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 21 938-0247

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.

Ameena GogaAmeena Goga
Deputy Director

Chief Specialist Scientist
Tel: +27 12 339-8524

Ameena Goga is a paediatrician with a strong interest in preventing maternal and child co-morbidity, the epidemiology of early childhood illnesses, and community paediatrics. Her research over the past ten years her research has focused on infant feeding and the early and late population-level impact of the South African Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) programme. She holds an Extraordinary Professorship at the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, University of Pretoria.

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, infant feeding, multi-country 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.

Arvin Bhana Arvin Bhana
Chief Specialist Scientist

Tel: +27 31 203-4892

Arvin Bhana is a clinical psychologist whose research focuses on child and adolescent mental health and well-being and the integration of mental health into primary care among adults. His work in child and adolescent mental health uses evidence-based approaches to promote resilience mechanisms. Implementation science approaches are used to scale up integration of mental health into primary care among adults. His research also extends to brief interventions for substance use. Arvin is an Honorary Associate Professor in the Centre for Rural Health in the School of Nursing and Public Health at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He is also a lead investigator in the DST/NRF Centre of Excellence in Human Development at the University of Witwatersrand. Arvin is an associate member in the Adolescent Health Research Unit of the Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health, and the Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Research Unit at SAMRC.

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 health systems researcher at the MRC and at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. 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 a new approach for assessing how much confidence to place in findings from qualitative evidence syntheses; on evidence-based strategies for improving communication about childhood vaccination; and on supporting research evidence use in low- and middle-income countries. He is a joint Co-ordinating Editor for the Cochrane Effective Practice and Organisation of Care Group.

marianMarian Loveday
Specialist Scientist

Tel: +27 33 345-2778, 082 441 7040

Marian Loveday is a specialist scientist with a focus on TB, drug-resistant TB (DR-TB) and health systems research. Her research over the last eight years has focussed on evaluating different models of care for DR-TB patients across South Africa and how health systems performance impacts on programme performance. This work has included documenting the experiences of patients with DR-TB, the caregivers of children with DR-TB and health care worker experiences.

karenKaren Daniels
Specialist Scientist

Tel: +27 21 938-0836/0911

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.

natalieNatalie Leon
Specialist Scientist

Tel: +27 21 938-0454

Natalie Leon is a specialist scientist who focusses on two key research strategies to contribute health systems evidence: process evaluations alongside complex interventions and evidence synthesis. Her process evaluation research findings have shown the importance of the health system context in shaping outcomes in a range of service delivery areas studied, including testing the effectiveness of provider-initiated HIV testing, analysing development of rapid diagnostics for MDR-TB, the UNICEF Integrated Health System Strengthening (IHSS) programme and evaluation of scalability of innovative mHealth care for community-based and chronic care. Her evidence synthesis research includes quantitative systematic reviews of routine health information and relatively new qualitative synthesis methods (task shifting for safe home-based abortion care and mHealth care). She is currently leading a multi-country, multi-stage process evaluation of a mHealth, text message-based randomised controlled trial for adherence to diabetes care and is co-investigator for an innovative study aimed at harnessing routine health information for facility and community-based collaboration on increasing linkage to HIV care for men. She is an Honorary Assistant Professor at Brown University USA.

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.

wangaWanga Zembe
Specialist Scientist

Tel: +27 21 938-0803

Wanga Zembe is a social scientist with a PhD from Oxford University, who has worked on several maternal and child health research projects in the Unit. Her focal area is Social Policy and Health, with special research interests in the intersection between state income maintenance programmes, poverty alleviation strategies and health outcomes. Current work focuses on the use of cash transfer programs to improve child outcomes, particularly child nutrition, in low and middle income countries.

Witness ChirindaWitness Chirinda
Specialist Scientist
+27 21 938 0282

Witness Chirinda has a background in demography, and holds a PhD from the University of the Western Cape. He is currently involved in South African Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (SAPMTCT) evaluation programme. His research interests include maternal and child health research including prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV, and programme evaluation.

