The University of Stellenbosch

Health Systems and Operational Research

The Desmond Tutu TB Centre (DTTC) aims to improve tuberculosis (TB) and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) care by building an evidence base for effective programme implementation. Health systems and operational research focuses on identifying gaps in health programme quality, efficiency and effectiveness, evaluating factors that contribute to these, and testing interventions to improve outputs and outcomes.

We aim to answer high priority, programmatically relevant questions through rigorous research.  The team is experienced in epidemiological analyses, managing large, routine datasets, conducting health system strengthening and socio-behavioural science research and mathematical modelling, all contributing to the overall aim of generating evidence to inform and strengthen health programme implementation.

The DTTC has successfully implemented numerous health system strengthening and operational research projects, and is leading multiple ongoing health system strengthening and operational research studies.  Specific research within this focus area includes working with special sub-populations (children with TB and people previously treated for TB), and evaluating TB outcomes, including TB mortality.

Operational research at the DTTC is built on an established platform of close collaboration with multiple stakeholders, including routine services, and Departments of Health.  Other collaborations include The South African Centre for Epidemiological Modelling and Analysis (SACEMA), The South African TB Think Tank, The International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (IUATLD) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

In the Spotlight:

  • Publication of the first TB care cascade for South Africa, contributing to the national “Finding the Missing TB cases” initiative.
  • The DTTC is leading a project to evaluate TB control in South Africa since 2004, using a de-duplicated and cleaned national routine TB surveillance data set, in close collaboration with National Department of Health.
  • In response to WHO’s request to strengthen surveillance data for childhood TB, the DTTC is working on optimizing surveillance strategies and strengthening prevention and routine data for children with TB, including HIV co-infected children.
  • The Operational Research Assistance Program (ORAP) joined academic and health services partners throughout South Africa to strengthen operational research capacity and to contribute to improved quality and performance of the health system.

Photo Credit: Kim Cloete