School of Public Health, University of the Western Cape

Member profile

The University of the Western Cape in Cape Town, South Africa is an accredited Higher Education provider. Its School of Public Health (SOPH) has been in existence since 1993. The SoPH’s vision is one of transforming the health sector from a curative, hospital-oriented service to a quality, comprehensive and community based system, through developing and strengthening public health practice. The main areas of focus of the School to date have been: Primary Health Care, district health management, human resource development, health promotion, health information systems, water and sanitation, nutrition, HIV/AIDS and TB, and school health.

Main activities

The SOPH/UWC offers a Masters and PhD in Public Health, as well as numerous continuing education courses in its Winter and Summer Schools which to date have been attended by close on 8000 health care providers and managers.

The School presently offers a Masters in Public Health with several specializations, including in the area of human resources. In 2008 275 Masters students are registered at the SOPH, of which only 30% come from South Africa. 70% come from about a dozen African countries north of South Africa. The Programme is non-residential and is offered through a mixed mode of delivery, including resource-based learning and optional contact sessions at the University of the Western Cape. This offers an advantage to health professionals who need to study while maintaining work, family and other commitments.

Links to the health workforce crisis

The School has collaborated closely with WHO Headquarter and and AFRO Regional Office for many years and was designated as a WHO Collaborating Centre for Research and Training in Human Resources for Health in 2004. Recently the School developed an electronic resource centre for HRH in Africa. Furthermore, the School conducts research in many aspects of health workforce development, including HR information systems, strengthening of PHC teams, roles of mid- and community-level health workers, HR requirements in priority health programmes.

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