Head of Division: Professor Edina Sinanovic BSc (Econ) Zagreb DipFinMgt Maastricht MCom (HealthEcon) Cape Town PhD (Health Econ) London
Welcome to the Health Economics Division
The Health Economics Division works to improve the performance of health systems in sub-Saharan Africa through policy relevant teaching and research in health economics and health systems.
The key objective of the Division is to teach at the post-graduate level to develop capacity in health economics and related health systems research in Africa. We convene the Master’s in Public Health (Health Economics track), and supervise PhD candidates. We also offer the online postgraduate Diploma in Health Economics which focuses on some of the specific health economic skills and concepts needed in the pursuit of universal health coverage.
Our research maintains a balance between conceptual and applied research as well as between topics of local and international relevance, and focuses on four thematic areas of research, namely universal coverage and financing, governance and decision-making, economic evaluation and social determinants of health. There is a strong emphasis on equity in our research, particularly to identify ways of promoting health system equity. Another area to which we contribute on an on-going basis is the evaluation of cost-effectiveness of alternative preventative, diagnostic and treatment interventions for diseases of major public health concern, in particular TB and HIV.
The Health Economics Division collaborates with a number of South African and international institutions in its research and training activities, and participates in a number of networks. The Division also collaborates with the national and various provincial and local Departments of Health in South Africa on research projects.
Division of Health Economics
School of Public Health
Faculty of Health Sciences
University of Cape Town
Administrative Officer: Mrs Latiefa Adams
Tel: +27 21 406 6558
Fax:+27 21 448 8152
Email: Latiefa Adams
The Health Economics Division does not offer Undergraduate Teaching.
The Masters in Public Health (MPH) specialising in Health Economics
The MPH in Health Economics track examines health systems from both the macroâ and microâeconomics perspectives. The curriculum has a low and middle income country focus, and while theoretical components are included, the programme concentrates on the development of practical research skills that are useful to graduates working in African health systems.
The course is designed for graduates in social or health sciences who have worked/or will work in the health sector in lowâ and middleâincome countries. Masters’ participants are encouraged to undertake their dissertation research in their countries of origin. In this way, the Masters is making a contribution to empirical research of key health economics issues in a range of African countries.
Over 140 students have successfully completed the programme and graduated. Our past graduates have taken up job placements in the academia, public and private establishments and international agencies. The Masters programme has also played a role in raising the profile of the University of Cape Town within the African region. Through financial support from the Sida, the HEU has provided bursaries to 60 students to undertake their Masters studies.
Courses taught by the Division include:
- Quantitative Methods for Health Economists
- Microeconomics for the Health Sector
- Theory and Application of Economic Evaluation in Health Care
- The Economics of Health Systems
Download the programme brochure for more details.
Postgraduate Diploma in Health Economics
The Postgraduate Diploma in Health Economics aims to enable the development of some of the most important health economics capacities needed to support the movement towards Universal Health Coverage, with a specific focus on South Africa and similar contexts. Key content areas include economic evaluation, health technology assessment and strategic purchasing, amongst others.
The diploma is designed as a part-time mixed mode programme (including online learning and contact blocks in Cape Town) aimed primarily for full time employees of governments (Ministries of Health and Finance), health insurance schemes, and international organisations. It takes a minimum of 2 years to complete.
The minimum entry requirement is an undergraduate degree in economics, health sciences, social sciences, or equivalent, from an approved university. Because spaces are limited, entry to the diploma is competitive.
Detailed information is available in the Programme Brochure
The Division offers PhD supervision and is currently hosting 17 PhD students. Since the start of the PhD programme in 1998, 24 PhD degrees were awarded.
The Health Economics Division conducts high quality research in health economics and health systems through its Health Economics Unit (HEU).
Please refer to the HEU web page about Research Activities.
Research Institutions and Universities
- Centre for Health Economics, University of York
- Centre for Health Policy, University of the Witwatersrand
- HEARD - Health Economics and AIDS Research Division
- London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, University of London
- School of Economics, University of Cape Town
- School of Public Health and Family Medicine, University of Cape Town
Networks, Consortiums and Associations
- Consortium for Health Policy & Systems Analysis in Africa
- Resilient and Responsive Health Systems (RESYST) Consortium
- The African Health Economics and Policy Association (AfHEA)
- Health Systems Trust
- International Health Economics Association
- SADC Health Equity Network (Equinet)
Edina Sinanovic, Professor and Head of Division
Phone: 021 406 6575
I am Professor and Head of the Health Economics Division in the School of Public Health at the University of Cape Town. I have training in economics and health economics. I did my PhD at the LSHTM, and have worked in the field of health economics in South Africa since 1997. My research falls within three areas: economic evaluation of health care interventions, especially in relation to tuberculosis, HIV, cancer and STIs; economic considerations in vaccination, with an emphasis on the economic modelling of new vaccines; and the cost of scaling up health care interventions.
