Prestigious Wellcome Trust Award for UKZN’s Mental Health Champion
Dr André J van Rensburg, a senior researcher in UKZN’s Centre for Rural Health (CRH), joined the ranks of global pre-eminent scientists when he received the prestigious Wellcome Trust Discretionary Award.
The Wellcome Trust is a premier global health funder with a grant portfolio of £4.3 billion.
The award, which is a Research Fellowship in Humanities and Social Sciences, will be used to develop a research programme to investigate health system responses to severe mental illness in community settings.
In applying for the Discretionary Award, Van Rensburg underwent a rigorous, three-stage external peer-review process. His successful application, worth R1 million, includes research support for a year in the CRH under the supervision of renowned mental health researcher and Psychology Professor, Inge Petersen. This will include exploratory research, network-building and participation in the 6th Global Symposium for Health Systems Research in Dubai later this year.
Van Rensburg is a member of Emerging Voices for Global Health, a multi-partner blended training programme for international young researchers, policy-makers, and advocates for equitable health systems in low-to-middle income countries. He is passionate about strengthening systems to address “diseases of poverty” – particularly tuberculosis and mental illness – in low-to-middle income countries; governance and power relations in healthcare structuring; the political economy of health and healthcare; and intersectoral, state and non-state tensions in health systems reform.
An alumnus of Ghent University in Belgium, Van Rensburg has also developed a passion for brewing beer. He is a keen member of the Durban Homebrewers Club, which supports local community organisations during annual charity events.
Words: MaryAnn Francis