WE ARE MRC/Wits-Agincourt unit

The Agincourt Health and Socio-Demographic Surveillance System (HDSS), located in rural northeast South Africa close to the Mozambique border, provides the foundation for the Rural Public Health and Health Transitions Research Unit of the Medical Research Council (MRC) and University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa (the MRC/Wits-Agincourt Unit). Its origins lie in the university’s ‘Health Systems Development Unit’ that in the early 1990s focused on district health systems development, sub-district health centre networks and referral systems and training of clinically oriented primary health care nurses.

The Agincourt HDSS was a founding member of the International Network for the Demographic Evaluation of Populations and Their Health (INDEPTH) (http://www.indepth-network.org/) and provides leadership to INDEPTH multi-centre initiatives in adult health and ageing3 and migration and health

Location of Agincourt HDSS research site in South Africa

Agincourt  Health and Socio-Demographic Surveillance System (Agincourt HDSS)
The Agincourt Health and Socio-Demographic Surveillance System (HDSS) provides the foundation for the MRC/Wits-Agincourt Unit.  An HDSS is a longitudinal population registration system that monitors demographic dynamics in a geographically defined population.


An HDSS monitors how a population changes in a geographically defined area




In partnership with host communities and local institutions, to better understand and respond to the dynamics of health, population and social transitions in rural South and southern Africa, in order to mount a more effective public health, public sector and social response and thereby inform national, regional and global policy.


Research seeks local and national relevance and impact, while interacting with and contributing to important regional and global questions. Influencing our priorities and the conduct of research are long-standing, respectful relationships with local communities; a future-oriented longitudinal perspective; and empirical findings that capture changing health and social dynamics


Our  approach is to build the research pipline from Masters to PHD students with intern opportunities feeding into this, then to host postdoctoral fellows and mentor young to mid-career scientists.