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 Prof. David Sanders

Position: Professor
Department: School of Public Health
Faculty: Faculty of Community and Health
Qualifications: Emeritus Prof David Sanders, MBChB (Birm), DCH
(RCS Eng), MRCP (UK), DTPH (London), DSc (Hon
Causa) (UCT)
Tel: + 27 21 959 2132
Fax: + 27 21 959 2872


David Sanders headed the SOPH from its inception in 1993 till 2009. He has over 30 years’ experience in public health and primary health care in Zimbabwe and South Africa and has worked extensively with governments, the WHO, UNICEF and other agencies in child health, nutrition and health human resources. He is active in various civil society organisations that promote social justice and Health for All.
David’s qualifications are in paediatrics and public health and his main interests are health and development, child health, nutrition, primary health care and human resource development. He is the author of many peer reviewed articles and three books: The Struggle for Health; Questioning the Solution; and Fatal Indifference:The G8, Africa and Global Health.
David was Heath Clark Visiting Lecturer at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in 2005 and an Honorary Professor at that institution from 2005 to 2007. He is a Visiting Professor at Charité–Universitätsmedizin, Berlin as well as at the Centre for International Health, University of Bergen, Norway, with which he continues to collaborate. He has been appointed as an Honorary Professor in the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, UCT from July 2013 and as Professor in the School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, Flinders University of South Australia from August 2013.
In 2012 David was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by UCT in recognition of his contribution to the development of policies and programmes in primary health care nationally and internationally. In 2013 he was the recipient of the  International Academic Partnership Merit Award from the Faculty of Medicine, University Eduardo Mondlane, Mozambique, and in 2014 he received the Public Health Innovation and Lifetime Achievement (PHILA) Award from the Public Health Association of South Africa (PHASA).


Rudin J & Sanders D. (2011). Chapter 13. Debt, structural adjustment and health. In: Solly, R, Brock, B & Brock, G (eds.), Global Health and Global Health Ethics. United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press): 155-165.
Sanders D, Reynolds, L & Lake, L. (2012). Addressing inequities in child health: Opportunities and challenges. In: Hall, K, Woolard, I, Lake, L & Smith, C (eds.), South African Child Gauge. Cape Town: Children’s Institute, University of Cape Town): 58-64.
Baum, F & Sanders D. Ottawa 25 years on: A more radical agenda for health equity is still required. Health Promot Int, 2011 Dec; 26(2):253-7.
Bradley H, Bheekie A & Sanders D. Public health: Every pharmacist’s business!. SA Pharmaceutical Journal, 2011: 78(10):34-36.
Brown A, Cometto G, Cumbi A, de Pinho H, Kamwendo F, Lehmann U, McCourt W, McPake B, Pariyo G & Sanders D. Mid-level health providers: A promising resource. HRH Exchange of the Global Health Workforce Alliance, June 2011; 28(2):308-15. (English, Spanish)
Doherty T, Sanders D, Goga A, & Jackson D. Implications of the new WHO guidelines on HIV and infant feeding for child survival in South Africa. WHO Bulletin 2011, 2011; 89:62-67.
Doherty T, Sanders D, Jackson D, Swanevelder S, Lombard C, Zembe W, Chopra M, Goga A, Colvin M, Fadnes L, Engebretsen I, Ekström E & Tylleskär T. Early cessation of breastfeeding amongst women in South Africa: An area needing urgent attention to improve child health. BMC Pediatrics, 2012; [Online], 12(105). Available from:
Fadnes L, Jackson D, Engebretsen IM, Zembe W, Sanders D, Sommerfelt H, Tylleskär T & PROMISE-EBF Study Group. Vaccination coverage and timeliness in three South African areas: A prospective study. BMC Public Health, 27 May 2011; 11(404).
Goga A, Doherty T, Jackson D, Sanders D, Colvin M, Chopra M & Kuhn L. Infant feeding practices at routine PMTCT sites, South Africa: Results of a prospective observational study amongst HIV exposed and unexposed infants - birth to 9 months. International Breastfeeding Journal, 2012; [Online], 7(4). Available from:
Gupta N, Maliqi B, França A, Nyonator F, Pate MA, Sanders
D, Belhadj H, & Daelmans B. Human resources for maternal,
newborn and child health: From measurement and planning to performance for improved health outcomes. Human Resources for Health, 2011; [Online], 9(6). Available from:
Gostin LO, Friedman EA, Ooms G, Gebauer T, Gupta N, Sridhar D, Chenguang W, Røttingen J & Sanders D. The Joint Action and Learning Initiative: Towards a global agreement on national and global responsibilities for health. PLos Medicine, May 2011; 8(5). E1001031.
Igumbor E, Sanders D, Puoane T, Tsolekile L, Schwarz C, Purdy C, Swart R, Durão S & Hawkes C. ’Big Food’, the consumer food environment, health and the policy response in South Africa. PLos Medicine, 2012; 9(7). e10141253. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001253.
Ijumba P, Doherty T, Jackson D, Tomlinson M, Sanders D & Persson L. Free formula milk in the prevention of motherto-child transmission programme: Voices of a peri-urban community in South Africa on policy change. Health Policy and Planning, 11 Nov 2012; [Online] pp. 1-8. doi:10.1093/heapol/czs114.
Ijumba P, Doherty T, Jackson D, Tomlinson M, Sanders D &
Persson L. Social circumstances that drive early introduction
of formula milk: An exploratory qualitative study in a periurban
South African community. Maternal and Child Nutrition, 11 December 2012; [epub ahead of print] doi:10.1111/mcn.12012.
Javanparast S, Baum F, Labonte R, Sanders D, Heidari G, & Rezaie S. A policy review of the community health worker
programme in Iran. Journal of Public Health Policy, May 2011;
32(2):263-76. Epub 2011, Mar 3. Review.
Javanparast S, Baum F, Labonte R & Sanders D. Community health workers’ perspectives on their contribution to rural health and well-being in Iran. Am J Public Health, December 2011; 101(12):2287-92. Epub 2011, Oct 20.
Javanparast S, Baum F, Labonte R, Sanders D, Rajabi Z & Heidari
G “The experience of community health workers training in Iran: A qualitative study. BMC Health Services Research, 2012; [Online], 12(291). Available from: http://www.biomedcentral. com/1472-6963/12/291. doi:10.1186/1472-6963-12-291.
McCoy D, Labonte R, Walt G, Sanders D, Ram R, Luppe T, Germain A & Dare L. The IHP+: A welcome initiative with an uncertain future. Lancet, 28 May 2011; 377(9780):1835-6.

