Activity Report (2019-2020)
Message from the Directors
One of the stickiest problems in global health research is the vast discrepancy in research evidence
emanating from low- and middle-income countries compared to evidence from rich countries. Over
90% of published research is published by and focuses on only 10% of the world’s population – known
as the 90/10 gap. Addressing this imbalance is a key imperative for global health in general, and for the
Institute for Life Course Health Research in particular. It is more important than ever to generate evidence and contribute to knowledge about child and adolescent development across the life course in diverse contexts, and to understand the role that enabling environments (families, communities, policies) play in promoting optimal development. At the Institute we are excited to contribute to ensuring that low and middle-income countries (LMICs) contribute more substantially to producing this crucial evidence.
The Institute moved to our permanent home in the Department of Global Health at Stellenbosch
University at the beginning of 2019. Embedded within the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
(FMHS) we strive to align with the faculty’s commitment to “enhance health and health equity with and
for the communities [we] serve”. As a collective, the Institute is committed to being part of global efforts
to eradicate poverty, reduce massive inequality and to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. A
central pillar of our work is developing and testing interventions about what works in LMIC settings.
In doing this, we are collaborative, work alongside communities and strive to ensure that we listen to
the voices of children and adolescents. Our projects focus not only on generating knowledge, but on
making sure that we take what we have learned back to communities to engage individuals, families,
and leaders in conversations about how to use the evidence we generate to promote behaviour change
and family and community resilience.
Our new position within the Faculty has given us the opportunity to collaborate with a number of
other research units and groups, partnerships we look forward to continuing. We are also fortunate
to collaborate with diverse local and international organisations and researchers, finding new ways to
understand health and wellbeing along the life course, and sharing our work with a broader global
audience. In the years to come, we hope to build on this momentum and identify opportunities to foster
new collaborations. Since our move to FMHS we have been awarded R49 813 150 in research funding,
published 72 peer-reviewed papers and have given over 40 presentations in a range of settings - all
testament to a highly dedicated and productive team.
Like many others across the world, we experienced a challenging set of losses and changes within
our ILCHR team in 2020 as a consequence of the pandemic. We were devastated to lose Nomawethu
Simangala in January 2021 to COIVD-19. ‘Noma’ as she was affectionately known, had been working in
our team for over 10 years and approached her work with deep care and empathy for the parents and
children participating in our projects. Early in the pandemic, a former staff member, Tembi Qondela,
also died as a result of COIVD-19. Both are greatly missed and we hope to pay tribute to them by
continuing to work to serve the communities they loved. Despite facing a number of personal and
professional obstacles set by the pandemic and various stages of lockdown, the ILCHR team rose to the
challenge and continued to deliver excellent work. We would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to
every member of the ILCHR team for their continued dedication, and we are excited to share a set of
meaningful contributions in the report that follows.
Professor Mark Tomlinson and Associate Professor Sarah Skeen
Co-Directors: Institute for Life Course Health Research
Download/ read the full report here.