Working to Advance Health Equity in Africa


Developing African academics to approach health challenges in Africa

The aim of the doctoral programme is to produce a high calibre of leaders in the area of health research. The programme provides robust training to emerging scholars on understanding how evidence-based research interfaces with policy issues, in solving complex health problems. Further practical training in devising, evaluating or implementing policy solutions is also offered. Graduates are supported as early career scientists through post-doctoral scholarships and related professional development initiatives.

Students work in an interdisciplinary environment where real issues, rather than the nuances of debates within specific academic disciplines, take priority in the formation and execution of research questions and strategies. They focus their research on practical challenges, facing a range of different governments and publicly oriented agencies. In addition to developing their academic expertise, students learn how to communicate their findings and analysis effectively so as to have real impact on governments.

2018 PhD Scholarship opportunities – Applications now open – see below for details. 

PhD Applicants

Under the supervision of Professor Nana Poku HEARD is offering up to twelve PhD scholarships (full time) for 2018. Six scholarships will be available to students conducting research in one of the following research areas:

  • Health Systems Strengthening
  • Health Economics
  • Health Financing
  • Abortion
  • Contraception
  • Universal Health Care Financing
  • Gender-based violence

An additional six scholarships will be awarded to students undertaking research focusing on key populations in Africa. Starting this year, HEARD has begun a new applied research collaborative aimed at increasing understanding of the needs and challenges sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) for adolescent and young key populations across southern Africa.  The knowledge gained will inform inform laws, policies and strategies to improve their sexual and reproductive health outcomes.  The research seeks to answer two central questions:

  1. What are the predominant sexual and reproductive health needs amongst different adolescent and young key populations, how do these needs differ from those of the general population of young people and of adult key populations (above age 24), and to what extent are these needs being met by existing services?
  2. What are the key challenges in meeting the sexual and reproductive health needs of young key populations? And what opportunities exist to improve the sexual and reproductive health of young key populations and to advance the realisation of their sexual and reproductive health rights?
* Key populations include adolescent and young lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex individuals, as well as young adult male or female sex workers and individuals who use drugs. They also include individuals whose inter-sexual identities cross-traditional categories of sexual orientation or gender identity and expression.  
  • Only candidates resident in one of the following countries:  Angola, Madagascar, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe will be eligible for consideration.
  • Successful candidates are required to be based in Durban, South Africa, for the duration of the scholarship, with the exception of the time during which they may undertake field research elsewhere.

Applicants must:

  • Hold a Master’s Degree (first or upper second class pass or its equivalent).
  • Have demonstrable research experience.
  • Undertake to register for a PhD dissertation (full time) at the University of KwaZulu–Natal (UKZN).
  • Make a commitment to remain on the African continent for at least TWO years after graduation.

Applications should consist of:

  • A letter of motivation
  • A four to five page concept note
  • Certified copies of both your academic qualifications and your full academic records. In the case of qualifications obtained from non-English speaking countries an English translation must be included.
  • A certified copy of your ID/passport.
  • Academic letter of reference (ideally two).
  • Applications must be submitted to Cailin Hedderwick, PhD Programme Manager (Hedderwick@ukzn.ac.za)  by 14 July 2017
  • Funding will be renewed annually over the three year period dependent on satisfactory progress.
  • The first scholarship tranche will be released on proof of PhD registration and the opening of a South African bank account.

If you have not received a reply within 8 weeks of the closing date, kindly consider your application as unsuccessful.

The value of each scholarship is R600,000. It will be paid in equal tranches over three years. Tranche payments will be conditional on research progress.