Research Overview

Situated in resource-poor rural environments, the MRC/Wits-Agincourt Unit undertakes community-oriented research to elucidate causal pathways, test interventions across the life-course, inform health and social systems, and strengthen evidence to guide policy and programmes.

Broadly, all Unit research addresses four fundamental questions:

  • The unpredictability and pace of evolving health, population and social transitions
  • The interacting social and biological determinants and consequences – highlighting vulnerability and resilience – at key stages along the life course
  • When, where and how to intervene most effectively
  • The implications for health and social sector responses in order to achieve a more equitable and socially and economically productive society.

Framework highlighting key research areas of the MRC/Wits-Agincourt Unit

Framework highlighting key research areas of the MRC/Wits-Agincourt Unit

Health & Social Systems
The dynamics of health transition are reflected in the burdens affecting rural adults. Studies are occurring in epidemiology and treatment of epilepsy as well as the health and wellbeing of ageing populations.
Theme Leader:
Steve Tollman
Overview
Adolescent Health & Development
In rural South Africa morbidity, mortality and growth failure associated with malnutrition exist alongside female obesity and emerging cardiovascular disease. By tackling proximal issues of infant growth and nutrition, and social and emotional development in children, we aim to impact more distal outcomes including cognitive development, educational attainment, and adult metabolic disease.
Theme Leaders:
Kathy Kahn and Shane Norris
Overview
Research & Evaluation Platform – Trends and Transitions
This theme seeks to understand dynamics of demographic and epidemiological change in rural populations undergoing rapid and multiple transitions, and to identify the forces driving that change.
Theme Leader:
Mark Collinson
Overview
Adult Health & Wellbeing
The Agincourt Unit is examining the immediate and longer term impacts of HIV/AIDS and antiretroviral therapy roll-out. This work will support provincial and national efforts and provide evidence on delivery models, coverage and individual and population impacts of ARTs, as well as efforts to improve chronic disease treatment.
Theme Leaders:
Steve Tollman
F. Xavier Gómez-Olivé
Overview

Source: L Hunter

Social & Environmental Determinants
Rural households remain under pressure. Sudden shocks, whether job loss or death of a breadwinner, can destabilise households; similarly, protracted stresses such as drought or chronic illness can undermine coping capacity and livelihoods. Key to understanding how to improve health and social development is to examine the strategies employed by households to gain livelihoods and cope with shocks and stresses.
Theme Leaders:
Mark Collinson
Overview