Who we are

Harsha Somaroo

Dr Harsha Somaroo

Harsha Somaroo is a Public Health Medicine Specialist, committed to protecting and improving health, healthcare, and health equity. She currently holds a joint appointment post at the Department of Community Health, at the University of the Witwatersrand’s School of Public Health, and Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital. Her professional and academic qualifications include a medical degree, a Fellowship in Public Health Medicine, a Masters of Medicine in Public Health Medicine, a Master of Science in Epidemiology, a Diploma in HIV/AIDS Management, and a Postgraduate Diploma in Higher Education.

She has been involved with various aspects of clinical care and public health systems’ management; and believes that improvements both within and outside the health system are essential to improve the quality of healthcare and health equity. Within the health care sector, she wants to influence changes related to enhancing clinical and corporate governance, and overall health systems strengthening. Outside the health care system, she wants to work to promote actions to address the social determinants of health and to foster heightened social conscientisation among all South Africans.

She views PHASA as a multi-disciplinary organisation of individuals who are all ultimately advocating for greater health equity in South Africa. She is keen to support the association amplify its collective voice in order to advocate for improved healthcare and health equity, to improve networking between like-minded organisations, to enhance knowledge sharing on significant issues, and to capacitate the diverse membership in order to harness individual strengths and further develop areas of public health interest.

Dr Lwando Maki

Dr Lwando Maki

Dr Lwando Maki is young leader with tremendous potential. He has held a number of leadership positions in health-related organisations including Chairperson and Secretary-General of the South African Registrars Association. At the University of Pretoria where I have worked with Dr Maki, he proved to be a very effective postgraduate students' representative. He has always shown a great deal of interest in PHASA and its activities. Because of his extensive networks, Dr Maki will be able to assist in building PHASA's membership base and establishing new local partnerships. Due to his roles in the World Medical Association, International Epidemiological Association, he could assist PHASA in building/strengthening relationships with these organisations. In addition, I believe Dr Maki could play important roles in marketing and advocacy. As an enthusiastic and dynamic young person, he may also have a valuable role to play in PHASA Executive's support of JuPHASA. Dr Maki is someone I believe will add great value to the organisation and I, therefore, nominate him to fill one of the vacancies on the PHASA Exec.

"My passion is to do work that benefits my fellow human beings and I believe that growing PHASA will benefit people from Africa and the global village."

Tiaan Eksteen

Mr Tiaan Eksteen

Mr Eksteen is part of the Executive Board (Treasurer) of the Public Health Association of South Africa (PHASA) and his vision is to use his financial and public health expertise to enhance financial governance and functioning within PHASA, and to support PHASA to strengthen public health in South Africa and collaborate globally (especially in Africa). Mr Eksteen was also part (course coordinator) of the Health Emergencies in Large Population Course which is a training course for the management of health interventions in armed conflicts. The course was presented jointly with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

As an experienced financial and resource mobilisation manager, working at the School of Health Systems and Public, Faculty of Health Science, University of Pretoria, Mr Eksteen works closely with national and international funders, bringing together academic programmes and research projects addressing key issues in Public Health. Mr Eksteen possess the necessary experience and qualifications BEd (UP) BEd Hons (UP) BCom Hons (UNISA) MPH (UP).

Mr Eksteen has a strong interest in mental health, health policy and management, corporate governance and overall health systems strengthening.

Tawanda Chivese

Board Member:
Dr Tawanda Chivese

"To increase PHASA’ leadership role in public health, PHASA’s visibility in issues of public health interest, and participation and enrollment of new members – especially target the schools of public health – to improve awareness of PHASA among students"

Tawanda Chivese is a clinical epidemiologist who holds a PhD in Medicine from the University of Cape Town. He is a lecturer at the College of Medicine at Qatar University. He is also an extra-ordinary lecturer in the Department of Global Health at Stellenbosch University and an honorary researcher at the SAMRC/Wits Developmental Pathways for Health Research Unit, at the University of the Witwatersrand. He is mainly interested in research on chronic diseases with a special interest in diabetes. He is also interested in and published in other areas including HIV, TB, and COVID-19.

Natisha Dukhi

Board Member:
Dr Natisha Dukhi

Dr Natisha Dukhi is a Research Specialist at the Human Sciences Research Council in South Africa. She has spent over a decade working as a Medical Scientist, specializing in Human Anatomy, Physiology, Pathophysiology and Nutrition at various universities in SA.

