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Theme Leadership:


  • Esther Buckson (MPH)
    • Prevalence and cost of surgically amenable abnormalities on magnetic resonance imaging in rural South Africans with active convulsive epilepsy
  • Tammy Oldwadge (MPH)
    • Exploring the profile of suicide victims in rural South Africa
  • Ruvimbo Chiswo (MPH)
    • The gender gap in adolescent mental health in rural South Africa: a qualitative study of user and provider perspectives
  • Tamerah Nkuna (MRes)
    • Exploring the perceptions and lived experiences of adolescent mothers with post-partum depression in rural Mpumalanga
  • Moyahabo Rampya (PhD)
    • Implementing acute stroke care in South Africa: An evaluation using the Re-Aim framework
Theme Objectives

The Mental and Neurological Health and Wellbeing (MNHW) theme at the MRC/Wits Rural Public Health and Health Transitions Research Unit (Agincourt) seeks to bring together research related to the human brain and mind across the life course. The ultimate goal is to strengthen research and innovation and generate solutions to the large unaddressed burden of mental, neurological and substance-use (MNS) conditions in rural and low-resource contexts within South Africa and on the African continent. This working group will exploit similarities in methodological approaches, and leverage the interdisciplinary skillsets of researchers that make up the teams of investigators on individual projects within the theme, and build capacity for MNHW research in Southern Africa.

Our aims:

  1. To define the burden of brain and mind conditions affecting rural South and Southern Africa using innovative field, computing and clinical assessment methodologies.
  2. To assess the social, economic, environmental, health and health system determinants and impact of these conditions. 
  3. To assess the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of novel interventions that seek to mitigate the burden of mental, neurological and substance-use (MNS) conditions at the population level. 
  4. To engage with key stakeholders and policy makers, including the Departments of Health, Education and Social Development, to strengthen and revitalise service provision for MNS conditions within the primary health care system.

The MNHW theme is comprised of six scientific work streams that span the brain-mind spectrum (recognizing inherent overlap and relatedness) and seek to provide scientific structure to the aims of the theme.

These include:

  1. Cerebrovascular Insults,
  2. Epilepsy and Movement Disorders,
  3. Cognition & Neurodegenerative Disorders,
  4. Severe Mental Illness
  5. Common Mental Disorders and
  6. Resilience & Wellbeing.

The scientific workstreams largely map on to previous, ongoing and planned future research projects at the MRC/Wits-Agincourt.

The theme is supported by six operational cores that enable the overall operational functioning of the theme and ensure that the scientific deliverables are met. The cores include:

  • Community & Health Systems Engagement
  • Field Research Operations (on-site management of research includes ethics applications, HR, procurement, budget etc)
  • Population-based surveys & Analytics
  • Qualitative & Social Sciences
  • Clinical & neuropsychiatric assessments
  • Imaging & biomarkers.