CHP appoints Professor John Eyles as DST/NRF Chair

The Centre for Health Policy (CHP) has appointed Professor John Eyles, an eminent international research scientist, as the new Chair for Health Policy and Systems Research.

This is one of 60 new chairs allocated within the South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI) programme of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), administered by the National Research Foundation (NRF), and one of three new chairs awarded to Wits. The purpose of the SARChI programme is to bring international experts to South Africa for an initial five-year term to conduct research in areas deemed important for the challenges facing the country. It is one of three granted in health systems research.

The research portfolio associated with this chair will focus on universal access (also referred to asuniversal coverage) to quality care for all South Africans. This is necessary to strengthen the public health system’s ability to use resources effectively and efficiently, while increasing the production of skilled health workers.

Professor Eyles is world-renowned in the field of health systems and policy research, and will strengthen the field in South Africa as the Department of Health embarks on a major health systems reform program to boost the country’s health outcomes which fall below international targets in some areas.

He has published widely in the field with over 170 publications, and has supervised 30 PhD students. Some of his papers have become standards for citation, especially in qualitative methods, healthcare resource allocation and public involvement in health care decision-making. His particular areas of expertise include population health status and need; access and equity in health care; health care financing; human resources; governance and stakeholder participation; and the development of decision support tools to enable the transfer of research to practice.

Prof Eyles is co-supervising the PhD of a staff member of CHP, and is involved in various collaborations within the Wits School of Public Health to mentor and build research and writing capacity. He has worked with the School for over six years, during which time he has brought new insights to understanding the South African health system and its challenges. He has demonstrated enthusiastic commitment to supporting and building capacity of researchers at CHP and within the School.

Alsobased at McMaster University in Canada, Prof. Eyles was a Research Chair there for six years before becoming Director of the McMaster Institute of Environment and Health, a research institute focusing on health and the environment. He has worked extensively internationally, developing research and practice partnerships across disciplines and sectors. These networks will strengthen CHP’s connections with other universities working in the field.

“I am delighted that John has accepted this position, as his involvement will make a vital contribution to the major reform being carried out by the South African government, and to the goals of working towards a more equitable and socially just health system,” said CHP’s director, Dr Jane Goudge.

“His spirit of collegiality and his strong mentorship skills will be a huge asset to both CHP and the School as a whole, and we welcome him to South Africa,” said Dr Goudge.

Prof. Eyles takes up the position from January 2014, and will spend six months a year with CHP.

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