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 a Co-PI in a birth cohort assessing the utilisation of the CSG and its link to dietary diversity and child growth. Vundli is currently completing her PhD at the University of Bergen (Norway) through the National Health Scholars Programme Scholarship.

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 contexts. He has a keen interest in formative evaluations of interventions and in conducting systematic reviews. He coordinates the South African Initiative for Systematic Reviews on Health Policies and Systems (SAI) that is hosted by the Health Systems Research Unit.

Duduzile NsibandeDuduzile Nsibande
Senior Scientist

Tel: +27 31 203-4891

Duduzile Nsibande is a registered nurse-educator. Her research experience is within maternal, and child health and includes prevention of mother-to-child-transmission of HIV, infant feeding, programme evaluation and data quality improvement. She holds a Masters degree in Public Health from the University of the Western Cape (UWC).  

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 health 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/TB and other chronic disease 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 currently initiating a new project in KwaZulu-Natal aiming to assess the health-related quality of life, wellbeing and the cost of HIV care provision among HIV-positive children and adolescents. This project forms the basis of her PhD study in Health Economics which she has registered for at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (Faculty of Public Health and Policy, Global Health Department). Darshini’s PhD is funded by the National Health Scholarship Programme and her study is funded through NRF Thuthuka Programme and SAMRC Intramural Award.

Yagespari SinghYagespari Singh
Senior Scientist

Tel: +27 31 203-4853

Yagespari Singh is a data manager with a Masters in Public Health obtained from the
University of Western Cape. Her work over the last 9 years has been in Prevention of
Mother to Child Transmission studies. Her research experience is on quality management
with focus on data management and research ethics. Other operational interests are the use
 of technology for data collection viz mobile phones aa a data collection and monitoring tool
which has been used in various studies that she was involved in. She is based in Durban,

Tracy McClinton Appollis
Senior Scientist

Tel: +27 21 938-0451

Tracy McClinton Appollis is a qualified mental health counsellor registered with the HPCSA working as a research co-ordinator on a 3 year CDC-funded project on the Impact Evaluation of the Global Health Young Women and Girls Intervention in 10 South African Districts. She has an Mphil degree in Public Mental Health and has experience working on projects focussed on HIV and violence prevention and promoting healthy sexual relationships among adolescents in schools.

Lieve Vanleeuw Lieve Vanleeuw
Senior Scientist

Tel: +27219380821; +27720478379

Lieve Vanleeuw is a social scientist with a research focus on TB, DR-TB and health systems. She is currently working on documenting and evaluating different models of care for DR-TB patients in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape. She is furthermore involved in research looking at point-of-care TB diagnostic tools and passive case finding strategies.

Donela Besada
Senior Scientist

Tel: +27 21 938-0454

Donela Besada is working in the areas of maternal and child health services, community models of care, programme and economic evaluations. Her work includes a multi-country evaluation of an integrated health system strengthening initiative as well as a programme focusing on strengthening community and facility based service delivery in the area of prevention of mother to child HIV transmission. She also does costing work in the area of community health services in South Africa and a costing effectiveness study of m-health technology in Malawi and South Africa. She is currently working on her postgraduate diploma in health economics from the University of Cape Town.

Hlengiwe Moloi 
Senior Scientist

+27 21 938 0601

Hlengiwe Moloi holds a Master’s Degree in Public Health from the University of Cape (UCT). Currently she conducts rapid evidence syntheses for policy makers and is leading a standard systematic review. Additionally, she is a PHD student at UCT. Her thesis focuses on public health interventions to prevent rheumatic heart disease in Africa. Hlengiwe is also a junior lecture in the Evidence based unit at UCT.

