MissionCollaborative partnersTeaching and trainingResearch


Health Education Consultant:  Dr Jawaya Shea

Jawaya Shea currently leads the Child Health Unit located in the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health at the University of Cape Town. She  specialised in neonatal intensive care and public health and worked within the Peninsula Maternal and Neonatal Services in Cape Town as a clinician and educator. In 1995 she joined the Western Cape Community Partnership Project team at the University of the Western Cape and Cape Peninsula University of Technology to advance community-based education, problem-based learning and collaborative curriculum development with academics, health service providers and communities. In 1997 she joined the Child Health Unit at the University of Cape Town to transform a block-release master’s programme into a technology-based, mixed-mode programme incorporating problem-based learning and community-based education.

She has expertise in public health, health and development, primary health care, the structure and function of the district health system, perinatal health, health systems management, health promotion, human resources for health (the public health workforce), policy development, child rights and advocacy, adolescent health, reproductive health, the integrated management of childhood illness, challenges and controversies that effect HIV & AIDS education, prevention, and control, communicable disease prevention and management, health information systems, essential support services, project management, good clinical practice, partnerships with human subjects in clinical research, and health systems research. 

Research interests include perinatal health, reproductive health, health promotion research, adolescent participation in clinical research, health workforce research, health behaviours and lifestyle choices that impact on health, HIV & AIDS research, PMTCT programme evaluation, educational research and policy analysis.

In terms of education, she has expertise in curriculum development, adult learning practices, problem-based learning, community-based education, elearning, and integrated assessment practices in health professions education and training. She is passionate about strengthening health systems leadership, and  advancing a social justice model of health care.

Head of Department Neurodevelopment:  Dr Kirsten Donald



Consultant in Neurodevelopment Department:  Dr Reneva Petersen



Director, Perinatal Mental Health Project: Dr Simone Honikman

Dr Simone Honikman has extensive experience working in the public sector in women’s health both as a clinician and as a service manager. This experience, together with her postgraduate qualifications, in particular, a Masters degree aimed to develop programme managers in public health, affords her a unique combination of skills.

Dr Honikman founded and currently directs the Perinatal Mental Health Project (www.pmhp.za.org), based at the University of Cape Town and operating in several health facilities in the greater Cape Town area. This Project is the only one of its kind in South Africa. It addresses a significant unmet need in maternal health within an overstretched public health care system.

Her work philosophy includes the development of sustainable maternal mental health services integrated within the general public health environment. Her interest rests with preventative interventions and the development of social capital among staff and communities served. She has instituted systems for ongoing audit of services as well as providing a sound base for the development of focussed, analytic research projects. Dr Honikman is a regular teacher and trainer in the health care community, employing interactive techniques that utilise health workers' experiences and self-reflection.

Part-time Lecture:  Human Rights and Advocay:  Mira Dutschke

Mira graduated with a law degree (LL.B) from the University of Cape Town. While completing the Masters Programme in Human Rights Law (LL.M) she worked for the Law Race and Gender Unit developing training materials to assist magistrates in dealing with children affected by HIV & AIDS. Later she worked as a researcher in the Child Rights Programme at the Children’s Institute (University of cape Town) where she also engaged in a variety of curriculum development, teaching and training activities in the area of human rights and rights based advocacy.  She developed a Child Rights Curriculum that was presented in varying formats to social workers, health care workers, members of parliament, a range of civil society organizations as well as law and medical students. She also developed a human rights module for the M.Phil (MCH) programme which she currently facilitates through an interactive online forum. Her human rights experience includes a research project on budgeting for social and economic rights in the Human Rights Centre at the Law School of Queen’s University in Belfast. She is passionate about environmental issues that impact children’s well-being, and co-produced a documentary titled “High cost of fracking for cheap gas” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZaN1nDPVsCg).

