Health Systems Strengthening

DRILL research in the Health Systems area focuses on assessing Health Systems structures that are already in place, in an effort to begin the process of designing a system appropriate for South Africa. This includes looking at funding models, rural versus urban needs, and using systems already in place more effectively. This requires not only looking at society, but also engaging with stakeholders in the Department of Health, to learn what they already do, and working where there is possible synergy in-process and structural systems.

The National Health System in the United Kingdom, and the Affordable Care Act in the United States of America are two versions of health systems that have been developed to provide National Healthcare. Both systems have been under attack, for reasons which are more political than practical. The challenge for South Africa is to design a working system, within a political framework that is also controversial. Working with the Department of Health will avoid some of this controversy, but National Healthcare will always have its detractors. The provision of healthcare to the poorest in the nation is, however, necessary to build a successful society where everyone has an equal chance at a healthy and fulfilled life.

The health systems strengthening track is led by Professor Fatima Suleman.

Professor Varsha Bangalee

Professor Varsha Bangalee holds a BPharm, MPharm (Pharmacoeconomics) and PhD qualifications, all obtained from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. She is currently an associate professor in the Discipline of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN). She additionally has a Post Graduate Diploma in Business Management (UKZN), a Professional Diploma in Pharmacovigilance and Pharmacoepidemiology (James Lind Institute) and a Post Graduate Certificate in Health Economics for Health Professionals (University of Aberdeen).

Dr Mbali Mhlongo

Dr Mbali Mhlongo is a senior lecturer in the School of Nursing & Public Health at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. She is a nurse with expertise in training, facilitation, leadership and supervision. She has facilitated training in a number of priority programmes for the Department of Health including Primary care nurse training, Multi-Drug resistant TB, HIV&AIDS counselling, Clinical HIV/AIDS training programme, Syndromic management of sexually transmitted infections and Sexual & Reproductive health.

Professor Verusia Chetty

Professor Verusia Chetty is a Professor in the Discipline of Physiotherapy, School of Health Sciences, and the academic leader of teaching and learning in the School of Health Sciences at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN). She has practiced as a physiotherapist both nationally and internationally. She is a fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. Her research has a broader impact on society influencing policy and practice, most notably the development of a model of care suitable for serving adults and children with chronic conditions such as HIV.

Dr Shelley Wall

Dr Shelley Wall is a surgeon and runs the Burns Unit at Grey’s Hospital in Pietermaritzburg (KZN). She has been working in the burns unit since 2015 and has decided to focus her career trajectory in the management of burn-injured patients.

Dr Velisha Perumal-Pillay

Dr Velisha Perumal-Pillay is a registered pharmacist and an academic at the Discipline of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Health Sciences, UKZN. She lectures and supervises at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Her field of research is Pharmaceutical Policy Analysis and Access to Medicines with a focus on essential medicines for maternal and child health and those for non-communicable diseases.

Ms Santhana Gengiah

Ms Santhana Gengiah is Public Health Specialist at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She has over 12 years of experience in the field of HIV and TB research. Her current interest is in health systems strengthening with a particular focus on optimizing delivery and enhancing the quality of integrated TB and HIV services in public health settings.

Mr Sithembiso Blose

Mr Sithembiso Blose is a Physiotherapist in KZN DOH at a district hospital for the past 5 years; Coordinator for Disability/Rehabilitation and Mental Health Services for Ilembe district (5 years); Provincial coordinator for Disability & Rehabilitation services for KZN (6 years) and a Lecturer in the Discipline pf Physiotherapy. His research interest is on Community Rehabilitation, with a special focus on disability.

Ms. Vivian Naidoo

Ms. Vivian Naidoo is a pharmacist at Maternal, Adolescent and Child Health (MatCH). Her research interests are in healthcare system strengthening especially with the current South African healthcare system re-engineering.

Mr Mahlomola Kutoane

Mr Mahlomola Kutoane is a nurse and former officer in the Lesotho Defence Force (army). He is currently the Emergency and Medical Coordinator at Storm Mountain Diamonds Kao Mine in Lesotho. His PhD research focuses on developing an intervention for managing professional isolation among emergency nurses working in Lesotho, an action research approach.