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FACULTY OF health scienceS
School of Public Health
and Family Medicine
Director: Professor Leslie London
Deputy Director: Associate Professor Derek
Deputy Head for Public Health: Professor
Mohamed Jeebhay
School Profile
The School of Public Health and Family Medicine is a
strong multidisciplinary department in the Faculty of
Health Sciences at the University of Cape Town. Its
teaching, research and service extend to a wide range
of settings and content areas consistent with the evolving
disciplines of Public Health and Family Medicine.
The School is currently comprised of two Divisions –
the Division of Public Health and the Division of Family
Medicine, but discussions are underway following a
response to its 2009 departmental review to re-align its
organisational design.
The Division of Public Health has a wide variety of service,
policy, research and training activities. A focus continues
to be the training of Master’s graduates in public health, as
well as public health medicine and occupational medical
specialists. Along with a postgraduate diploma in health
management, and post-graduate qualifications in Health
Economics, these programmes train a wide range of
public health professionals for consultant and leadership
roles in the public sector. Public Health registrars are
placed at the Provincial Health Department Head Office,
in its programmes directorate and in the various districts
as well as providing support to the Chief Directorate
for Strategy and Health Support, while Occupational
Medicine registrars provide services in a range of tertiary
clinics. The WorkHealth Occupational Diseases Clinic at
GSH, a joint enterprise with the Respiratory Unit, is the
only public sector occupational diseases clinic in the
Western Cape and one of three in the country.
The Division of Family Medicine, headed by Assoc.
Prof. Derek Hellenberg, has as its focus the training of
primary level medical practitioners (family physicians)
in the health (public) sector. It houses the pioneering
South African programme in Palliative Medicine.The
Division has staff on the joint establishment (with the
PGWC Health Department) who have clinical, teaching
and clinical governance responsibilities at a number of
Community Health Centres and District Hospitals. The
Division began training Family Medicine registrars in
February 2008, after family medicine was recognized as
a specialty by the Health Professions Council of South
Africa (HPCSA).
The School runs a very large postgraduate programme,
including 5 postgraduate diplomas, 4 Master’s
programmes, 4 professional Master’s programmes and a
PhD programme. In 2011, there were 394 postgraduate
students in the School including 20 PhD students. Eighty-
eight postgraduate students graduated in 2011, including 6
PhDs, 37 Master’s and 45 postgraduate diploma students.
The Advanced Diploma in Health Management, also known
as the Oliver Tambo Fellowship Programme, continued to
graduate senior health managers from around the country
under its new configuration as a joint programme offered
with the Graduate School of Business. The MPH continues
to operate as the largest taught Master’s programme in the
Faculty, and expanded its intake substantially. We had 187
applicants to the programme in 2011, of whom 60 (32%)
were accepted. This is a decrease in the figure for the
2010 intake of 177 applicants and 65 acceptees (37%).
There were 8 candidates on the clinical research stream
of the MPH aimed at hospital-based clinician-researchers,
which commenced in 2010. Of the 60 students accepted
onto the MPH, 7 from SADC countries, 8 were students
from non-SADC countries and 6 were other international
The School is also playing an increasing role in the
new undergraduate medical curriculum with the aim
of producing medical professionals able to function
effectively at the primary care level and imbued with
an understanding of public health. Public Health and
Health Promotion training to undergraduates take place in
community-based settings and has been instrumental in
pioneering community-placements for MB ChB students
at UCT. A number of initiatives are underway to develop
off-campus teaching sites linked to Community Health
Centres and district hospitals. The Family Medicine division
has been closely involved in supporting the new student
learning centre at Vanguard Community Health Centre and
the rural teaching venue at Vrendenburg. It has also been
central to innovations regarding language skills in courses
teaching undergraduates professionalism for which it won
a PAN South African Language Board award in 2011.
Research - overview
There are four URC-accredited research entities within the
School, residing under the Public Health Division: Health
Economics, Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Women’s
Health Research and Occupational and Environmental
Health Research, as well as growing activities in Health
Policy and Health Systems Studies and in Health and
Human Rights. Research outputs in 2011 included 139
peer-reviewed journal publications, 1 book and 6 book
chapters.Total research grant and contract income to the
School was R 27,784,359 in 2011.