Examine community-based health from a South African perspective, exploring the roles of the South African state, the media, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in mobilizing community assets.
Learn about health communication strategies, prenatal care, access to healthcare, health education, and more.
You will consider how various health paradigms—ranging from biomedical to holistic—and health policies have achieved mixed results in addressing the healthcare needs of South African people.
Examine Durban’s wide range of health services, from traditional healers to state-of-the-art hospitals.
Durban, the program base, faces public health challenges of immense proportions, and it lies near the epicenter of southern Africa’s HIV pandemic. Cultural views on health and varying levels of wealth and education influence access to and acceptance of public health services. You will be encouraged to think broadly about the perceived dichotomy between western and traditional medicine and appreciate the importance of acceptability and accessibility.
Examine how the state, the media, and NGOs shape health outcomes and how varying levels of wealth and education influence access to and acceptance of public health services.
You will be challenged to understand health complexities in a balanced way and to critically examine medical research papers and media reports on health.
Experience Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Pretoria.
In Johannesburg, tour the Constitutional Court Precinct, visit the Voortrekker Monument, and travel for three days along the banks of the Crocodile River in Kruger National Park. In Cape Town, tour the Boulders Beach penguin colony, hike up Table Mountain, and visit an ostrich farm. In Pretoria, visit Freedom Park.
Hear from academics, healthcare workers, and researchers in the Community Health and Social Policy Lecture Series
This lecture series covers a range of diseases, prevention programs, and health interventions. Regular discussion and reflection sessions will help you assimilate different viewpoints and articulate complex understandings. The course is divided into modules on approaches to and practices of community health. Explore the ways health issues are studied, communicated, and addressed, particularly the role of research and state and private enterprise and the agency of community members.
Receive 45 hours of language instruction in isiZulu, focusing on beginning speaking and comprehension skills, and practice speaking isiZulu with your host families.
See wildlife in Kruger National Park and stand on Cape Point, Africa’s most southwesterly tip.
Carry out an Independent Study Project or, beginning in fall 2017, choose an internship.
Key Topics of Study
Key Topics of Study
- Healthcare delivery in rural South Africa, including the practice of prevention and promotion of healthcare
- The role of the media in promoting, communicating, or influencing health issues in South Africa
- The ways in which specific health issues in South Africa are being targeted or addressed
- Rural health and social justice
- The pharmaceutical industry
- Traditional healing
Through the interdisciplinary coursework in this program, students examine contemporary public health issues in South Africa through a multidisciplinary lens while analyzing the historical, political, economic, cultural, and geographic forces that shape the history of public health interventions in South Africa. Through the Social and Community Health Research Methods seminar, students learn to be critical consumers of medical research papers and media reports on health, to gather primary data on health issues through questioning and observation, and to conduct ethical, culturally appropriate research in preparation for the Independent Study Project (ISP). Through language study and homestays, students gain a unique window into the culture and insights into community healthcare.
The following syllabi are representative of this program. Because courses develop and change over time to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, actual course content will vary from term to term. The syllabi can be useful for students, faculty, and study abroad offices in assessing credit transfer. Read more about credit transfer.
- Approaches to Community Health in South Africa – syllabus
- (IPBH3000 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
- An interdisciplinary course conducted in English. Students gain exposure to essential social, historical, and political features of South Africa to provide a common frame of reference to engage with the program theme. Through lectures from academics at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, readings, and selected site visits, students critically examine topics related to health promotion and provision, including the pharmaceutical industry, traditional healing, rural health and social justice, and the role of the media in promoting, communicating, or influencing health issues in South Africa.
- The Practice and Provision of Community Health in South Africa – syllabus
- (IPBH3005 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
- Through a combination of lectures, practicum experience, appropriate readings, and site visits in urban and rural locales, students examine the practice of prevention and promotion of healthcare, come to understand healthcare delivery in rural South Africa, and examine and assess specific health issues in South Africa and how they are being targeted or addressed.
- isiZulu – syllabus
- (ZULU1003 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
- The emphasis is on beginning speaking and comprehension skills through classroom and field instruction. Practice with host family members during the homestays augments formal instruction.
- Social and Community Health Research Methods – syllabus
- (ANTH3500 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
- A course in the concepts of learning across cultures and from field experience, providing students with core tools in public health research. Introduction to the Independent Study Project. Material includes cross-cultural adaptation and skills building; project selection and refinement; appropriate methodologies; field study ethics and the World Learning/SIT Human Subjects Review Policy; developing contacts and finding resources; developing skills in observation and interviewing; gathering, organizing, and communicating data; and maintaining a field journal.
