Postdoctoral fellowship at University of Capetown: Strengthening Community Voice to address Social Determinants of Health

Posted on January 18, 2019

Post-doctoral fellowship (1-2 years): Strengthening Community Voice to address Social Determinants of Health.

This is an exciting opportunity for a post-doc interested in inter-disciplinary approaches to strengthening community participation in the health system, working with community partners to address the social determinants of health. The project emphasizes co-production of knowledge through participatory methods.

The Fellowship is located within the Health and Human Rights Programme in the Division of Public Health Medicine within the School of Public Health and Family Medicine at the University of Cape Town.  The fellowship is for one year and is renewable for a second year.


  • Completed a PhD in the last five years or is soon to graduate with a PhD in the next three months;
  • The PhD must have included social science approaches to health or development;
  • Experience and enthusiasm for working in collaboration with community partners
  • Ability to be reflective in one’s professional and research practice
  • Hold citizenship of a sub-Saharan African country, be an expatriate African, or demonstrate commitment to future work in African health systems
  • Not have previously held any permanent academic positions.


  • Familiarity with community development or community engaged research
  • Familiarity with participatory action research methods
  • Familiarity with the South African health system
  • Conversant in two or more language local to the Western Cape
  • Evidence of robust scholarly performance including a relevant publications record


Conditions of Award:

  • The incumbents will not be expected to provide a service or services in return for the fellowship. (Although some academic activities, such as limited teaching or student support, may be required as part of the PDRF’s professional development);
  • No benefits or travel allowances are included in the value of the fellowship;
  • The successful incumbents will be required to comply with the recruiting University’s approved policies, procedures and practises for the postdoctoral sector.


Package: The fellowship is based on NRF conditions and is valued at R 240 000 tax-free. It is renewable on application for a second year, contingent on satisfactory academic progress. Renewals are not guaranteed. Depending on the availability of funding, a third year may be possible. The general purpose of the PDRF is to provide an opportunity for experiential learning in research which may serve as a path for further academic and professional development

Interested applicants should send their CV (with two contactable referees), a URL for their PhD and any publications, and a covering letter of motivation to Professor Leslie London at by January 31st 2019. Title the email “Post-doc fellowship – Strengthening Community Voice.”

Preference will be given to suitable Black South African candidates but all potential applicants are encouraged to apply.


Summary of the project: This project will bring together Health Committees (HCs) from the Klipfontein and Khayelitsha sub-districts in Cape Town area to work with researchers and students from UCT and UWC over a 3-year period, to co-create a programme of research to address priority needs identified by the HCs.

The overall aim is to explore how HC capacity can be strengthened to be effective vehicles for community voice in the health system. To achieve this, an iterative process of joint planning, reflection and action, involving all partners will identify research priorities, so that research undertaken will meet HC priorities, strengthen their roles as vehicles for community voice in relation to the health system and enable the research to be responsive to community need.

Objectives include (i) describe the process of capacity building for HCs in 2 sub-districts in the Cape Metro including analysis of how HCs exercise leadership in defining their research needs, participate in the research process, and utilise findings to support their advocacy and programmatic work; (ii) describe the impact of the research process on the capacity of HCs to influence the health system; (iii) Describe the extent to which there is mutual learning involving both community and university participants; (iv) explore the role of trust and power within the partnership as a determinant of the success of action for health system change.

Depending on the topics prioritised for investigation in joint planning, use will be made of a diversity of methods for data collection including journaling, in-depth interviews, participant observation, documentary review and quantitative surveys. Frameworks for evaluation will include Theory of Change approaches, Realist Evaluations and use of the PowerCube model.

A core part of the project will include involving community members as co-researchers in the design, planning, implementation, write up and presentation of findings and capacity building of all stakeholders in the project.