Explore Policy Options for Coordinated Public Health Leadership

Despite being a middle-income country, some of South Africa’s health outcomes are worse than those in many lower resource countries due to four large and concurrent public health burdens: HIV/AIDS and TB, poverty- related illnesses, non-communicable diseases, and violence and injury. The many national government structures with public health functions operate with little or no coordination or linkages, constraining efforts to prevent, prioritize, and respond to disease threats and allocate resources appropriately.

Recognizing these challenges, the National Department of Health is exploring options for creation of a unified body to provide coordinated national leadership and expertise to the government to achieve sustainable improvements in the population’s health.

IANPHI, US CDC, and CDC-South Africa have partnered to support this initiative through targeted technical and financial assistance. In August 2013, a delegation of South African government officials conducted a study tour of the U.S. CDC to participate in seminars and meetings with high-level CDC experts and to learn about the agency’s history, governance, functions, and linkages to the country’s other public health organizations. For a different perspective, an official from the Public Health Agency of Canada shared the historical, political and technical perspectives of that agency.

South African colleagues also heard from IANPHI experts on the various models for NPHI development and organization based on the experiences of the organization’s 87+ members and the IANPHI Framework for the Creation and Development of NPHIs.