Helen Schneider is a public health specialist and health systems and policy researcher who has worked for more than 25 years on the problematics of South Africa’s health system. She joined the University of the Western Cape School of Public Health in 2011 and assumed the Directorship in 2013. Since 2015 she is also the Director of the UWC/MRC Health Services to Systems Research Unit, and was recently awarded a SARChI Chair in Health Systems Governance.
She started her career as a trainer of primary health care nurses in rural Limpopo in the mid-1980s and went on to train as a public health specialist at Wits University. She was based there until 2007, working mainly at the Centre for Health Policy which she directed for eight years. Helen has been a long-standing active participant in, and commentator on, health policy in South Africa and has served on, amongst others, the board of the Medical Research Council, the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC) and the Department of Health’s Task Team on Primary Health Care Re-engineering.
Her research and policy interests included in the past an understanding of the political dynamics of AIDS policy under the Mbeki government and the health system-wide implications of programmatic interventions such as ARV scale-up. More recently, her research interests have shifted towards documenting policy implementation processes and strategies to formalize and integrate lay work and community-based care and support initiatives into primary health care. This feeds into a new agenda of work linked to her South African Research Chair in Health Systems Governance.