Husband-and-wife academics Professor Aubrey Sheiham and Dr Helena Sheiham have made an R8.8 million donation to their alma mater Wits University to address inequality in South Africa in support of vice-chancellor Professor Adam Habib’s major project.
The donation will assist research efforts that attempt to understand the political forces and social conditions that allow inequality to grow. Specifically, it will support the university’s school of public health in investigating the social determinants of health inequalities.
The Sheihams have also bequeathed a sum in their wills to continue the work of the Sheiham Family Wits Programme on Social Determinants of Health and Health Inequality in the future.
South Africa remains one of the most unequal societies worldwide, with the largest burden of ill health among rural black communities.
Initial funding will be used to enhance the teaching and research skills and capacity of Wits academics and assist in formulating policies going forward. The fund will also support doctoral students in advanced and social epidemiology and biostatistics.
The programme will also build the university’s links with other universities on the continent, the Institute of Health Equity and the University College London.