Infectious diseases


Prof Natalie Schellack

Antimicrobial stewardship is crucial in South Africa and across Africa due to the high burden of
infectious diseases and the increasing threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). According to a point
prevalence study conducted by Prof Schellack and her team, 33.5% of patients in South African
public sector healthcare facilities were on antimicrobials, with higher rates of utilization in district
and regional hospitals.

While these rates are lower than in other African countries, there is still room for improvement in
prescribing practices. The study also showed that conducting point prevalence surveys using mobile
health (mHealth) techniques is feasible and can aid in identifying targets for quality improvement
programs. The need for research in antimicrobial stewardship can provide valuable insights for
clinical practice and public health strategies, including the appropriate use of last-resort antibiotics
and the investigation of behavioural challenges that contribute to AMR, such as language barriers
and over-the-counter use of antimicrobials.

African countries are facing similar challenges, this includes investigation into the kinetics and
dynamics to guide dosing with antibiotics. It is thus evident that further research in collaboration
with national and international teams is needed. The following key areas are focus areas for the
research team, the appropriate use of last-resort antibiotics, such as colistin, and the investigation of
behavioural challenges contributing to AMR, including language barriers and over-the-counter use of
antimicrobials, presents critical avenues for continued investigation. Additionally, examining the
kinetics and dynamics used to guide dosing with aminoglycosides, highlights the importance of
ongoing research in this area. Furthermore, in line with the ENAABLERS project, aimed at improving
the rational use of antimicrobials and vaccines in South Africa to address AMR, underscores the need
for continued research to support the development and implementation of effective antimicrobial
stewardship programs.


International – Prof D Goff (Clinical Pharmacy, Ohio States University; United States of
America); Prof B Godman (University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, United Kingdom)

National - Prof JC Meyer (Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University; South Africa); Prof E
Bronkhorst (Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University).

Applicable research levels: MSc or PhD level

Minimum skillsets at MSc and PhD levels: Students should possess a strong foundation in a clinical
health-related field, infectious diseases, and antimicrobial stewardship. They should have a good
understanding of research methodologies, including data collection, analysis, and interpretation. As
Prof Schellack's research projects have involved the use of web-based applications, mobile health
techniques, and point prevalence studies to collect data on antimicrobial consumption and
prescribing practices. Therefore, students should have experience in using technology for data
collection and analysis. Additionally, students should have excellent communication and
interpersonal skills, as they will be working with multidisciplinary teams and interacting with patients
and healthcare professionals.

Students: Thiane Jansen van Nieuwenhuizen (MSc candidate); Lize Visser (MSc candidate); Isabella
Savides (MSc candidate); Shikaara Singh (MSc candidate); Mokesh Matevula (PhD candidate), Dr
Jessica Hamuy Blanco (PhD candidate), Nishana Ramdas (PhD candidate)

Resources: Google Scholar publication list and Research Gate profile


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