Vuyolwethu MagasanaVuyolwethu Magasana

Tel: +27 31 203-4913

Vuyolwethu Magasana is a Project Leader who completed a Masters Degree in Public Health from the University of Western Cape. She has been involved in PMTCT surveys for the past 10 years and 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. She has worked as the Provincial Coordinator in the SAPMTCT survey evaluating the effectiveness of the PMTCT programme and has been involved with the multi-country evaluation of Option B+. She has strong qualitative research skills and her current work is focused on maternal and infant antiretroviral adherence.

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.

Trisha RamrajTrisha Ramraj

Tel: +27 31 203-4811

Trisha Ramraj is based at the Durban office. She has an Honours degree in Medical Science and is currently studying towards her MPH at UKZN. She has previously been in involved in the project co-ordination of clinical trials at the TB and HIV Units and has recently coordinated the SAPMTCT evaluation in the Free State, KZN and North West provinces. Her research interests are maternal and child health and HIV prevention in adolescents.

Yoliswa Nokwazi Mzobe

Tel: +27 31 203 4894

Yoliswa is based at the Durban office. She is a social scientist with a keen interest in Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis (MDR-TB). Yoliswa is currently involved in the following two MDR-TB studies: (i) an assessment of the mortality outcomes of patients who completed MDR-TB treatment, and (ii) documenting pregnancy outcomes of women who were taking MDR-TB treatment whilst pregnant.

Vincent Maduna
Senior Data Manager

Tel: + 27 21 938 0213

Vincent Maduna holds a Master in Science in Statistics from the University of the Free State. He is currently a Senior Data Manager for the South African prevention of mother-to-child-transmission evaluation (SAPMTCTE) studies. His research interest is on statistical modeling to enhance the understanding of HIV epidemiology amongst mothers and their infants.

Natasha TitusNatasha Titus
Senior Research Technologist

Tel: +27 21 938 0412

Natasha Titus is the Technical & Data Manager Assistant on the South African prevention of mother-to-child-transmission (SAPMTCT) evaluation study. Her duties include providing technical/mobile and data support to data collectors and members of the team. Her research interests are in Health Information & Data Management.

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 Project Coordinator 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 the coordinator for the Child Support Grant (CSG) and Child nutrition studies. This is a birth cohort assessing the utilisation of the CSG and its link to dietary diversity and child growth.

Sindisiwe Hlangu
Research Technologist (S)

Tel: +27 31 2034893

Sindisiwe Hlangu has worked for the HSRU for the past 8 years and has been involved in several studies. She has worked as a fieldworker where she was involved in data collection, administration of the Informed Consent and reimbursement of participants. Her work experience also involved supervision of Community Health Workers in the Maternal and Neonatal study in Umlazi, interviewing Professional Health Care workers and clinic records review for data quality improvement in the KwaZulu Natal Districts. She was also assisting with updating the EDR-web system at MDR-TB clinic at King Dinuzulu Hospital Complex. She is currently involved in the drug-resistant TB study conducting in-depth interviews with patients, reviewing records, transcribing, translating and data capturing.

Mbalenhle Ngubane
NRF Intern

Tel: +27 31 203-4858

Mbalenhle Ngubane holds a Bachelor of Social Sciences and an Honors degree in Psychology, and studying towards a Master’s in Health Promotion at the University of KwaZulu Natal. Her current research involvements are the MhINT (Mental Health Integration) project and the VUKA EKHAYA project based in the UKZN, focusing on HIV positive children between the ages of 9-14 years, together with their caregivers. Mbalenhle’s research interest is on mental health integration and implementation of services to increase awareness of mental health problems within rural communities.

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
Senior officer

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.

Ntombifikile MbathaNtombifikile Mbatha

Tel: +27 31 203 4858

Ntombifikile Mbatha provides administration support to the members of the Health Systems Research Unit (TB &PMTCT). She has joined HSRU in June 2015 and had previously worked in the MRC Malaria Research Unit for 6 years. She has been working as an administrator for more than 15 years and her duties included office administration, data encoding and customer service.

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Last updated:
13 April, 2017
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