Health systems are inequitable around the world: they provide higher quality health services to the wealthy than to the impoverished. Thus, the poor and marginalised continue to suffer the impact of multiple diseases.
This gives African researchers a pressing need to address diseases of poverty, an area in which UCT has developed world-leading expertise in research and policy.
The cross-faculty Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine (IDM), brings together exceptional researchers and groups across the university to tackle some of the greatest challenges to health in Africa. TB kills more people than any other infectious disease: IDM researchers from the South African Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative (SATVI) and Wellcome Centre for Infectious Diseases Research in Africa (CIDRI-Africa) were leading contributors to a study that produced the first sign of a potentially effective vaccine against TB in almost 100 years.
Two non-communicable epidemics on the continent – heart disease and obesity – are also research focuses at UCT. The Heart of Africa group, under the aegis of the Hatter Institute for Cardiovascular Research in Africa, investigates the prevalence, presentation and management of cardiac disease. Meanwhile UCT’s Division of Human Nutrition is part of a global consortium of research and advocacy organisations in nine countries encouraging youngsters to help drive policy change to tackle the obesity epidemic among adolescents.
UCT houses several centres leading the way in Africa on public health. For example, the Health Economics Unit (HEU) contributes to health financing and policy in South Africa and Africa, and the Centre for Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Research’s (CIDER) multi-disciplinary research team conducts research and policy work on TB, HIV and COVID-19 in southern Africa.
UCT’s Neuroscience Institute is the first of its kind on the continent. It provides an interdisciplinary research and clinical space to study and treat mental and neurological disorders, as well as brain development and injury, within the context of the specific challenges on the continent.