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Health Economics

  • About Us

    Head of Division:  Professor Edina Sinanovic BSc (Econ) Zagreb DipFinMgt Maastricht MCom (HealthEcon) Cape Town PhD (Health Econ) London

    Welcome to the Health Economics Division

    The Health Economics Division works to improve the performance of health systems in sub-Saharan Africa through policy relevant teaching and research in health economics and health systems.

    The key objective of the Division is to teach at the post-graduate level to develop capacity in health economics and related health systems research in Africa. We convene the Master’s in Public Health (Health Economics track), and supervise PhD candidates. We also offer the online postgraduate Diploma in Health Economics which focuses on some of the specific health economic skills and concepts needed in the pursuit of universal health coverage.  

    Our research maintains a balance between conceptual and applied research as well as between topics of local and international relevance, and focuses on four thematic areas of research, namely universal coverage and financing, governance and decision-making, economic evaluation and social determinants of health.  There is a strong emphasis on equity in our research, particularly to identify ways of promoting health system equity.  Another area to which we contribute on an on-going basis is the evaluation of cost-effectiveness of alternative preventative, diagnostic and treatment interventions for diseases of major public health concern, in particular TB and HIV. 

    The Health Economics Division collaborates with a number of South African and international institutions in its research and training activities, and participates in a number of networks. The Division also collaborates with the national and various provincial and local Departments of Health in South Africa on research projects.

    Contact Information:

    Division of Health Economics
    School of Public Health and Family Medicine
    Faculty of Health Sciences
    University of Cape Town
    South Africa

    Administrative Officer:  Mrs Latiefa Adams
    Tel: +27 21 406 6558
    Fax:+27 21 448 8152
    Email: Latiefa Adams

  • Undergraduate Teaching

    The Health Economics Division does not offer Undergraduate Teaching.

  • Postgraduate Teaching

    The Masters in Public Health (MPH) specialising in Health Economics

    The MPH in Health Economics track examines health systems from both the macro‐ and micro‐economics perspectives. The curriculum has a low and middle income country focus, and while theoretical components are included, the programme concentrates on the development of practical research skills that are useful to graduates working in African health systems.

    The course is designed for graduates in social or health sciences who have worked/or will work in the health sector in low‐ and middle‐income countries. Masters’ participants are encouraged to undertake their dissertation research in their countries of origin. In this way, the Masters is making a contribution to empirical research of key health economics issues in a range of African countries.
    Over 140 students have successfully completed the programme and graduated. Our past graduates have taken up job placements in the academia, public and private establishments and international agencies. The Masters programme has also played a role in raising the profile of the University of Cape Town within the African region. Through financial support from the Sida, the HEU has provided bursaries to 60 students to undertake their Masters studies.

    Courses taught by the Division include:

    • Quantitative Methods for Health Economists
    • Microeconomics for the Health Sector
    • Theory and Application of Economic Evaluation in Health Care
    • The Economics of Health Systems

    Download the programme brochure for more details.

    Postgraduate Diploma in Health Economics

    The Postgraduate Diploma in Health Economics aims to enable the development of some of the most important health economics capacities needed to support the movement towards Universal Health Coverage, with a specific focus on South Africa and similar contexts. Key content areas include economic evaluation, health technology assessment and strategic purchasing, amongst others. 

    The diploma is designed as a part-time mixed mode programme (including online learning and contact blocks in Cape Town) aimed primarily for full time employees of governments (Ministries of Health and Finance), health insurance schemes, and international organisations. It takes a minimum of 2 years to complete.

    The minimum entry requirement is an undergraduate degree in economics, health sciences, social sciences, or equivalent, from an approved university. Because spaces are limited, entry to the diploma is competitive.

    Detailed information is available in the Programme Brochure

    The Division offers PhD supervision and is currently hosting 17 PhD students. Since the start of the PhD programme in 1998, 24 PhD degrees were awarded.

  • Research

    The Health Economics Division conducts high quality research in health economics and health systems through its Health Economics Unit (HEU). 

    Please refer to the HEU web page on Research Activities

  • Links

  • Staff

    Edina Sinanovic, Professor and Head of Division


    Email:  Edina.Sinanovic@uct.ac.za

    Phone: 021 406 6575



    I am Professor and Head of the Health Economics Division in the School of Public Health and Family Medicine at the University of Cape Town. I have training in economics and health economics. I did my PhD at the LSHTM, and have worked in the field of health economics in South Africa since 1997. My research falls within three areas: economic evaluation of health care interventions, especially in relation to tuberculosis, HIV, cancer and STIs; economic considerations in vaccination, with an emphasis on the economic modelling of new vaccines; and the cost of scaling up health care interventions.

    I have extensive teaching and student supervision experience. I teach Theory and Application of Economic Evaluation in Health Care on the MPH, and Economic Evaluation for Health Care Decision Making on the Postgraduate Diploma in Health Economics. My doctoral students are studying topics including economic evaluation of interventions for prevention of pediatric drug resistant TB, extended cost effectiveness analysis of publicly funded interventions for early detection and treatment of breast cancer, and cost-effectiveness of models of prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV intervention.

    I am a member of the Executive Committee of the Pharmaceutical & Technology Clinical Management Association of South Africa (PTCMA), with a focus on research and education.

    I have served on the WHO Immunization and Vaccines related Implementation Research (IVIR) Advisory Committee. In 2020, I was appointed a member of the Strategic Scientific Advisory Board of the Botnar Research Centre for Child Health (BRCCH) at the University of Basel, Switzerland, which is dedicated to advancing global child and adolescent health.

    John Ataguba, Professor and Director: Health Economics Unit


    Email:  John.Ataguba@uct.ac.za

    Phone:  021 404 7701




    John Ataguba is an economist.  He is also a Commonwealth scholar and an elected member of the South African Young Academy of Science.  He has taught topics in economics for over 10 years.  His current research interests include poverty, inequality, equity in health and health care, social determinants of health, and health financing.

    Susan Cleary, Associate Professor

    Email:  Susan.Cleary@uct.ac.za

    Phone:  021 406 6755



    Sue Cleary is a Health Economist and Health Systems Researcher with over 15 years’ experience. She has held a number of teaching and research capacity development/leadership roles in the School of Public Health & Family Medicine including Director of the Health Economics Unit (2007-2011), convener of the Postgraduate Diploma in Health Economics (2007-2014), convener of the PhD Programme (2014 to date) and coordinator of Postgraduate Programmes (2014 to 2016). Over a 6-year period, Sue led an 8-country Health Economics capacity development programme that included a unique network of Health Economists (HEPNet) and the administration of 30 bursaries to African candidates on the Masters in Public Health specialising in Health Economics. As of March 2017, 1 PhD and 21 Masters candidates have graduated under her supervision.

    Olufunke Alaba, Senior Lecturer


    Email:  Olufunke.Alaba@uct.ac.za

    Phone:  021 406 6576




    Olufunke Alaba is a Senior Lecturer in the Health Economics Unit and convenor of the Health Economics track in the Master of Public Health Programme. She is involved in teaching and research of health economics and health policy issues as well as the application of various Economic principles and tools to understanding and improving health outcomes, observed differentials in health and health outcomes, promoting economic growth and development.  Olufunke joined the Transformation Committee as Chair in February 2020.

    Lucy Cunnama, Senior Lecturer


    Email:  Lucy.Cunnama@uct.ac.za

    Phone:  021 406 6754




    Lucy Cunnama started working in the Health Economics Unit in May 2012. Her undergraduate degree was in Physiotherapy, after which she worked in the Eastern Cape at a rural hospital. Working in this environment inspired her to study public health and she finished her Master’s (MPH) degree in 2011, specializing in Health Economics. She currently supervises five MPH students, is on the Departmental Research Committee for the School of Public Health and Family medicine, co-convenes and teaches on the MPH health economics track and leads a module for the online Postgraduate Diploma in Health Economics. She is also a Health Economist on the Department of Health’s National TB Think Tank. Her research interests include economic evaluation; access to health care in the South African setting; tuberculosis diagnostics and treatment; paediatric pneumonia; and models of care relating to the prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV.

    Sumaiyah Docrat, Lecturer


    Email:  s.docrat@uct.ac.za

    Phone:  021 406 6129





    Sumaiyah Docrat is a Health Economist and Health Systems Researcher with over with 8 years of experience working across African, Asian and South American health systems.   She joined the Health Economic Division as a Lecturer in 2020, having spent 7 years working as a health economics researcher in the Alan J Flisher Centre for Public Mental Health (UCT).  She has cultivated a track record of successful collaborations across global academic, governmental, and healthcare partners. Sumaiyah received her Masters degree in Public Health specialising in Health Economics from UCT in 2012, and was awarded a PhD by UCT in December 2020.  Additionally, she holds a Honours Bachelor of Health Sciences awarded by the University of Ottawa (Canada) in 2009. 

    In addition to being involved in teaching and student supervision within the Divison, Sumaiyah is passionate about being responsive to the needs of decision makers in LMICs.  Her primary areas of interest include investment case development (for mental health/NCDs), priority-setting, health technology assessment and examining levels of financial protection.  Her work has focussed on collaborating with health- and finance-sector partners to build the case for investing in mental health in the Global South, adapting methods to address these contexts. 

    Amarech Obse, Research Officer




    Phone:  021 406 6752





    Amarech Obse has joined the Health Economic Unit in 2015 as a post-doctoral research fellow. Her main area of research is health care financing and economics of stated preferences. Her current research focuses on analysis of health financing mechanisms and reforms in Africa and their effect on the Universal Health Coverage, the role of legal framework and regulations for private healthcare services under publicly funded systems in low- and middle-income countries, and preference elicitation for healthcare services.

    She holds a Ph.D from Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. Her Ph.D research provided an
    analysis of demand for health insurance in Ethiopia, focusing on preferences of civil servants for social health insurance plans. She has a Master’s and Bachelor’s  degrees in Economics from Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia. She previously worked at Addis Ababa University School of Public Health as a research assistant and lecturer.

    Emeritus Professor

    Diane McIntyre

    Honorary Senior Lecturer

    Veloshnee Govender

    Administrative Staff

    Latiefa Adams Postgraduate Administrative Officer (021) 406 6558
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