- Independent Study Project – syllabus
- (ISPR3000 / 4 credits / 120 hours)
- Conducted in Durban or in another approved location appropriate to the project. Sample topic areas: sociological consequences of HIV/AIDS; a historical review of food security and nutrition programs in a community-based NGO; public health education campaigns; African refugees' and asylum seekers' access to health services; analysis of the proposed National Health Insurance scheme; sustainable development and healthcare; local attitudes about access to healthcare facilities; indigenous healing practices.
Program in a minute-ish
Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.
Durban Hospitals or Clinics
Visit hospitals or clinics in Durban in small groups to observe the varying quality of healthcare facilities and the often heroic work of dedicated health workers who provide the best service they can, often in difficult circumstances.
Special Needs Schools
The South African apartheid government set up a number of special needs schools for whites only. Most of these have been transformed into multiracial schools, but the number of schools remains insufficient. The current government wants to move toward inclusion, closing specialized schools and having students attend regular schools. You will consider the resources, challenges, and benefits associated with special needs schools and discuss the cost-benefit of special education. For comparison, you will also visit a traditional school.
Visit NGOs that deliver health services in areas that the government does not cover. You will consider the challenges governments can face in delivering services on a small scale in holistic ways. In the past, NGOs like The Valley Trust provided primary healthcare to black communities that the apartheid government neglected and oppressed. Today, these NGOs provide services in tandem with the government and other funders in operationally challenging areas. Other NGOs, including OneVoice, work in government schools to complement life-skills programs in the curriculum and work for behavioral changes necessitated by the HIV epidemic.
Faculty and Staff
Faculty and Staff
Zed McGladdery, BProc, Academic Director
Zed McGladdery received his BProc in law from the University of Natal, a postgraduate diploma in education from the University of South Africa, and an honors degree in African studies at the University of Cape Town. He worked with the SIT Cape Town program from 1995 to 2006 and has served as the academic director of this program since fall 2006.
Born in Zimbabwe, Zed has lived in South Africa for more than 20 years and has experienced the change from colonialism to democracy. His teaching experience includes courses on “street law” for homeless orphans, high school English (as a first and second language), and accounting and business economics. Zed also served as deputy principal at a socioeconomically challenged school in Simon’s Town. His education abroad publications focus on host-student interactions in study abroad and teaching racialization. He has presented at the International Education South Africa Conference, and he recently volunteered with African Health Placements, a nonprofit that places medical practitioners in underserved communities, to assist with their orientation program.
Clive Bruzas, PhD, Academic Coordinator
Clive has a PhD in policy and development studies and an MComm in community, higher education, and service partnerships from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He also has a certificate in primary healthcare service management from the University of the Witwatersrand. Until recently, he was senior manager of the monitoring, evaluation, and research division at The Valley Trust, one of South Africa’s oldest NGOs, where he gained extensive experience in health promotion, community development, food security, and organizational development and was active in partnership programs with institutions of higher education. Foremost among these was the Community, Higher Education, and Service Partnership Program, which aimed to develop higher education institutions in historically disadvantaged communities.
Lecturers for this program typically include:
Nceba Gqaleni, PhD
Nceba trained as a biochemist at the former University of Natal. He obtained his doctorate at the University of Strathclyde in Scotland in 1996. His area of research was applied or environmental microbiology. He is a National Research Foundation–rated researcher with an interest in mycotoxins and indoor air quality, particularly bioaerosols and aeroallergens. He leads the University of KwaZulu-Natal Medical School’s traditional medicine program and chairs its indigenous healthcare systems research program. He has served on the Presidential Task Team on African Traditional Medicine; the Expert Committee on the bio-prospecting program under the National Department of Science and Technology; and the WHO African Regional Office’s committee on traditional medicine.
Andy Gray, MS
Andy is a pharmacist and senior lecturer in the Department of Therapeutics and Medicines Management, Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal, in Durban. He is also consultant pharmacist for the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa. Andy is a fellow of the Pharmaceutical Society of South Africa, past president of the South African Association of Hospital and Institutional Pharmacists, and president of the Hospital Pharmacy Section of the International Pharmaceutical Federation. He has served as a reviewer for numerous scientific journals and has been a member of the editorial committee of the South African Health Review. He has been actively involved in the development and assessment of medicines and other health-related law in South Africa.
Stephen Knight, PhD
Stephen is a physician and senior lecturer in public health medicine at the School of Nursing in Public Health, College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal. He graduated from the University of Witwatersrand with a BSc (Med) and an MB and BCh in 1976 and worked for 10 years as a clinician and hospital manager in rural KwaZulu-Natal, where he completed diplomas in tropical medicine and hygiene, public health, and primary healthcare education at Wits University. His specialist training as a public health medicine physician was completed in Durban. His academic interests include epidemiology and infectious disease control, climate and health, and public health education. He is an executive member of the Public Health Association of South Africa and the College of Public Health Medicine.
