South Africa: Towards evidence-informed policy and practice

30 October, 2018

The HIV denialism of the President Mbeki era (early 2000s) under Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang is said to have contributed to the deaths of more than 300,000 South Africans. It is the most egregious example in recent history (that I know of) of a government failing to provide evidence-informed policy and practice for the health of its population.

A lot has changed in the past 15 years. South Africa can now claim major successes in public health. I read on Twitter (@EpiAFRIC):

'In the last decade, South Africa has expanded its sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR) policies in the areas of abortion, contraception, youth and HIV treatment (with the largest antiretroviral treatment programme in the world)'

Part of this evolution is likely thanks to South African academia, and perhaps especially the South Africa Medical Research Council and the South Africa Cochrane Centre.

Best wishes, Neil

Coordinator, HIFA Project on Evidence-Informed Policy and Practice

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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - ), a global community with more than 18,000 members in 177 countries, interacting on five global forums in three languages. He also currently chairs the Dgroups Foundation (, which supports 800 communities of practice on international development, health and social justice. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: