About Us

The Health Policy and Systems Division has emerged in response to the continuing national emphasis on health system transformation and a global refocusing on health systems strengthening, both linked to the parallel demand for practitioners and researchers with an understanding of health policy and health systems’ change.

The Division seeks to contribute to the field of health policy and systems research in South Africa, Africa and internationally by conducting innovative research, supporting postgraduate capacity development in the field and active networking.

We are an intentionally interdisciplinary group, drawing on a range of social science perspectives, but with specific expertise in health policy analysis and the application of systems thinking to the health sector.

Our research focuses on better understanding the dynamics of health system development and policy change, with particular concern for issues of governance and stewardship and for the role of the health system in enabling health equity and public value. The primary focus is on health systems as a whole - rather than particular health services, condition-specific programmes or health problems. Health system concerns address the complex range of factors that underpin service delivery (such as human resource development and management, financing and resource allocation, information systems, supply chain management and overarching models of care). Understanding how these factors interact and influence health system performance is an essential starting point for thinking about how to change and strengthen the system.

The Division hosts and supervises students at PhD, Masters and Diploma level. We convene the Masters in Public Health, Health Systems Track – and MPH courses such as Introduction to Health Policy and Systems Research (IHSRE) and Health Policy and Planning (HPP). We also convene the post graduate Diploma in Health Management, otherwise known as the Oliver Tambo Fellowship programme. The Diploma is the longest running health management training programme in South Africa, and is a flagship programme in the Faculty of Health Sciences.

The Division has a strong focus on networking and collaborates with other organisations and individuals engaged in developing the field of health policy and systems research. These networking activities include close collaboration in research and teaching with South African public health leaders and managers, partnership with the School of Public Health at the University of the Western Cape in research and teaching and a range of African and international collaborations.