Mandy Maredza (Zimbabwe; PhD Student Jan 2012 - Dec 2015)

I was fortunate enough to be offered a scholarship to study towards the Master of Health Economics from the Swedish International Development Agency. The 18 months of study were a complete joy for me and when an opportunity to work as a junior health economist opened at the University of the Witwatersrand’s School of Public Health, I gladly took it. During that time I conducted cost analysis for economic modelling projects, contributed to developing protocols and drafted research manuscripts for publication. Though I took part in a variety of projects that focused on communicable and non-communicable diseases I quickly realized that my passion leaned more towards 3 areas:  non-communicable diseases, research in marginalized communities and prevention.

In 2012, I joined the Non-Communicable Disease Research and Leadership Program to pursue my doctoral degree, under the supervision of Prof Stephen Tollman and Drs Jane Goudge and Melanie Bertram. My study is entitled, “Preventing cardiovascular disease in rural South Africa” and employs modelling techniques to simulate the incidence and progression of stroke within a rural South African population. The model allows analysts to estimate the costs and impacts of intervening at different stages of the disease pathway. The ultimate goal is to inform policy makers about the costs, effects and cost-effectiveness of prevention interventions and how they can be combined to efficiently prevent and reduce stroke risk factors in rural South Africa.

As an interdisciplinary programme, Wits Non-Communicable Diseases Leadership Program has exposed me to ideas from fields that I would rarely come in contact with and heightened my interest to cross-pollinate my area of health economics with other fields. The program has given me an opportunity to engage with highly experienced researchers within and outside my field. The “best oral presentation award” that I received at the Wits Research Day in September 2014 is testimony to the quality of the Wits NCD program. The programme has given me an opportunity to travel to the Centre of Health economics at York University and meet with many renowned researchers who have become my mentors.

Special achievements and awards that i have obtained while a part of the program include:

Best oral presentation in the Diseases of Lifestyle Category, Wits Research Day, September 2014.