Cape Town based sabbaticals for practitioners in the field of health policy and systems research & analysis

Call for expressions of interest from policy-makers and mid to senior level managers operating in the South African public health system – for a short-term (one to three month) sabbatical opportunity in Cape Town with the CHESAI collaborative.  To be awarded and taken up during the period 01 August 2014 – 31 August 2015.

CHESAI is a four-year collaboration between the University of Cape Town (UCT) and the University of the Western Cape (UWC), Schools of Public Health, funded by the Canadian International Development Research Centre (IDRC). We are academic organizations engaged in research and policy development with health system decision-makers on a range of health policy and systems’ issues, and also offer teaching programmes in these fields.

The collaboration between the two schools is based on the understanding that Health Policy and Systems Research (HPSR) is an emerging field within the broader terrain of health research, with conceptual and methodological foundations that require substantial development. The overall goal of CHESAI is, therefore, to contribute to expanding and strengthening the health policy and systems knowledge base in Africa through building an intellectual hub for HPSR in Cape Town, South Africa, creating spaces for engagements between researchers and practitioners in South Africa and Africa, and supporting HSPR capacity development and sharing/disseminating new thinking on HPSR with interested stakeholders across Africa.


  1. Build an intellectual hub for health policy and systems research, development and innovation in Africa through inter-institutional collaboration in health systems research and teaching between the Schools of Public Health at the Universities of Cape Town and the Western Cape;
  2. Create spaces for critical engagements between researchers and practitioners, aimed at building African communities of practice in health systems strengthening and innovation;
  3. Provide systematic opportunities and environments for deepening the health policy and systems research knowledge and methodological base, particularly for understanding and impacting on complex health and related systems,
  4. Support African HPSR capacity development through a range of awards to support scholarship and by developing innovative post graduate teaching materials.
  5. Share and disseminate HPSR conceptual and methodological innovations through a range of outputs and communication channels.


The field of Health Policy and Systems Research has at its core the development of knowledge and practice aimed at strengthening health systems – a process which requires ongoing interaction between practical and theoretical knowledge.

However, practitioners rarely have the opportunity to “step back” from the rigours and demands of daily health system duties, to reflect and engage with peers and researchers, or to share their experiences and understanding of health systems functioning through writing and publication within the area of Health Policy and Systems Research (HPSR).

The CHESAI initiative offers this innovative opportunity through short-term sabbaticals for managers and leaders at different levels in the health system.


  • A period of four to twelve weeks to be spent at one of the participating Universities in Cape Town either spent as one block or divided into two visits.
  • An opportunity to contribute to and participate in HPSR activities, such as a seminar series, and the wider academic life of the hosting organisations.
  • An opportunity to read and engage with other practitioners and with researchers working in this field.
  • An opportunity to think, reflect and deepen your understanding of one or more health systems challenges in your own practice.
  • A space to write up and present some of your experiences, with the aim to publish a paper or article.
  • Finances for flights and accommodation in Cape Town for the period of the sabbatical, and a small living allowance (unfortunately we will not be able to offer salary replacement).
  • Access to academic resources at the hosting university.


  • You are a presently working as a policy maker or manager in the South African public health system and have substantial experience in public health sector management and leadership you can share and draw on (note you are not required to be South African nationality, but this particular opportunity is aimed at those engaging in and thinking about the SA health system in some active way).
  • An interest to engage with academics and practitioners working in this field.
  • A willingness to deepen and share, reflect on and write about your experiences as a practitioner in your environment.
  • The ability to spend one or two blocks of time, of between four and twelve weeks in total, in Cape Town, at a time to be negotiated with the CHESAI team and coinciding with other project activities.

Your willingness to systematically engage with a health systems question or challenge and to share your resulting insights through presentation and publication.

If you have questions, please send an email with your contact details and queries to and we will contact you.

If you want to apply, please send an expression of interest to

These applications are reviewed on a bi-monthly basis.

The next review deadlines will be:

  1. 31 August 2014
  2. 31 October 2014
  3. 31 January 2015

Please include a full CV and a one-page outline of a health systems challenge, question or idea that you would like to explore during your sabbatical, clarifying how it relates to your own experience.

We look forward to hearing from you!

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