Sefako Makgatho Masters In Public Health

Sefako Makgatho Masters In 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) and 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 courses online to accommodate working health professionals in the SADC region. The teaching platform is provided by Embanet Firstclass, a Canadian-based company that host, 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 school 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 of public health.
  • Semester courses.
  • Laboratory sessions for biostatistics and epidemiology
  • Introduction to research methods
  • 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

Academic Staff

Prof KE Mokwena4618[email protected]
Prof S Madiba3093[email protected]
Prof N Malangu3816[email protected]
Dr P Chelule3330[email protected]
Dr van der Heever3726[email protected]
Dr S Mndzebele4175[email protected]
Dr M Mokgatle4177[email protected]
Dr L Fernandes5031[email protected]
Dr SEP Modjadji3664[email protected]
Ms B Ntuli5033[email protected]
Mr M Mogale3969[email protected]
Mr M Rammopo3855[email protected]
Ms M Huma3055[email protected]
Ms T Khoza3094[email protected]
Mr A Kleinhans3983[email protected]


Our academic programs range from postgraduate diploma to a doctorate in public health.

Currently, three programmes are running:

  • Postgraduate Diploma in Public Health (PGDPH, 1 year course)
  • Master of Public Health (MPH, 2 year course)
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Public Health (PhD, 4 year course)
  • Doctor of Public Health ( DPH, 4 year course)


There are currently 4 sub-departments:

  • Social and Behavioral Sciences
  • Epidemiology and Biostatistics
  • Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health systems and Policy.

Each sub-department is led by a Head of Department.

Sub-department of Social and Behavioural Sciences

The sub-department prepares students to get an understanding the influence of individual, group and cultural factors on the health of populations as well as on the ways in which these factors influence the development and organization of public health programs and service delivery in communities. Students learn to distinguish the relative effectiveness of different public health interventions, utilizing appropriate principles and methods from social and behavioural sciences that address behaviour of individuals, groups and communities. They learn how to design a strategy for developing and/or improving a community-based public health program to reduce the prevalence of particular risk behaviours. They learn to develop a data management plan for assessing the need for a program, relate the relevance of evaluation or research findings for implementing a program, and develop mechanisms to monitor and evaluate community intervention programs for their effectiveness and quality

Sub-department of Epidemiology

The sub-department prepares students to understand the distribution and risk factors for public health problems in the community. Students become familiar with the range of epidemiologic practice, including surveillance, etiologic investigation, and the evaluation of preventive interventions. They learn to define, compute and interpret fundamental epidemiologic measures, explain the principles and the strengths and weaknesses of epidemiologic study designs, know how to apply the fundamental techniques for selection of study populations, have experience with techniques for collecting data and evaluating quality of data, demonstrate basic skills for managing computer-based data, and demonstrate the ability to interpret and present the results of epidemiological research.

Sub-department of Biostatistics

The sub-department prepares students to serve as biostatistics researchers and as vital collaborators in public health projects, providing expertise on the use of statistics in analysis of public health data. Students acquire a foundation of knowledge in the core areas of statistical science, develop skills in defining a problem and determining the variables that are relevant to solving a public health problem, understand the appropriate use of data, the integrity of data sets, and how data can be used in analyzing public health issues. Currently attached to the Department of Epidemiology.

Sub-department of Occupational and Environmental Health:

The sub department prepares students for rewarding professional careers in academia, governmental health agencies, research institutions, and industry.  Students have the opportunity to take part in basic and applied research programs that utilize current techniques in the biological, physical, and medical sciences to address environmental and occupational health problems that impact public health.  Areas of research training and focus include environmental and occupational health, and environmental epidemiology

Sub-department of Health Systems, Management, Policy and Administration

The sub-department prepares students to manage public health and healthcare programs. They learn to articulate alternative models of management/organizational functioning, how these might bear on defining and resolving problems, and understand the uses of organizational research methods in existing organizations. Graduates are able to utilize communication as a tool for developing participation and motivation among organizational members, as well as performing such core leadership tasks as directing, mentoring, facilitating and brokering. They are able to state options for change, provide theoretical rationale and identify barriers to change, and develop mechanisms for monitoring and evaluating programs for their effectiveness and quality.

 Head:  Prof K.E. Mokwena   Contacts:Department of Public HealthPO Box 215MEDUNSA0204Tel: 012 521 4618/4618Fax: 012 521 3314Secretary:  Ms Maphuti ShitlhaneEmail: [email protected]