Pranitha Maharaj, PhD
Pranitha is a senior lecturer at the School of Development Studies and the academic coordinator of the master’s in population studies program. She holds a doctorate in epidemiology and population health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, United Kingdom. Her research focuses mainly on sexual and reproductive health, especially HIV/AIDS and family planning. She has published numerous scientific articles in local and international peer-reviewed journals, abstracts, research reports, and chapters in books. She has many years of teaching experience at the undergraduate and postgraduate level and has supervised 20 master’s dissertations. In 2007, she was awarded the Erasmus Mundus Scholarship to carry out scholarly work in Europe.
Indres Moodley, PhD
Indres is director of the Health Outcomes Research Unit in the Department of Community Health at the Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal. Prior to that, he was involved in drug discovery research in London, Paris, and the United States. In 1995, he was appointed as chair and head of the Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology at the Medical School, University of the Witwatersrand. In 2000, he was invited to join the Pharmacia Corporation in South Africa as director of health economics and later jointly held the position of medical affairs director.
Yunus Moosa, PhD
Yunus is associate professor, chief specialist, and head of the Department of Infectious Diseases at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He obtained his undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban. He trained in clinical infectious diseases and obtained a PhD in immunology and microbiology at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. His research interests include immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome, smear negative tuberculosis, and anti-retroviral drug resistance.
Steve Reid, PhD
Steve is a family physician with extensive experience in clinical practice, education, and research in the field of rural health in South Africa. As a conscientious objector to military service in the 1980s at Bethesda Hospital in northeastern KwaZulu-Natal, he was involved in community initiatives in health in the Bethesda health ward and completed his master’s thesis in family medicine on the topic of the community involvement of rural clinic nurses. He has published extensively on the issue of compulsory community service and is involved in research projects in the field of rural health, including medical education, human resources for health, and HIV and AIDS. In 2010, he became Glaxo-Wellcome Chair of Primary Health Care at the University of Cape Town.
Zandile Wanda-Mthembu, PhD candidate
Zandile obtained a bachelor’s in social science in psychology and a master’s in sociology, research, and policy studies from the University of Natal and is working on her PhD in public health. She has also completed certificate courses in good clinical practice, basic and advanced counseling, ethics and clinical trials, first aid, and basic facilitation skills. Zandile has extensive work experience in the fields of TB, HIV, and AIDS. She has worked for the UKZN International Office, the Human Science Research Council, BroadReach Healthcare International, and the KZN Provincial Department of Health, where she developed a provincial TB communications strategy. Currently, she works with the Office of the Presidency, evaluating the effectiveness of public health and social development initiatives.
I felt truly at home in South Africa, and I cannot thank my friends and family enough for their immediate and all-embracing hospitality and love during my time with them.
I felt truly at home in South Africa, and I cannot thank my friends and family enough for their immediate and all-embracing hospitality and love during my time with them. They opened up to me the way I hoped they would, and we were able to learn from each other in innumerable ways.
The homestay is an integral part of the SIT experience. During your homestay, you’ll become a member of a local family, sharing meals with them, joining them for special occasions, talking with them in their language, and experiencing the host country through their eyes. Homestay placements are arranged by a local coordinator who carefully screens and approves each family. Students frequently cite the homestay as the highlight of their program. Read more about SIT homestays.
You will learn more about the issues facing Zulu South Africans and develop relationships across lines of nation, class, and/or ethnicity in the homestays on this program.
The main homestay is a five-week stay with isiZulu-speaking families in or close to the township of Cato Manor near Durban and within sight of the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Families have been hosting SIT students in this community for more than 10 years and take pride in ensuring that students are safe and welcome. During these weeks, you will have time to establish relationships of trust and learn the joys and struggles of living in a community facing multiple challenges.
There are also three short (three-night) homestays in the rural areas of Umthwalume, Nzinga, and Sandanezwe, where you will stay in pairs with families. Umthwalume, near Hibberdene on the southern coast, is particularly picturesque, with cattle grazing on the slopes near the Indian Ocean. Here, you will experience the realities associated with high unemployment in an area where chiefs (Indunas) still hold sway over the clan. Nzinga and Sandanezwe are remote rural areas far from the nearest hospital, raising interesting questions about healthcare access for residents.
The program also offers a three-night homestay excursion to Chatsworth, where you will stay among South Africans of Indian origin.