Medhanyie A, Spigt M, Kifle Y, Schaay N, Sanders D, Blanco R, Geertjan D & Berhane Y. The role of health extension workers in improving utilization of maternal health services in rural areas in Ethiopia: A cross sectional study. BMC Health Services Research, 2012; 12(1):352. doi: 10.1186/1472-6963-12-352.
Mosquera PA, Hernández J, Vega R, Martínez J, Labonte R, Sanders D San Sebastián M. The impact of primary healthcare in reducing inequalities in child health outcomes, Bogotá - Colombia: An ecological analysis. Int J Equity Health, 13 Nov 2012; 11:66 doi:10.1186/1475-9276-11-66.
Mosquera P, Hernández J, Vega R, Martínez J, Labonte R, Sanders D & San Sebastián M. Primary health care contribution to improve health outcomes in Bogota-Colombia: A longitudinal ecological analysis. BMC Family Practice, 2012; 13(84). Available from: doi:10.1186/1471-2296-13-84.
Nkonki L, Cliff J & Sanders D. Lay health worker attrition: Important but often ignored. Bull World Health Organ, 2011; 89:919–923. doi:10.2471/BLT.11.087825.
Sanders D, Baum F, Benos A & Legge D. Revitalising primary healthcare requires an equitable global economic system - now more than ever. J Epidemiol Community Health, August 2011; 65(8):661-5. Epub 2006 Dec.
Sanders D, Labonté R, Packer C & Schaay N. Dimensiones comunitarias de la Atención Primaria Integral en Salud. Saúde em Debate, Rio de Janeiro, 2012; 36(94):473-481.
Sundewall J, Swanson R, Betigeri A, Sanders D, Collins T, Shakarishvili G & Brugha R. Health-systems strengthening: Current and future activities. Lancet, 9 April 2011; 377(9773):1222-3.
Swingler G, Hendricks M, Hall D, Hall S, Sanders D, McKerrow N, Saloojee H & Reid S. Issues in child health. Can a new paediatric sub-specialty improve child health in South Africa? SAMJ, 2012; 102(9):738-739.
Tomlinson M, Doherty T, Jackson D, Lawn J, Ijumba P, Colvin M, Nkonki L, Daviaud E, Goga A, Sanders D, Lombard C, Persson L-A, Ndaba T, Snetro G & Chopra M. An effectiveness study of an integrated, community-based package for maternal, newborn, child and HIV care in South Africa: Study protocol for a randomized controlled trial. Trials, 2011; 12(236).
Tylleskär T, Jackson D, Meda N, Engebretsen IM, Chopra M, Diallo AH, Doherty T, Ekström EC, Fadnes LT, Goga A, Kankasa C, Klungsøyr JI, Lombard C, Nankabirwa V, Nankunda JK, Van de Perre P, Sanders D, Shanmugam R, Sommerfelt H, Wamani H & Tumwine JK for PROMISE-EBF Study Group. Exclusive breastfeeding promotion by peer counsellors in sub-Saharan Africa  (PROMISE-EBF): A clusterrandomised trial. Lancet, 2011;  378(9789):420-7.
Zembe W, Doherty T, Sanders D, Jackson D, Chopra M, Swanevelder S, Lombard C & Surender R. Why do families still not receive the unconditional child support grant in South Africa? A longitudinal analysis of a cohort of families across South Africa. BMC International Health and Human Rights, 2012: 12(24).




