CHP at PHASA conference

A number of CHP students participated in the PHASA conference held in East London from 19 to 22 September 2016.

Shakira Choonara, a PhD fellow, delivered the keynote address at the Junior Public Health Association (JuPHASA) Health Conference. She called and encouraged for action-agents, change and the role of youth in shaping the development agenda, especially in health. The keynote address titled “Our work, our research and our actions matter! Shakira Choonara’s keynote address at JuPHASA conference”- ( ) received excellent exposure through being published on the European Union (EU) Young Leaders for Development Blog and promoted through the Emerging Voices for Global Health Venture. This allowed for further discussions and engagement with multiple youth and international stakeholders post the conference.

Faith Mambulu, another PhD fellow, presented her preliminary findings titled: Lessons from the Healthcare Referral Systems for Children with Severe Acute Malnutrition in South Africa’s National Health Insurance (NHI) Pilot Sub-District. The presentation was co-authored with her supervisors Professor Eyles and Doctor Ditlopo. Generally she discussed the referral performance and possible solutions for the study district in reference to the components of a successful referral system. Furthermore, she discussed the relevance and challenges faced when implementing the NHI innovations in the context of executing successful referral practices for children with severe acute malnutrition from communities through clinics to a district hospital.

Jackie Roseleur, CHP’s grants manager and an MPH student, presented her work on the development of a composite indicator of maternal and child health performance among districts in South Africa. This study found that multivariate statistical methods may be useful in summarising and evaluating health system performance across a range of maternal and child health indicators. The Principal Component Analysis (PCA) method that was used reduced the number of variables from 18 indicators to one PC score, and allowed the ranking of districts by performance.

CHP’s director, Jane Goudge, leads the PHASA Special Interest Group (SIG) for Health systems and hosted a workshop at the PHASA meeting. The purpose of the SIG is to provide a platform for the Public Health Community in South Africa to engage and discuss the emerging field of health policy and systems research. The workshop at the 2016 conference created an opportunity for people from different disciplines and practices to discuss key issues in HSPR – in order to establish common ground for collaborative engagement, and to better establish South Africa as an internationally recognized site for HPSR practice. We have developed a website and Facebook page to facilitate communication and

The workshop comprised two parts. The first part was a panel discussion with panellists from leading South Africa health policy and system research units and National Department of Health. The purpose was to discuss the NHI white paper, drawing on the three recent submissions from the three institutions represented by the panellists. In order to facilitate an in-depth dialogue we held a ‘in conversation’ style event, in which the academic panellists agreed a series of topics in advance, and shared these with the representatives of national government before the event. The aim was to enable a dialogue on the substantive issues, and hence to deepen the debate around NHI. This was followed by an open discussion (initially in groups and then as a plenary) on the HSP research required to support the move towards universal coverage as well as national health insurance. The group generated ideas, and a possible future research agenda to support the national Department of Health.

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