Annual Jakes Gerwel Award

The SOPH has alumni across the African continent and beyond, who have brought their training at UWC to bear on their work in public health systems and civil society.

Since 2012 the SOPH has annually honoured one of its alumni, who has made an outstanding contribution in the field of public health, with the Jakes Gerwel Award.

The Annual Jakes Gerwel Award in Public Health, made possible through a grant by The Mauerberger Foundation Fund, honours the former Rector and Vice Chancellor of UWC Professor Jakes Gerwel as a visionary leader who went on to join President Nelson Mandela as the Director General in his cabinet office.

As UWC Vice-Chancellor Professor Gerwel advocated passionately for and supported development of South Africa‘s first School of Public Health. He clearly saw the need for UWC to focus on public health practice that led to measurable improvements in peoples‘ health and policy that was based on solid science. Over the last few years the UWC School of Public Health has achieved these aspirations.

Jakes Gerwel Award in Public Health 2019 - Mr Siraaj Adams


Mr Siraaj Adams received the 2019 Jakes Gerwel Award! Siraaj delivered a lecture entitled “Transforming Public Health using Digital Health, the journey so far...”.

Present at the event were members of the Gerwel family, University of the Western Cape, Mauerberger Foundation Fund, and Siraaj's family and colleagues.

An online recording will be made available shortly.


Siraaj Adams grew up and is currently based in Cape Town, South Africa. He is the CEO of Digital Health (Pty) Ltd which is an accelerator to support digital health start-ups mature to access commercial contracts and obtain long term sustainability. He is also the strategic partner to Iyeza Health, which started out as only the last mile logistics services in the low-income areas.  Last mile logistics involves the fast and efficient movement of goods from a central location to the final delivery destination. In this case it involves the movement of individual packaged medicines parcels from the Western Cape Chronic Dispensing Unit to public sector clinics, or patients’ homes. Currently, Iyeza Health is a sub-contractor of the Western Cape Government Chronic Dispensing Unit and is responsible for the delivery of chronic medication to 30 public sector clinics in low income areas. In addition, Iyeza Health has achieved the required cold chain compliance, and built the required digital infrastructure in order to scale the business nationally.

Siraaj Adams obtained his pharmacy degree in 2000 and MPH in 2016, both from UWC. His MPH thesis investigated: Effectiveness of a monetary incentive on General Practitioners' behaviour of promoting HIV testing for pregnant women in the private sector. He also has an MBA from UCT. Siraaj spent 10 years in HIV disease management and then using his pharmacy, public health, business and entrepreneurial skills moved into development of digital platforms, developing several HIV and TB apps for the National Department of Health. Siraaj credits his MPH as being a turning point in his career to focus his skills on health innovations at a population level, and at the same time partner with local entrepreneurs to apply digital solutions to community level initiatives such as medicine delivery.

Siraaj serves on the boards of several prominent health care organisations including: HIV Clinicians Society, South African Business Coalition on Health and Aids (SABCOHA) and TB/HIV Care, and represents the private sector at various Provincial Aids Councils. He was recently appointed by Minister Nomafrench Mbombo, Chairperson of the Provincial Council on AIDS (PCA), to serve as a representative of the Business Sector.

He has received numerous national accolades over the past few years, the latest in April 2019 being the Vaccine Delivery Challenge, where he was the health sector winner in a global competition for startups who have devised innovative solutions using mobile platforms.

The SOPH and UWC are proud to have such a creative and energetic innovator and leader among their alumni; and it is thus with great pleasure that we bestow the 2019 Jakes Gerwel Award to Mr Siraaj Adams.

Jakes Gerwel Award in Public Health 2018 - Amir Aman Hagos

The 2018 recipient of the Jakes Gerwel Award was  Dr Amir Aman Hagos, now the Minister  of  Health of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia who graduated with an MPH in 2013. Dr Amir registered for his MPH as a 25-year-old hospital director in one of  the  worst  performing  and poorly-resourced hospitals in a remote part of Ethiopia. He set about transforming it into a model hospital for the rest of the country through introducing pioneer governance and accountability systems,  mobilising community, and promoting patient- centred care and primary health care. 

Jakes Gerwel 2018 Amir Amar hagos








Continue Reading

Jakes Gerwel Award in Public Health 2017 - Rolene Wagner

The 2017 Award was presented to 2002 graduate Dr Rolene Wagner, a medical doctor and, from December 2012, the CEO of Frere Hospital in East London, South Africa. In this post, Dr Wagner’s clear focus was on delivering an efficient, cost-effective and patient- centred health care service. As a result she and her team were able to transform Frere from the hospital known as ‘a place where babies go to die’ into one which is now nationally recognised for its achievements.  She received the 2017 Award for making this public hospital into a patient-centred site of excellence.

Jakes gerwel 2017 Rolene Wagner








Continue Reading

Jakes Gerwel Award in Public Health 2016 - Anne Mutunda

An environmental health practitioner by training, Anne Mutunda works as a water and sanitation health surveillance officer with Akros in Zambia. She graduated with a Master of Public Health (MPH) in 2013, focussing her research on exploring the factors influencing the understandings, experiences and practices of menstrual hygiene among adolescent girls in Mongu District in the Western Province of Zambia.

Jakes Gerwel 2016 Anne Mutunda








Continue Reading

Jakes Gerwel Award in Public Health 2015 - Mr Evans Sagawa

Evans Sagwa is the Country Director for the USAID-funded SIAPS and SCMS projects in Nambia, implemented by Management Sciences for Health (MSH). He liases closely with USAID to support the MInistry of Health and Social Services and other key partners in Namibia to strengthen the country's public sector pharmaceutical services for the prevention, care and treatment of HIV and AIDS.

Continue Reading

Jakes Gerwel Award in Public Health 2014 - Dr Saadiq Kariem

The second Jakes Gerwel Award in Public Health by the UWC School of Public Health was made to Dr Saadiq Kariem. The award, to a graduate in Public Health of the School, is sponsored by the Mauerberger Foundation Fund, a private philanthropy with a long history of support to UWC.

From left - Dr Saadiq Kariem, Mrs Dianna Yach (Chairperson and Director - Mauerberger Foundation Fund). Prof Helen Schneider (Director of School of Public Health, UWC), Mr Heinrich Gerwel, Prof David Sanders (nominated Dr Kariem for award), Prof Brian O'Connell (UWC Vice Chancellor) 

Continue Reading

Jakes Gerwel Award in Public Health 2013 - Dr Kirstie Rendall-Mkosi

Dr Kirstie Rendall-Mkosi receives the first Jakes Gerwel Award  in recognition of her demonstrated leadership in areas of teaching, research and community engagement in health promotion, health systems research and primary health care.

She was also acknowledged for carrying out research projects related to the prevention of foetal alcohol syndrome, the development of innovative training on heat stress for miners and health promotion in schools. 


Continue Reading

School of Public Health, University of the Western Cape
Robert Sobukwe Road, Bellville 7535, Republic of South Africa
Tel: +27-21 - 959 2809 | Fax: +27- 21 - 959 2872 | Email: