The team comprises of the following:
Prof. Gregory D. Hussey, Director
Gregory qualified as a medical practitioner at UCT and has had postgraduate training in paediatrics and public health at UCT, and infectious diseases at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. He is registered as a sub-specialist in paediatric infectious diseases. View profile.
A/Prof. Rudzani Muloiwa, Paediatrician
Rudzani trained as a paediatrician at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital and the University of Cape Town (UCT), obtaining a Fellowship in Paediatrics (FCPaeds) with the Colleges of Medicines of South Africa (CMSA) in 2004. After this he completed an M.Sc. (Public Health Developing Countries) at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM, 2008). He has an interest in infectious diseases with a special emphasis on vaccine preventable diseases. Currently A/Prof. Rudzani is the Director of the paediatric HIV Clinical Services at Groote Schuur Hospital while completing a PhD on the epidemiology of pertussis with UCT. View profile.
Dr. Benjamin M. Kagina, Research Officer / Group leader
Benjamin has a MSc. Degree in Epidemiology (from the Jomo Kenyatta University (JKUAT, Kenya) and a PhD in Clinical Sciences & Immunology (from the University of Cape Town (UCT), South Africa). Currently, Benjamin's role is to lead the day to day operations of the group as well as the strategic growth of VACFA. Benjamin works closely with A/Prof. Rudzani Muloiwa and Prof. Gregory Hussey. View profile.
Mr. Stanford Flanagan, Senior Finance Officer
Stanford is currently a Senior Finance Officer at the University of Cape Town. He has been involved in the NGO sector for 30 years and working on the Isisombululo Program with Prof G Hussey for 14 years.
Dr Christine Ritchie,
Christine obtained her MBChB from UCT. Subsequently, she completed her internship and community service before returning to Cape Town. Christine was later employed as a Clinical Researcher in the Department of Paediatrics. She is currently involved in both Hepatitis and Pertussis studies.
Mrs. Hilary Basson, Administrative Officer
Hilary is a trained Paediatric ICU Nurse with 7 years of clinical nursing, she joined the VACFA team to assist with day to day office and project administration. Hilary is also working on website content management with Dr. Benjamin. She is in the Annual African Vaccinology Course 2019 organising committee. Hilary has hands on experience with nursing children and is passionate on promoting immunisation as a strategy to control vaccine preventable diseases.
Dr. Edina Amponsah-Dacosta, Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Edina Amponsah-Dacosta is a trained Medical Virologist, and obtained her PhD in Medical Virology from the Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University in 2017. Her postgraduate research was in the field of viral hepatitis, with a particular focus on the impact of universal hepatitis B vaccination in South Africa, and the molecular genetics of the hepatitis B virus. View profile.
Ms. Jenna Patterson
Jenna graduated with a Masters in Public Health (MPH) from UCT in 2016. She is a member of the Golden Key International Honours Society and Organisation for Women in Science in the Developing World (OWSD). Ms. Patterson’s PhD project is on hepatitis A epidemiology in South Africa. In her PhD project, Ms. Patterson will evaluate the cost-effectiveness of including hepatitis A vaccine into the country’s EPI schedule.
Dr. Okpokoro Evaezi
Okpokoro is a graduate from the University of Benin, College of Medicine and obtained his Masters in Public Health from the University of Nottingham, UK. He is a Research Scientist at the International Research Center of Excellence based in Nigeria as well as a PhD student at VACFA.
His PhD is embedded within a 3-year European Developing Countries Trial Partnership (EDCTP) funded study for which he is the Principal Investigator. The overall focus of his PhD study is to develop a simple scoring tool that can be used in predicting the effectiveness of existing tuberculosis infection control strategies in preventing transmission of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M.tb) infection among healthcare workers in resource limited settings. As a result, his PhD study will prospectively measure the incidence of the M.tb infection among healthcare workers in high HIV and TB burden clinics (i.e. HIV care and treatment centres) and match this with prevailing tuberculosis infection control strategies of the clinics. His research interest is in infectious diseases epidemiology especially on HIV, TB, Malaria as well as vaccine trials.
Mrs. Priscilla Nyambayo
Mrs. Priscilla Patricia Nyambayo, PhD title is “The role of mHealth in surveillance of Adverse Events Following Immunization (AEFIs)-Case study for Zimbabwe.” The purpose of the study is to investigate the challenges of the current passive AEFI surveillance and to test the feasibility of using mHealth for active AEFI surveillance in Zimbabwe.
Priscilla graduated with a master’s degree in clinical pharmacology at University of Zimbabwe in 2001 and BSc Hons. in Pharmacology at Kings College, University of London, UK in 1994. She is also a qualified Registered General Nurse (RGN) from the Oxford School of Nursing, John Radcliff Hospital, Oxford, UK in 1991. She has 10 years’ experience working as Head-Pharmacovigilance and Clinical Trials Division and Good Clinical Practice (GCP) inspector at the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ). She is a member of the World Health Organization (WHO) African Vaccines Regulatory Forum (AVAREF) Technical Coordinating Committee. Priscilla is a member of Zimbabwe’s National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NITAG). She is a member and cofounder of the African Society of Pharmacovigilance (ASoP). She is also a member of the International Society of Pharmacovigilance (ISoP). She is a WHO regulatory pharmacovigilance consultant who co-facilitated several vaccines safety and pharmacovigilance courses in Africa.
Dr Helen Mearns
Helen Mearns is a trained as an immunologist with a PhD in 2012 from the Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. Her postdoc at the South African Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative (SATVI), University of Cape Town (UCT), was in clinical immunology with a focus in vaccinology. Her interest in evidence-based practice lead her to pursue training in systematic review methods here at VACFA. She is co-supervised by Benjamin Kagina (VACFA), Bey-Marrie Schmidt and Tamara Kredo at the Cochrane Collaboration South Africa, South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) and funded by the Collaboration for Evidence-Based Healthcare and Public Health in Africa (CEBHA+).
Mr. Paul Kuodi Otiku
Mr. Paul Kuodi Otiku is a Public Health enthusiast with a keen interest in evidence-based health care. His MPH dissertation project involves the characterization of environmental presence of hepatitis A virus in Low and Middle-Income countries using systematic review and meta-analysis methods.
Ms Ntombifuthi Blose
Miss Ntombifuthi graduated with Honours in Medical Sciences from UCT in 2018. Her Honours was on Infectious Diseases and Immunology. Ntombifuthi's interests in vaccinology and public health led her to join VACFA. Subsequently she enrolled for the MPH course specialising in Epidemiology and Biostatistics in 2019. Her Masters mini-dissertation will focus on the descriptive analysis of timeliness of routine immunisation among hospitalized children in the Western Cape, South Africa.
Prof Charles Shey Wiysonge
Director, Cochrane South Africa
Honorary Professor, School of Public Health. UCT
Professor Wiysonge is the Director of Cochrane South Africa, the South African Cochrane Centre, at the South African Medical Research Council. The vision of Cochrane South Africa is that healthcare decision-making within Africa will be informed by high-quality, timely and relevant research evidence. He is also a Professor in the Department of Global Health at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, South Africa. Professor Wiysonge was previously the Deputy Director of the Centre for Evidence-based Health Care, Head of the Knowledge Translation Unit, and Head of the Implementation Research Regional Training Centre at Stellenbosch University, South Africa. His appointments prior to joining Stellenbosch University included Project Manager of the Vaccines for Africa Initiative and Chief Research Officer at the University of Cape Town, South Africa; Chief Research Officer at UNAIDS, Geneva; Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Central Technical Group in charge of the Expanded Programme on Immunisation, Cameroon; and Medical Epidemiologist at Centre Pasteur du Cameroun, Yaoundé, Cameroon.
Professor Wiysonge obtained the Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree from the University of Yaoundé I, Cameroon (MD); a Master of Philosophy (MPhil) from the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom (UK); and a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) from the University of Cape Town, South Africa. He also undertook postgraduate non-degree research training at the UK Cochrane Centre and the University of Oxford, UK. He is a Member of the Academy of Science of South Africa.
Professor Wiysonge is a member of the GRADE Working Group; Gavi Independent Review Committee; WHO African Regional Committee on Health Research and Development; GREAT (Guideline‐driven, Research priorities, Evidence synthesis, Application of evidence, and Transfer of knowledge) Network; and other international scientific and policy advisory committees in the fields of immunisation, evidence-based health care, and implementation science.
Professor Wiysonge’s research interests include immunisation, health system strengthening, and knowledge translation / implementation science. He was knighted by the Presidency of Cameroon with the National Order of Valour, the highest honour in Cameroon, in the category “Chevalier".
Dr Warren Hickson
Dr Warren Hickson is a multidisciplinary researcher, combining behavioural health psychology, social science methodologies, health communication science and design/visual communication practice. In 2016 he completed his PhD “An interdisciplinary study exploring how health communication can most effectively explain antiretroviral medication (ART) and motivate adherence among young people. University of Cape Town, South Africa (2016)”. Currently Dr Hickson is collaborating with the Vaccines for Africa Initiative (VACFA), supporting the development of their communications and advocacy strategy that includes the launch of a ‘Living Lab’ project. Living Lab project is part of a broader VACFA+90 initiative that will explore and develop evidenced-based communication solutions designed to increase vaccine uptake and vaccine schedule adherence.
Dr. Leila Abdullahi
Leila Hussein Abdullahi completed her MPH at UCT in 2012, and began full-time study towards her PhD which she obtained in July 2019 at UCT.
Leila Abdullahi thesis focuses on immunisation of adolescents, a group that do not derive optimal public health benefits from such a program. Absence of structured programs to vaccinate this population group, particularly in Low- and Middle- Income countries (LMICs), is the main reason for sub-optimal uptake. For her PhD, she conducted a mixed methods evidence synthesis approach to understand the obstacles and likely solutions needed to improve adolescent immunisation in LMICs. One of the main findings is that interventions that include health education may be most successful when implemented in combination with others that address multiple factors. In addition, the challenges, experiences and lessons learnt from the pilot studies of recent HPV vaccination introduction programmes are extremely useful and should be seen as an ideal platform to build adolescent vaccination programmes more generally. Overall, these studies will be useful to inform policy makers on the dynamics associated with uptake of vaccines among adolescents
Page created on 14 September 2016
Page last updated on 23 July 2019
Vaccines for Africa Initiative (VACFA)
Institute of Infectious Diseases and Molecular Medicine (IDM)
Wernher & Beit North Wing, Room N2.09A
University of Cape Town
Faculty of Health Sciences
Observatory, 7925, Cape Town, South Africa
Tel: +27 21 406 6692
+27 21 406 6066