the effectiveness of the PMTCT programme) in 3 provinces (Free State, Kwa-Zulu Natal and North West). Her research interests are maternal and child health and HIV prevention in adolescents.

Tshawe NcedanaTshawe Ncedana
Senior Research Technologist

Tel: +27 21 938 0412

Tshawe Ncedana joined MRC in 2010 and is based at the HSRU Cape Town Office. She is currently involved in the project of the SAPMTCT Evaluation (a National survey evaluating the effectiveness of the PMTCT programme).  She is a supervisor of three provinces (Western Cape, Northern Cape and Eastern Cape). Her research interests are maternal and child health and HIV prevention.

Natasha TitusNatasha Titus
Senior Research Technologist

Tel: +27 21 938 0282

Natasha Titus is the Technical & data manager assistant on the South African prevention of mother-to-child-transmission (SAPMTCT) evaluation study. She has primarily worked on the PMTCT study for last two-and-a half years. Her duties include providing data and mobile support to data collectors and members of the team.

Nontombi Memela Nontombi Memela                          
Senior Research Technologist  
Tel: +27 21 938 0282                   

Nontombi Memela has a B-Tech Degree in Environmental Health and is based at the HSRU Cape Town office. She is currently involved in the project of the SAPMTCT Evaluation. Her research interests are infant feeding and child care and HIV prevention.

Nobuntu NoveveNobuntu Noveve
Senior Research Technologist     
Tel: +27 21 938 0694                   

Nobuntu Noveve has worked as a medical technologist in South Africa and abroad. She joined MRC in 2010 as a Logistics Manager on the South African Prevention of mother-to-child Transmission of HIV Evaluation(SAPMTCTE). She is currently working as an Acting Project Manager on the (SAPMTCTE). Her interests are maternal and child health, prevention of HIV and mHealth interventions.

Thantaswa Mbenenge-MgungquthuThantaswa Mbenenge-Mgungquthu
Senior Research Technologist   
Tel: +27 21 938 0412                

Thantaswa Mbenenge-Mgungquthu is a coordinator on the SAPMTCT Evaluation (a national survey evaluating the effectiveness of the PMTCT programme) in three provinces (Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Limpopo).

Sindisiwe Hlangu
Research Technologist (E)

Tel: +27 31 2034750

Sindisiwe Hlangu has a Diploma in Youth Development and is currently enrolled for a B. Ed Degree. She has worked for the HSRU for the past 7 years. She is currently involved in the MDR-TB surveillance study where she collects and captures data. She is also assisting with updating the EDR-web system at MDR-TB clinic at King Dinuzulu Hospital Complex.

sylviaSylvia Louw
Chief Officer     
Tel: +27 21 938-0454

Sylvia Louw is an Administration Officer for the Unit since 1996. She is assisting the Unit staff with admin and research support. 

Jazelle KiewitzJazelle Kiewitz
Chief Officer   

Tel: +27 21 938-0504

Jazelle Kiewitz is a chief officer in administration and the objective of the position is to manage the office and work flow of SAPMTCTE/IHSS Survey within HSRU i.e. including the daily administrative functions. She provides assistance and does liaising with the intra- and extra-mural research units and directorates affiliated with the organization, and she handles the communications from the various stakeholders associated with the organization. Her main purpose is to ensure the effective functioning of the office at managerial level, manage and coordinate priority/focus areas of SAPMTCTE/IHSS - in order to ensure that the survey meets its objectives efficiently and effectively.

Lucille Heyns Lucille Heyns
Assistant Administrator

Tel: +27 21 938-0812

Lucille Heyns provide administrative support to the South African prevention of mother-to-child-transmission (SAPMTCTE) evaluation study. Her duties include administrative support to members of the unit, SAPMTCTE survey and provincial data collectors, in order to ensure that the survey meets its objectives efficiently and effectively.

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Last updated:
30 October, 2015
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