Developing a health system capable of promoting health, preventing injury and disease and resultant disability and premature death, providing appropriate care for patients and reducing health inequalities constitutes a social challenge of the highest order. In the School of Public Health we seek to contribute to these goals through teaching and training, social responsiveness, and research.


The School of Public Health is a strong multidisciplinary department in the Faculty of Health Sciences with extensive undergraduate and postgraduate teaching and training of medical students as well as students pursuing academic study in the public health sciences. In 2019 the School had 429 postgraduate students registered for its 13 different post-graduate qualifications in public health, family medicine, palliative medicine, health economics, health management, occupational and environmental health. Some of these courses are offered as flexible on-off campus programmes. In its teaching of medical undergraduates in almost every year of the curriculum the emphasis is on primary health care principles, including community oriented practice, holistic patient management and the use of public health sciences to promote health and prevent disease.


The School also hosts three University-Recognised Research groupings: Centre for Infectious Diseases Epidemiology and Research (CIDER); Centre for Environmental and Occupational Health Research (CEOHR); and the Health Economics Unit (HEU). A substantial body of research is also conducted in the eight disciplinary divisions of the School. The research questions derive from local and regional public health priorities – HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, cervical cancer, occupational and environmental lung disease, health care access and financing, health and human rights, social and behavioural aspects of health and many more. This enables the School 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.

Social Responsiveness

The School has a clinical service responsibility through joint staff appointments with Western Cape Government Department of Health (Directorate of Health Impact Assessment; Groote Schuur Hospital Occupational Medicine Clinic; and the Chief Directorate Metro District Health Services) respectively. Various other consultancy arrangements with the national Departments of Health, Labour, Environmental Affairs and Finance among others, and with international and local NGOs, trade unions and private companies. Staff in the School  provide services in clinical care, health personnel training, health measurement, financing and evaluation as well as policy formulation and engagement. This broad service platform enables the School to build its teaching and research on a firm understanding of social need and practice.