I joined the School of Public Health at UCT (the Department of Community Health as it was then known) and worked there for twenty five years. I come from a Social Science background, having majored in Sociology and did my honours in African Politics. I had a research position and my first research was on urbanisation and women’s health. So my background in terms of health had been more in worker health, occupational health, with an interest in women’s health, gender issues. I went on to complete my PhD in Public Health. In 1996 we formed a university recognised Women’s Research Unit within the SOPH at UCT, with a rotational directorship, which I held for two terms. I taught at undergraduate level, and more recently at postgraduate MPH and PhD levels. So I held an academic appointment with a lot of my time also doing research.
Over the years my main areas of research have been on women’s health, social determinants of women’s health, gender issues and sexual and reproductive health, in keys areas among others like contraception, pregnancy, female cancers. More recently, say for the past ten years, my focus has been on the intersection between sexual and reproductive health and HIV on issues such as avoiding pregnancy when women and men don’t want a conception, a healthier conception, pregnancy and birth if they would like to have biological children which themselves throw up issues around desires around biological children for both men and women. Most recently, also on the sexual and reproductive health needs of youth living with HIV and teenage pregnancy.
I’ve done exploratory research, both qualitative and quantitative, in which I am trained as well as intervention research. What I like most, coming in from my original background, is very engaged research. I really like community-based research, health systems research. I have a lot of sympathy for healthcare providers at the coalface. I’ve also been involved internationally in the area of sexual and reproductive health particularly in its intersection with HIV. I am a representative on a Task Team based at Harvard University looking at maternal health and HIV. I’ve worked with a number of international NGOs and sat on committees of the National Department of Health since 2002 and was an expert scientist for their initial Contraceptive Guidelines later revision in 2012.
Provincially I was involved in the TOP rollout originally and in provincial health Task teams involved in integration of sexual and reproductive health and HIV.