The University of Stellenbosch



Acronym: UMOYA (breathe)



Overview of study; include sub-studies; maybe say overview of platform

Umoya is a unique ongoing prospective observational cohort of children presenting with symptoms of presumptive PTB. All children are systematically investigated for M. tuberculosis and other respiratory pathogens. Several diagnostic samples are collected at enrolment and during the first 6 months of follow-up. Long-term follow-up until 4 years after enrolment allows us to characterize the long-term effects of PTB on lung health in young children in the context of other common pathogens. Umoya provides a unique opportunity to investigate diagnostic tests/ biomarkers and lung health in children with presumptive PTB. Umoya started recruitment November 2017 and currently has 563 children enrolled.


The clinical team comprises of two clinicians, 4 Research Nurses, 4 research counsellors, 2 drivers and social scientist.  We have support staff from categories of research management, finance, laboratory and data. Support staff reside at the Headquarters of the Desmond Tutu TB Centre, Stellenbosch University Medical Campus and clinical visits take place at the Ikhamva research unit based at the Stellenbosch University Medical Campus.


Umoya initially started as a TB diagnostic study but over the past 5 years has developed into lung health research platform which is also a separate research pillar within the Desmond Tutu TB Centre

The project is focused on collecting high quality data related to TB diagnostics, respiratory pathogens and (post TB) lung health.

The evidence produced from this project will improve the outcome of paediatric TB by earlier TB diagnosis, understanding markers of TB treatment response and gaining knowledge on alternative pathogens, and their joint impact with M. tuberculosis, on lung function and lung health in children, it will allow for the implementation of preventative and tailored therapeutic strategies in children. This could include tailored anti-tuberculosis treatment approaches, targeted vaccination for influenza or respiratory syncytial virus, and immune-modulating antibiotics.


Diagram below depicts the 2 main aims of the study, namely; To test and validation new TB diagnostic tools and to investigate the long-term impact of TB and other viruses on child and lung health. Our well characterized biorepository of diagnostic samples include site of disease samples like saliva, nasopharyngeal aspirates, and other samples including urine, stool, serum and paxgene.


Children on long term follow-up

Grants awards:

In march 2021, Dr Marieke van der Zalm was awarded three international grants collectively valued over R44 million to study various aspects of tuberculosis (TB) and lung health in children. Two of the grants are from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the United States and the other one is from the European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP). Each of the grants are for a period of five years.

Dr Samkelisiwe Nyamathe was awarded the prestigious position of being one of the 200 Mail and Guardian Young South Africans.  This is an annual supplement celebrating exceptional young leaders making a positive impact in over 15 fields including arts, civil society, health, technology and sport. The event recognises young South Africans aged from 18 to 35 who are committed to creating a sustainable future.

Recent Conference presentations:

Stellenbosch University 67th Annual Academic Day we had two oral presentations  and one poster presentation based on the data from this study.

Michaille Anthony a PhD student presented an oral and poster,  “ Domains and items to standardise holistic health-related quality of life assessment for children 0-5 years old with respiratory illnesses including pulmonary tuberculosis” and “Health-related quality of life measures for children with respiratory illnesses: review and evidence synthesis”.

Levern Africa a Research Counsellor on the study presented on “ Acceptability and Feasibility of Sample collection in young children presenting with presumptive TB in Cape Town, South Africa”.













Recent Publications:

BMC Pulm Med. 2023; 23: 97.

Published online 2023 Mar 22. doi: 10.1186/s12890-023-02329-3

PMCID: PMC10032249

PMID: 36949477

UMOYA: a prospective longitudinal cohort study to evaluate novel diagnostic tools and to assess long-term impact on lung health in South African children with presumptive pulmonary TB—a study protocol

Isabelle Dewandel,1 Margaret van Niekerk,1 Elisabetta Ghimenton-Walters,1,2 Megan Palmer,1 Michaile G. Anthony,1 Carla McKenzie,1 Rolanda Croucamp,1 Galit Alter,3,4 Anne-Marie Demers,1,5,6 Gert van Zyl,7,8 Mathilda Claassen,7 Pierre Goussard,9 Ruan Swanepoel,10 Graeme Hoddinott,1 Corne Bosch,1 Rory Dunbar,1 Brian Allwood,11 Eric D. McCollum,1,12 H. Simon Schaaf,1 Anneke C. Hesseling,1 and Marieke M. van der Zalm1

Staff achievements


Completed Studies:

Team member Degree/Diploma/short course Institution
Ingrid Courtney Master’s in Clinical Epidemiology Stellenbosch University
Levern Africa Project Management short course Stellenbosch University Business school

Ongoing studies:

Team member Degree/Diploma/short course Institution
Asikhangile Mtshabe Degree: Bachelor of Commerce in Supply Chain Management UNISA
John Wolmarans Degree: Bachelor of Commerce in Supply Chain Management UNISA
Asanda Mfazwe Occupational Certificate: Cccupational Health and Safety Practitioner Oxbridge Academy

Special event – Bookdash

We partnered with Bookdash since 2022 to bring books to children! Bookdash is an organisation who believes that every child should own a hundred books by the age of five-years. Evidence has shown that owning books are a key factor in a child’s cognitive and socio-emotional development. To make a significant impact to the early learning opportunities for pre-school children in South Africa and globally. Our observation study has access to a large group of under-served children, in addition we see the children often for follow up over a period of 4 years, this has been key to our partnership. See below some pictures of the children receiving the books.  This partnership is on-going!


To learn more:

Contact us: Principle Investigator; Project manager

To learn more about DTTC: [main website link]

To learn more about TB: WHO website; Provincial links for TB services