University of Cape Town School of Public Health

Member profile

The University of Cape Town's School of Public Health (UCTSPH) has almost 250 postgraduate students registered for one of 13 different qualifications in public health, family medicine, palliative medicine, health economics, health management and occupational health. A number of these are offered as flexible on-off campus programmes. In its teaching of medical undergraduates it emphasises primary health care principles, including community oriented practice, holistic patient management and the use of public health sciences to promote health and prevent disease. UCTSPH's mission is to achieve excellence in research, education and service in public health and family medicine, in pursuit of equity and social justice. It is closely associated with the Department of Health in the Provincial Government of the Western Cape, and it also has consultancy arrangements with the national departments of Labour, Mineral and Energy Affairs.

Main activities

UCTSPH's staff provides services in clinical care, health personnel training, measurement, evaluation and policy formulation. This service platform enables the school to relate its teaching and research activities to real social need and practice. It recognizes that the primary challenge for a South African public healthcare system lies in preventing injury, disease, resultant disability and premature death, providing appropriate care for patients and reducing health inequalities. The School, therefore, seeks to contribute to achieving these goals through high levels of service and healthcare consultancy, as well as in its standards of teaching and relevance of its research activities. The School has four dedicated research units – in health economics, women’s health, occupational and environmental health and infectious disease epidemiology – and programmes in health and human rights and birth defects surveillance. This enables UCTSPH to sustain a range of research projects, from student initiated dissertation research to multicentre trials, many of these in collaboration with local and international partners.

Links to the health workforce crisis

UCTSPH's service and consultancy agreements extend to international and local NGOs, as well as trade unions and private companies. UCTSPH strives to foster local and global networks for occupational and environmental health promotion through collaboration with United Nations and other agencies. It implements the results of research in teaching, training, policy, service provision and outreach. UCTSPH has a diverse involvement in human rights teaching, research and advocacy.

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