Other accommodations during the program include hostels, private homes, or small hotels.
Joel Burt-Miller Presents Undergrad Research at Human Development Conference
Independent Study Project
Independent Study Project
For the final four weeks of the program, you can choose to conduct original research on a topic of particular interest to you that is relevant in the context of South Africa. The Independent Study Project (ISP) is conducted in Durban or in another approved location. You will choose between a research- or practicum-based project. Practicum options include observation in community health organizations or on a community-based social-science study project. Ethical health research can be done by students who develop relationships of trust in a community, but access to medical facilities is only possible on a volunteer practicum basis with no research permissible.
Sample ISP topic areas:
- Narratives of people living with HIV/AIDS
- Health worker attitudes toward traditional healing
- Community inventory of prenatal healthcare assets
- Sociological consequences of HIV/AIDS
- The discourse of public health education campaigns
- Sustainable development and healthcare
- Local attitudes about access to healthcare facilities
- The role of indigenous healing practices in contemporary South Africa
- Music and its effects on HIV-positive South Africans
- Mental health issues and available healthcare
- Reproductive health in rural South Africa
- A historical review of food security and nutrition programs in a community-based NGO
- African refugees’ and asylum seekers’ access to health services
- Analysis of the proposed National Health Insurance scheme
Students on this program represent a wide range of colleges, universities, and majors. Many of them have gone on to pursue academic and professional work that connects back to their experience abroad with SIT. Recent positions held by alumni of this program include:
- Program coordinator at Unite for Sight, New Haven, CT
- Graduate student preparing to be a women’s health nurse practitioner at Boston College, Boston, MA
- Fulbright scholar in South Africa
Cost and Scholarships
Cost and Scholarships
SIT Study Abroad is committed to making international education accessible to all students. Scholarship awards generally range from $500 to $5,000 for semester programs and $500 to $3,000 for summer programs. This year, SIT will award more than $1.5 million in scholarships and grants to SIT Study Abroad students.
SIT Pell Grant Match Award. SIT Study Abroad provides matching grants to students receiving Federal Pell Grant funding for the term during which they are studying with SIT. This award can be applied to any SIT program. Qualified students must complete the scholarship portion of their application. View all SIT Study Abroad scholarships.
The tuition fee covers the following program components:
- Cost of all lecturers who provide instruction to students in:
- Approaches to Community Health in South Africa
- The Practice and Provision of Community Health in South Africa
- Social and Community Health Research Methods seminar on research methods, field study ethics, and Human Subjects Review
- Intensive language instruction in isiZulu
- All educational excursions to locations such as Johannesburg and several areas in urban and rural KwaZulu-Natal, including all related travel costs
- Independent Study Project or internship (including a stipend for accommodation and food)
- Health insurance throughout the entire program period
Room & Board: $2,810
The room and board fee covers the following program components:
- All accommodations during the entire program period. This includes during orientation, time in the program base (Durban), on all excursions, during the Independent Study Project or internship, and during the final evaluation period. Accommodation is covered either by SIT Study Abroad directly, through a stipend provided to each student, or through the homestay.
- All homestays (including five weeks in Durban and three short rural and suburban homestays)
- All meals for the entire program period. Meals are covered either by SIT Study Abroad directly, through a stipend, or through the homestay.
Estimated Additional Costs:
International Airfare to Program Launch Site
International airline pricing can vary greatly due to the volatility of airline industry pricing, flight availability, and specific flexibility/restrictions on the type of ticket purchased. Students may choose to take advantage of frequent flyer or other airline awards available to them, which could significantly lower their travel costs.
Visa Expenses: $ 88
Books & Supplies: $ 50
International Phone: Each student must have a phone in each country. Cost varies according to personal preferences, phone plans, data plans, etc.
Personal expenses during the program vary based on individual spending habits and budgets. While all meals and accommodations are covered in the room and board fee, incidentals and personal transportation costs differ depending on the non-program-related interests and pursuits of each student. To learn more about personal budgeting, we recommend speaking with alumni who participated in a program in your region. See a full list of our alumni contacts. Please note that free time to pursue non-program-related activities is limited.
Please Note: Fees and additional expenses are based on all known circumstances at the time of calculation. Due to the unique nature of our programs and the economics of host countries, SIT reserves the right to change its fees or additional expenses without notice.
You may choose to undertake a four-week internship with a local community organization, research organization, business, or international NGO to gain valuable work experience and develop your skills in an international work environment. You will also submit a paper to process your learning experience on the job, analyze an issue important to the organization, and/or design a socially responsible solution to a problem identified by the organization.