 Member: Public Health Association of South Africa (PHASA), 2002-present.
Life member: Nutrition Society of South Africa
Member and vice-chair (2009) and Chair (2010): People’s Health Movement, South Africa
Member: Global Co-ordinating Commission, People’s Health Movement
Member: Global Steering Council, People’s Health Movement
Board member: Amandla Publishers
Board member: Alternative Information and Development Centre (AIDC)
Board member: Health Systems information Programme (HISP), South Africa
Member of governing board: Chronic Diseases Initiative in Africa (CDIA)
Member of advisory board: African Centre for Global Health and Social Transformation (ACHEST), Uganda
Member of advisory group: IHP+ Results (monitoring group researching International Health Partnership), 2009-present
Consultant: UNICEF Regional Office for West and Central Africa - undertook a review of country experiences and compilation of good practices in implementing integrated community-based maternal, neonatal and child health and nutrition interventions;
and facilitated a Regional Workshop, April-June 2011.
Technical Assistant: DfID - Commissioned stakeholder analysis and overview of health reform initiatives (South African Health Systems), completed April 2011
Consultant: South African Presidency - prepared paper on ‘Priorities in a human resources strategy for the health sector’ for the Health chapter in The National Development Plan. Completed September 2011.
Regional Health Advisor: Save the Children (UK). September 2011 to June 2012 (part-time).
Health and HIV consultant: Save the Children (UK) East and Southern Africa. 1 July-31 December 2012.
Technical Adviser: developed an overview paper of national-level reform initiatives to assist the Department for International Development (DFID) with the co-ordination and sequencing of their technical and programme support to the country’s health department. November 2010 - April 2011.
Member of Reference Group: evaluated the Population Health Programme of The Atlantic Philanthropies in South Africa. November 2011 to March 2012.
Member: Western Cape Provincial Health Department Nutrition Advisory Committee.
Member: Western Cape Provincial Health Department Technical Working Group: Infant & Child Nutrition.
Member: Western Cape Provincial Department of Social Development Early Childhood Development Work Stream.
Member: Western Cape Provincial Health Department Early Childhood Development Task Team.
Member: Global Health Workforce Alliance’s international expert panel to develop guidelines for the scaling up of community health worker programmes.
Member: WHO Working Group on Policy and Health System Indicators of Countdown to Track Progress in Maternal, Newborn and Child Survival. 2008-present.
Reviewer: British Medical Journal
Reviewer: Health Policy and Planning
Reviewer: Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health
Member of editorial advisory board: Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health
Member of editorial board: Critical Public Health, Centre
for Social and Policy Research, School of Social Sciences,
University of Teesside, Middlesbrough, UK.
Associate Editor: International Journal of Integrated Care,
Utrecht University, Netherlands.
External examiner: Professional Doctorate in Public Health Dissertation (DrPH), Discipline of Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia.
Visiting Professor: teaching on the Master Study Program ‘Health and Society: International Gender Studies Berlin’, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, October 2012.
Visiting Professor: teaching on the Masters Study Programme ‘Health and Society: International Gender Studies Berlin’, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, October 2012.
Rated as a B2 researcher by the NRF (National Research Foundation) in January 2012
Awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Cape Town in recognition of his contribution to development of policies and programmes in Primary Health Care nationally and internationally, 8 June 2012

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