Solution Focused Medicine:  Christiaan van Woerden

Christiaan graduated as a paediatrician from the Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands in 2011. He practiced as a consultant paediatrician in various teaching hospitals since then and trained as a counselor in Solution-Focused Therapy in 2014 (www.solutionfocusedmedicine.wordpress.com). He completed his PhD in 2008 based on the research project “Primary hyperoxaluria type 1: clinical, genetic and biochemical studies”.  Since 2014 he has been facilitating the epidemiology course for the M.Phil (MCH) programme in an online forum and leads the hyperoxaluria stone research project (www.oxalafrica.wordpress.com) at the Division of Urology, Groote Schuur Hospital, University of Cape Town. Christiaan’s passion is in power-sharing in the clinical encounter. He is adept at eliciting the patient’s story, listening to family strengths, and motivating  clinicians to assist the child in his or her context in mediating health, well-being and happiness. He is also a musician and designed  a community art project that brought music into medical care https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jBXOtodZC_4.


There are partnerships mainly in education and research with individuals working in other organizations.



Area of collaboration

Prof Lesley Bourne

Senior Research Scientist, MRC

Public Health Nutrition

Prof Sue Fawcus

Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology

PG Diploma MCH and 
M Phil MCH

Prof Herman de Groot

Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology

PG Diploma MCH and 
M Phil MCH

Ms Diana Novotny

Speech Therapy, RCCH

PG Diploma MCH and 
M Phil MCH

Prof G Swingler


PG Diploma Community and General Paediatrics*


Our mission is to contribute to promoting equity in child health by:

  • Focusing on South African children
  • Giving priority to vulnerable children by virtue of their health, economic or social status
  • Promoting equitable access to quality health care
  • Work within the context of children’s rights;
  • Work within the context of the primary health care philosophy


The target of the Unit’s endeavours is those areas, which have a strong child public health and interdisciplinary focus, viz.

  • General and Community Paediatrics
  • Public Health Nutrition
  • Education and Training
  • Child Health Policy

Teaching and Training

Education and training is one of the focus areas of the Child Health Unit and includes academic postgraduate and undergraduate training and continuing medical education to health service providers.


The Unit is involved in providing classroom seminars and clinical bedside teaching to medical students in their fifth and sixth years of study. There is a focus on child health and nutrition.


Master of Philosophy in Maternal and Child Health (M Phil MCH)

The MPhil MCH is a master’s by course work with a mini-dissertation. It aims to improve the health status of mothers and children in rural and peri-urban districts of Southern Africa, by developing the capacity of health personnel to plan, manage, implement and evaluate maternal and child health services. The Programme is designed for those wanting to pursue a career in MCH management at the district and regional levels.

The courses include Health and Development, Epidemiology, Organisation and Management, Introduction to Maternal and Child Health (MCH), Psychosocial Context of MCH, MCH Priorities, Research Methods and Biostatistics. The programme uses a combination of distance and face-to-face learning methods. It includes a mini-dissertation and both the course work and dissertation are equally weighted.

The programme is a collaborative effort of the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, the Primary Health Care Directorate, the Department of Social Science and Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

Postgraduate Diploma in Maternal and Child Health (PG Diploma MCH)

This is a two-year postgraduate diploma for those wanting to work in the field of maternal and child health. It shares certain of the course modules contained in the M Phil MCH such as Health and Development, Epidemiology, Organisation and Management, Introduction to Maternal and Child Health, Psychosocial Context of MCH, MCH Priorities, Maternal Mental Health and Information, Communication and Education.

We suggest that you consult the Health Sciences Faculty Handbook for more information about the M Phil MCH and the PG Diploma MCH: www.health.uct.ac.za

Registrar Training

Training is provided in the form of public health related lectures and seminars to paediatric registrars.


Members of the unit also provide training to doctors undertaking the Diploma in Child Health (DCH).

Continuing medical education

The CHU provides continuing medical education and training to primary health care nurses and doctors. These are in the form of regional workshops on nutrition and common childhood illnesses. The CHU has developed several interactive learning materials for primary health care workers and is actively involved in E-Learning within the School.


