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Public Health


The Department of Public Health, formerly known as the “National School of Public Health” is one of the first few Schools to offer Public Health qualifications in the country and in Africa as a whole. The School was established in the year 1998 as collaboration between the then Medical University of Southern Africa (MEDUNSA), the University of George Washington in the USA and Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel.

The Department of Public Health offers all its programmes and modules online to accommodate working health professionals in the SADC region. The teaching platform is provided by Embanet Firstclass, a Canadian-based company that hosts, maintains and supports the school’s computer network. Online teaching forms a significant aspect of the programme (80%) and is based on the principle of continuous learning.

Online teaching places heavy emphasis on student interactions with the course facilitators and fellow classmates. Compulsory face to face teaching takes place during Summer and Winter schools which are two weeks on-campus blocks at the beginning of each semester for the Master of Public Health program and one week on campus block for the Post Graduate Diploma in Public Health.

During the Summer and Winter school face to face blocks, students are introduced to:

  • The online teaching platform through laboratory sessions.
  • The discipline and content of Public Health.
  • Introduction of modules for the forthcoming semester.
  • Laboratory sessions for biostatistics and epidemiology
  • Introduction to research methods which includes a process of identifying and refining the students’ research projects
  • Lab sessions for qualitative and quantitative data analysis

It is the only department in SMU which offers post-graduate programme offering qualifications from higher certificate to doctoral degrees in Public Health. There are plans to grow the Department by introducing other sub-departments such as Reproductive Health, Health Economics and Public Health Practice in the near future.

Public Health Disciplines within the Department of Public Health

Globally, Public Health operates under disciplines, each of which focusses on a specific area of Public Health teaching and research. At SMU, these disciplines are organized as follows:

Sub Departments Head Members of staff
Social and Behavioural Health Sciences (SBHS) Prof Kebogile Mokwena Dr. Lucy Fernandes

Ms Busi Ntuli

Dr. Perpetua Modjadji

Health Systems Management and Policy (HSMP) Dr. Henry Van der Heever


Ms Thembi Khoza

Mr. Athol Kleinhans

Environmental and Occupational Health (EOH) Prof Sphiwe Madiba Dr Paul Chelule

Mr Modikwe Rammopo

Epidemiology and Biostatistics Prof Mathilda Mokgatle

Mr. Mabina Mogale

Ms Mampedi Huma