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Hillbrow | Atteridgeville | Melusi

About the Gauteng Research Triangle

The health and demographic surveillance national research infrastructure will be a distributed platform of HDSS nodes. Our argument is that to try and incorporate at least some of Gauteng’s urban complexity, the Gauteng node should be distributed across a manageable number of sites, as it slots into the national system. To quote SAPRIN, “The HDSS is a standardised, field-based information system and research platform … that will … routinely and continuously collect and assess … vital events, e.g. births and deaths (by cause), residence status and migration, household dynamics, socio-economic status, disease monitoring, labour and employment status, education status and social protection.” From the White Paper, through the Roadmap to the SAPRIN call for applications, the intention seems clearly to embed an understanding of vital events and statistics in an understanding of broader socio-economic, demographic and other social processes. Multidisciplinarity is often very challenging to realise after the fact, such as where a node is designed, set up and run purely as a health intervention. The gist of this proposal is that we are building multidisciplinarity into the design with the explicit intention of seeking to capture complexity via multi- and/or transdisciplinary teams working at nodal level.

In the work of all partners in this proposal, data are not an end in themselves, nor are academic outputs, important as they are. The work all partners do is aimed ‘upwards’ at policy-makers, to try and provide evidence to better inform, evaluate or evolve policy. This is as true of the Family Medicine Unit at UP as of WHRI in Hillbrow, the largest testing centre in the southern hemisphere.

Our real focus is ‘downwards’, to the communities with which we work, and by extension, to similar communities elsewhere. Whether this is by testing vaccines or the development of community oriented primary care, the focus remains on serving the needs of poorer communities, to improve their health status. They remain the real focus and partner in this endeavour.

The combined experience and commitment in this team is formidable, as is our commitment to changing the Gauteng space to improve the lives of the poor. It is in this spirit that we submit our proposal to SAPRIN.

Geographic Area

The Gauteng Research Triangle proposes a dispersed node comprising two main sites – Hillbrow (50 000 in the selected Small Area Layers), Atteridgeville (30 000 within selected SALs), and near to Atteridgeville is Melusi (20 000), a slowly formalising informal area.

Sites and nodes

The heart of our proposal is the dispersal of the node across three very different urban forms – inner city, established township and informal (but slowly formalising) settlement.

The rationale

The SAPRIN focus on long-term surveillance using high quality data to better understand health outcomes for the poor, as well as migratory patterns and their impact, is at the heart of this proposal.

Policy imperatives

Interdisciplinary research teams, and the integration of knowledge from different disciplines, as well as from users, are necessary to deal with complex problems. Increasingly scholars and policy makers are viewing such approaches as “science for the future”, and as an opportunity to strengthen the relationship between science and society by putting social concerns at the core of scientific research.

Data, other data, and SAPRIN

It is worth noting that the Gauteng City-Region Observatory (GCRO) has generated fascinating insights into the province – now taken as synonymous with the city-region. Moreover, the ‘Quality of Life’ survey series has created an invaluable longitudinal dataset, which includes important data on health, including mental health (alienation, anomie and a ‘marginalisation’ index), poverty, social attitudes (social capital, xenophobia, attitudes to gender-based violence and so on).

Community Engagement

Community engagement in UP – Melusi / Atteridgeville and WRHI – Hillbrow

22 June 2022

GRT-Inspired consist of 3 partners University of Witwatersrand, University of Johannesburg and University of Pretoria. The research communities are Hillbrow, Atteridgeville and Melusi.

Covid Sampling

24 April 2021

24th April 2021 was an exciting day for all teams as GRT-INSPIRED became a live project. Fieldworkers took to the field, signalling our first step outside of planning rooms and Covid lockdowns.