Since 2009, she has been involved with community health and NGOs, and served as an online mentor for the Triune Uganda 2009 Global Project for Pharmacy and Social Science students from countries in Africa, America, Europe and Asia. In 2016, she graduated with a PhD in Public Health at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

She is an eclectic behavioral scientist, with various interdisciplinary research focuses. Her areas of expertise include Nutrition, Maternal, Adolescent and Child Health, health promotion and non-communicable diseases, with special interest in mHealth, Artificial Intelligence, and Gender-based violence.

She serves as a PI, co-PI and Project Director on various interdisciplinary projects. Her scientific experience and collaborations have led to various interdisciplinary publications, book chapters and conference proceedings. She is on the Executive Board of Directors for the Public Health Association of South Africa (PHASA), an Affiliate Member of the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) and President of the African ChangeMakers South African chapter, among others. She is a reviewer for various national and international journals. In 2018, she was selected as a BRICS Young Scientist, and a recipient of the Gro Brundtland Award for outstanding work in the field of public health and sustainable development.

Dr Amilcar Juggernath

Board Member:
Dr Amilcar Juggernath

Amilcar is a registrar in Public Health Medicine, training through the Gauteng Department of Health. After his undergraduate medical training at the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, he returned home to Durban for his internship. He then worked at Bethesda, a rural district hospital in northern KwaZulu Natal, as a community service doctor, then a medical officer, following which he returned to Johannesburg to begin an MMed at Wits towards his specialisation.

He has a keen interest in health policy, equity, addressing determinants of health and rural health.

Mrs Coceka Mdiya

Board Member:
Ms Coceka Mdiya

Coceka is a Clinical Nurse Practitioner by profession with attributes in Midwifery, Community Health, Nursing Administration, Primary Health Care, BComEd, Master of Public Health from UPE. Worked experience as Management Assistant, QIA, NIMART Team Lead, Clinical Linkage Manager and Project Manager for HIV/AIDS Program. Experience in strengthening health systems and providing leadership for and coordinating processes related to the project activities at all levels. Provide technical input in coordinating the administrative aspects of the program strategy development, processes specifically related to the programme. Support clinical & community based health services for HIV prevention, care and treatment services for AGYW, Community Care and HAART management(Paeds & Adults), GBV and OVC services.

Dr Thameshree Naidu

Board Member:
Dr Thameshree Naidu

Dr Thameshree Naidu is a Public Health Medicine Specialist who supports teams, organisations and governments in developing resilient health systems. She has developed and led large scale collaborative projects working across diverse role players providing technical support to develop measureable innovative solutions. She currently serves as country advisor for the Africa Hospital Patient Safety Initiative (AHPSI) that begins to address the WHO third global patient safety challenge, Medication Without Harm in Africa working across South Africa, Ghana and Ethiopia.

She obtained a MMed (Public Health) in 2011 from the University of KwaZulu Natal(UKZN) and a Fellowship in Public Health Medicine (FCPHM) from the College of Medicine in South Africa(CMSA). She holds a Diploma in HIV Management (Dip HIV Man) also from the CMSA and Graduated with a MBCHB from the University of Cape Town(UCT) in 1998. Dr Naidu has completed a professional development programme with the Institute of Healthcare Improvement(IHI) and serves as Faculty/Improvement Advisor supporting their work in Africa.

Her key public health interests are applying systems and design thinking to solve problems by facilitating the development of bottom up solutions that produce measureable improvement. She is passionate about exploring practical solutions to the policy practice gap and believes that these solutions lie with the implementers themselves. She is interested in developing methods to evaluate locally developed innovative solutions for scalability and sustainability.

As a member of the PHASA executive she would like to increase its accessibility. In particular, she wants to support and capacitate frontline health workers to share their work and experiences to contribute to broader policy discussions.

René Sparks

Board Member:
René Sparks

Rene is a registered Nurse by profession, who has completed a Masters’ in Public Health and passionate about making an impact on quality health nationwide. Her leadership roles include being an Aspen New Voices Fellow (2021), a Senior Atlantic Fellow based at Tekano Health Equity – South Africa, a Director: Health Advocacy and Clinical Compliance South Africa (HACCSA), SANAC Civil Society Forum: Health Professionals Sector Leader, Programme Review Committee Member and TB Task Team Member, Presidential Health Compact – Health Professionals Representative, and PHASA Civil Society HIV/AIDS, STI and TB (HAST) Special Interest Group: Founder and Chair

She is experienced in quality assurance of health care, monitoring compliance to health standards and developing of monitoring tools. Engages in various public and private health programmes including: primary healthcare training, clinical support on HIV prevention