I have extensive teaching and student supervision experience. I teach Theory and Application of Economic Evaluation in Health Care on the MPH, and Economic Evaluation for Health Care Decision Making on the Postgraduate Diploma in Health Economics. My doctoral students are studying topics including economic evaluation of interventions for prevention of pediatric drug resistant TB, extended cost effectiveness analysis of publicly funded interventions for early detection and treatment of breast cancer, and cost-effectiveness of models of prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV intervention.
I am a member of the Executive Committee of the Pharmaceutical & Technology Clinical Management Association of South Africa (PTCMA), with a focus on research and education.
I have served on the WHO Immunization and Vaccines related Implementation Research (IVIR) Advisory Committee. In 2020, I was appointed a member of the Strategic Scientific Advisory Board of the Botnar Research Centre for Child Health (BRCCH) at the University of Basel, Switzerland, which is dedicated to advancing global child and adolescent health.
Susan Cleary, Professor and Head of School
Susan Cleary is Head of Department and Professor of Health Economics in the School of Public at the University of Cape Town. She joined the School in 2001, becoming the director of the Health Economics Unit (2007-2012), Associate Professor in 2011, Head of School and Director in 2022, and Professor from 2023. She holds a Masters’ in Economics (2001) and a PhD in Public Health specializing in Health Economics (2007), assessing equity and efficiency in HIV-treatment in South Africa. Her work focuses on research, capacity development and policy engagement within the areas of economic evaluation, health care priority setting and universal health coverage. She is interested in considerations of both distributive and procedural justice in health and health care. For the former, areas of interest include cost-effectiveness, affordability and financial risk protection to households from alternative interventions. For the latter, areas of interest include the governance of health technology assessment and related priority setting processes. She plays a key role in teaching health economics at the postgraduate diploma, masters’ and doctoral levels.
Olufunke Alaba, Senior Lecturer
Phone: 021 406 6576
Olufunke Alaba is a Senior Lecturer in the Health Economics Unit and convenor of the Health Economics track in the Master of Public Health Programme. She is involved in teaching and research of health economics and health policy issues as well as the application of various Economic principles and tools to understanding and improving health outcomes, observed differentials in health and health outcomes, promoting economic growth and development. Olufunke joined the Transformation Committee as Chair in February 2020.
Lucy Cunnama, Senior Lecturer
Phone: 021 406 6754
Lucy Cunnama started working in the Health Economics Unit in May 2012. Her undergraduate degree was in Physiotherapy, after which she worked in the Eastern Cape at a rural hospital. Working in this environment inspired her to study public health and she finished her Master’s (MPH) degree in 2011, specializing in Health Economics. She currently supervises five MPH students, is on the Departmental Research Committee for the School of Public Health and Family medicine, co-convenes and teaches on the MPH health economics track and leads a module for the online Postgraduate Diploma in Health Economics. She is also a Health Economist on the Department of Health’s National TB Think Tank. Her research interests include economic evaluation; access to health care in the South African setting; tuberculosis diagnostics and treatment; paediatric pneumonia; and models of care relating to the prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV.
Amarech Obse, Research Officer
Phone: 021 406 6752
Amarech Obse has joined the Health Economic Unit in 2015 as a post-doctoral research fellow. Her main area of research is health care financing and economics of stated preferences. Her current research focuses on analysis of health financing mechanisms and reforms in Africa and their effect on the Universal Health Coverage, the role of legal framework and regulations for private healthcare services under publicly funded systems in low- and middle-income countries, and preference elicitation for healthcare services.
She holds a Ph.D from Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. Her Ph.D research provided an
analysis of demand for health insurance in Ethiopia, focusing on preferences of civil servants for social health insurance plans. She has a Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees in Economics from Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia. She previously worked at Addis Ababa University School of Public Health as a research assistant and lecturer.
Honorary Senior Lecturer
Latiefa Adams Postgraduate Administrative Officer 021 406 6558
Please refer to the HEU web page about Publications.