The main research areas include:

  • Public health nutrition
  • HIV-related research
  • Research conducted by students on the Master of Philosophy in Maternal and Child Health.

Public health nutrition

Reasons for focusing on nutrition research:

The main reasons for placing a special focus on nutrition relates to the:

  • Right of children to adequate nutrition in terms of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child;
  • High prevalence of malnutrition in South Africa;
  • Support for nutrition policy implementation for mothers and children.

The main areas of public health nutrition where research is undertaken include nutrition policy and advocacy, nutrition policy implementation, monitoring and evaluation of nutrition programmes and services, micronutrient deficiencies. The CHU is also involved in the development and evaluation of nutrition resource materials.

Past activities/projects

Evaluation of nutrition policies and programmes

National evaluation of the Primary School Nutrition Programme (PSNP)

  • Evaluation of the Protein Energy Malnutrition Scheme in the Northern Cape
  • Breastfeeding Policy Research
  • Evaluation of the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative in the Northern Cape
  • Evaluation of the Vitamin A Supplementation Programme in the Western Cape
  • Evaluation of the Vitamin A Supplementation Programme in the West coast Winelands Region
  • An audit of the management of severe malnutrition at Red Cross Children’s Hospital
  • The nutrition transition and the right of adolescents to adequate nutrition

Support for the implementation of nutrition policy

Partnership with the Hhlatlolanang Health and Nutrition Education Centre

  • Support for the development of a community-based nutrition programme at Bloekombos in the Western Cape
  • Development of fact sheets on malnutrition, the Integrated Nutrition Programme, breastfeeding, complementary feeding, the Primary School Nutrition Programme and nutrition education
  • An assessment of the effectiveness of growth monitoring and promotion practices in the Lusaka district of Zambia
  • Food-Based Dietary Guidelines (FBDGs) for children under seven years:
    • Implementation of FBDGs at primary health care
    • Implications of FBDGs for children infected or affected by HIV

Micronutrient research

  • Involvement in the South African Vitamin A Consultative Group (SAVACG) survey
  • An Economic Analysis of Vitamin A Interventions in South Africa

Nutrition and Child Development

  • The effects of iron deficiency anaemia on maternal emotions/ behaviour and mother-child interaction

Development of nutrition resource materials

  • Contribution to the development of case management guidelines and training materials on Growth Monitoring, Management of Malnutrition and Vitamin A Supplementation in the Western Cape
  • Development of interactive learning materials on Promoting Healthy Growth, Malnutrition, Diarrhoea and Acute Respiratory Infection
  • Development of a brochure on vitamin A deficiency for primary health care workers

HIV-related research

Previous research:

  • Zinc supplementation in HIV-infected children
  • Review of HIV and micronutrients
  • Nutritional, immune, micronutrient and health status of HIV-infected children in care centres in Mangaung
  • Consent for HIV-testing during labour

Research done by M Phil MCH students

Students previously on the M Phil MCH Programme have completed the following research projects:

  • Breastfeeding Practices in Lesotho
  • An analysis of the causes of, and substandard care associated with maternal deaths in the Lowland Districts of Lesotho
  • An Investigation of Antenatal Screening and Management of Syphilis in Two Districts in the North West province
  • How do Swazi mothers respond when their children develop diarrhoea and what factors may underlie their response?
  • The Experience of Mothers Practising Kangaroo Mother Care in the East London Hospital Complex
  • Child abuse in Malawi
  • Functional outcomes of a feeding intervention in children with cerebral palsy
  • Reasons why mothers return for their cervical screening results at the Khayelitsha cervical screening project
  • Implementation of Perinatal Problem Identification Programme in Emfuleni sub-district of Gauteng
  • An evaluation of the Western Cape Province screening programme for developmental disabilities in pre-school children
  • A situational analysis of children living with terminally ill parents
  •  The epidemiology and diagnosis of childhood tuberculosis at a district hospital in Kwazulu-Natal

For more information about Nutrition contact