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Gender, Health and Justice Research Unit

This unit is involved in cross disciplinary research which is aimed at addressing the high levels of violence against women in South Africa. The Unit collaborates with a wide range of stakeholders from NGOs to government departments. The method of engaging is innovative in that it involves the stakeholder at every stage of the research process and all it s work is grounded on relevant empirically based “research for reform”. The unit has an impressive publication record which is used extensively to reform SA’s laws on sexual offences. Although the unit is soft funded, its quality of work and research has gained international reputation and as a result its members are consulted regularly by national and international organisations and are also regularly commissioned to undertake work by government departments.

In terms of teaching the members of the unit teach and supervise in a number of UCT faculties and departments (gynaecology, forensic medicine, public health, law, social work, psychiatry and mental health.)

Professor Di McIntyre

Professor McIntyre’s understanding of health care financing systems is rooted in good scholarly work. She has a strong commitment to social justice and has combined her role as an academic and activist seamlessly. Her engagement with civil society, industry and policy makers in the current debate on National Health Insurance (NHI) has helped these constituencies better understand the complexities of financing a national health scheme. Through her presentations in workshops outside the university, opinion pieces in the newspapers and interviews she has made her work accessible to a many organisations that were not aware of the complex health issues and legislation. Her role as a public intellectual in the field of health economic has enhanced the university’s engagement with national, continental and international challenges. She has conducted numerous workshops with industry and NGOs and these are evidence of shared planning

Her work with external constituencies has also benefitted research and teaching. In 2007 she was awarded an NRF chair to head up a programme of research on Health and Wealth. This has allowed her to look at social determinants of health in the African context. The NRF chair is evidence of the sustainability of her work. With regards to teaching Professor McIntyre has made immense contributions in terms of socially responsive teaching and learning. Under her directorship, the Health Economics Unit (HEU) started a Masters in Health Economics in 1996 and a Masters in Public Health in Health Economics in 1999; these programmes remain the only ones of their kind in Anglophone Africa. Approximately 100 health economists have been trained since inception, which is the vast majority of those trained in Africa. Professor McIntyre gives input into two taught modules on these programmes, with a particular emphasis on health care financing and equity issues, including as related to health insurance. She has supervised three masters mini-dissertations on community based health insurance/NHI (in Ghana), and is currently supervising another on the experience of OECD countries in achieving universal coverage through NHI. Linked to the SHIELD project, Professor McIntyre supervises two PhD colleagues from Ghana and one from Tanzania.

Dr Ailsa Holloway

Disaster risk science is a field that is innovative and ground breaking. Initially, the focus on disasters and risks was not seen as intellectually robust hence Disaster Mitigation for Sustainable Development Project (DIMP) was established as an “NGO in a university”. Through Dr Holloway’s commitment DIMP began researching local disaster risks and generating new knowledge that would support risk management in SA and that could also add value in existing international knowledge. In 2003 the Disaster Risk Science post graduate programme was approved by the Science Faculty in 2003.

In terms of facilitating relationships which have enhanced the university, DiMP has provided an institutional platform for a wide-ranging engagement with government and civil society stakeholders. It also generated important insights in disaster risk knowledge requirements of key stake-holder constituencies (such as local and provincial government representatives and disaster managers). Dr Holloway was appointed by the Portfolio Committee for Provincial and Local Government as technical adviser to the parliamentary deliberations on the Disaster Management Bill. She was then approached by the National Disaster Management Centre to coordinate the drafting of the National Disaster Management Framework.

The new knowledge on disasters and risks generated through her hands-on approach to working with the most vulnerable communities has enriched curriculum on disaster management. The teaching and learning methodology has connected students with the affected communities and which in turn has enriched the programmes.  There is unquestionably strong intellectual rigor in these programmes. It arises from the exciting, innovative and emerging field of study itself:  applied disaster risk research is contextually highly relevant to the Western Cape, socially responsive and methodologically robust.  

The passion and commitment of Dr Holloway, its support in Environmental Geographic Sciences (EGS) and its growing reputation as cutting edge field of study in Africa and internationally will sustain this initiative.