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Our History

Our History


  • April 1992 – HST is registered as a Tr​ust and three staff members are employed.

  • Our Mission Statement and Deed of Trust are established.

  • Founding Trust​​ees are: Christopher Garbers, David Power, Rachel Gumbi, Jocelyne Kane-Berman, Jairam Reddy (Chair), Olive Shisana, Nicky Padayachee, Nkosazana Zuma, Wiseman Nkuhlu

  • HST holds 10 regional consultative workshops over a three-month period aimed at shaping and refining its research programme within the brief described by the mission statement.

  • Funding is provided by the Kaiser Family Foundation, Kagiso Trust and the National Department of Health of South Africa.



  • April 1993 – Health Systems Trust is officially launched.

  • David Harrison is the Executive Director; Jaraim Reddy is the Chairperson of the Board of Trustees.

  • HST now has 12 Trustees.

  • HST funds 25 health systems research projects to the value of R4.5million.



  • HealthLink is established as a pilot project in three provinces.

  • The first HST Update is published in November.

  • HST attracts support from several other funders.

  • The research projects supported by HST provide an opportunity for researchers to contribute significantly to health system reform, following the election of a democratic government.



  • The first South African Health Review is published and launched, described by the media as "the first of what is expected to become the standard annual reference work on the health sector".

  • An assessment on HST research and skills development programmes shows that HST supported research had significant impact on health policy.



  • David Mametja is appointed as Executive Director.

  • The Initiative for Sub-District Support (ISDS) is established.

  • The HST and HealthLink websites are launched and the first HealthLink News issue is published.

  • The Reproductive Health Research Fund is launched.



  • HST conducts an internal strategic review and planning exercise to review and refocus the organisation.

  • HealthLink launches e-mail discussion lists, participates in the Second World Rural Health Congress held in Durban and provides up-to-date information to web browsers around the world.



  • Jaraim Reddy and the original founding Trustees retire from the Board, having served the maximum six-year term in office and a new Board of Trustees, headed by Marian Jacobs as Chairperson, is appointed.

  • The ISDS programme expands dramatically to 18 facilitators working in 21 districts.

  • The Equity Gauge is developed.

  • HST's programmes are repositioned to add more value to the work being done by various stakeholders in an effort to improve the health system.



  • The District Health Systems Conference is held with the National Department of Health.

  • An external review of the ISDS is carried out. The report findings are that ISDS has made a significant and positive contribution to DHS development within South Africa.

  • A National Nursing Summit, held in partnership with the National Department of Health and the South African Nursing Council, hosts 178 delegates.



  • Dr Zola Njongwe assumes the role of Chairperson from Marian Jacobs.

  • The HST website receives first prize in the Sciences category and fifth prize in the Community Development category from the UNESCO-funded WoYaa! awards.

  • The Global Equity Gauge Alliance (GEGA) is established with the Secretariat and Chair housed within HST.

  • loveLife is launched and HST takes fiduciary responsibility for the new programme.



  • Dr Lillian Dudley is appointed as HST's Managing Director.

  • The Research Programme establishes several new in-house projects, namely PMTCT, STI Initiative, Mapping HIV Resources, and Devolution and Decentralisation projects.

  • The Initiative for Sub-District Support (ISDS) sees the inclusion of the Male Sexuality and Reproductive Health projects, the EU Tender (worth R14.5 million), as well as the INP project.

  • HST employs 75 staff and administers approximately 100 grants.



  • HST and the National Department of Health jointly organise the National HIV/AIDS Scientific Forum in August.

  • HST continues to provide support and capacity building to members to parliament.

  • HST forms partnerships with civil society organisations working in health and welfare.

  • HST hosts a delegation from the Zambian Equity Gauge.



  • HST and the Public Health Association of South Africa (PHASA) co-host the 2003 Public Health Conference.

  • The eighth edition of the South African Health Review is launched in March.

  • HST provides input to the National Health Bill processes through its submissions and hosting workshops for parliamentarians on the Bill.

  • HST conducts a strategic review to set its direction for the next decade.

  • Mr Patrick Masobe assumes role of Chairperson from Dr Zola Njongwe.



  • The South African Health Review 2004 provides a 10-year perspective on progress in the health system.

  • The National Primary Health Care Facility Survey for 2003 is published.

  • Integrated Nutrition Project wins the Impumelelo Award in recognition for its contribution for improving the health status of communities through the household food security programme.

  • HST's trusteeship of loveLife ends in December.



  • Dr Lilian Dudley is appointed as HST's Chief Executive Officer in March.

  • HST senior managers "take HST to the people" and conduct a provincial road-show.

  • HST extends its regional activities in southern Africa with the SADC Project on Sexually Transmitted Infections in selected cross-border high-transmission sites in Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland.

  • HST participates in the African Regional Platform on Human Resources for Health in Abuja and in Brazzaville.

  • The National Department of Health awards HST a contract to review and strengthen the National Health Information Systems.

  • The South African Health Review 2005 focuses on human resources for health.



  • HST's strategy is revised to focus on: key content areas of governance of the health system; assessing and strengthening management systems; supporting the Primary Health Care approach to public health; and expanding research and support into priority programme areas.

  • HST's research and projects address global health priorities and achieve global goals, and in particular, the Millennium Development Goals.

  • The South African Human Rights Commission finds that South Africa has not yet attained the "right to health" enshrined by its Constitution.

  • The South African Health Review 2006 focuses on Maternal, Child and Women's Health.



  • Ms Jeanette Hunter is elected as Chairperson of the Board of Trustees.

  • Dr Thobile Mbengashe is appointed as Chief Executive Officer.

  • In celebration of the15th anniversary of its formation, HST presents its showcase conference, "Strengthening Health Systems in southern Africa: 1992-2007' in October.

  • Health-e News becomes an independent organisation.

  • The District Health Barometer 2006/2007 is published.

  • The South African Health Review 2007 focuses on the role of the private sector as part of the health system.

  • HST employs 111 staff members.



  • Dr Seadimo Chaba is elected as Chairperson of the Board of Trustees.

  • Ms Jeanette Hunter is appointed as Chief Executive Officer.

  • The South African Health Review 2008 focuses on Primary Health Care in South Africa: A review of 30 years since Alma Ata.

  • The District Health Barometer 2007/2008 is launched at a gala function attended by over 200 people.

  • A three-year HISDC project commences with the target of training 3 050 data capturers.

  • HST has a complement of 79 employees.



  • Prof. Welile Shasha is elected as Chairman of the Board of Trustees

  • HST enters into a four-year project with international partners to strengthen health systems in the Kingdom of Lesotho.

  • The fifth edition of the District Health Barometer is published in electronic format.



  • The 14th edition of the South African Health Review is themed "Reflections on MDGs and Perspectives of the National Health Insurance".

  • HST is contracted as lead partner in the National Facilities Audit project.

  • A new interim structure comprising two directorates (Programmes and Corporate Services) is adopted and implemented.



  • The 15th edition of the South African Health Review focuses on a variety of basic health system building blocks from the perspective of the Negotiated Service Delivery Agreement and primary health care (PHC) re-engineering. The publication also assesses South Africa's progress in transforming its health system since 1994.

  • HST receives funding from PEPFAR through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to strengthen local capacity to provide sustainable HIV-related care and treatment services in South Africa through the SA SURE project, scheduled to run from October 2011 to September 2016.



  • HST celebrates its 20th anniversary.


  • Dr Themba Moeti is appointed as Chief Executive Officer of HST.

  • HST establishes a Corporate Communications Unit to provide professional capacity for its raft of publications and other knowledge-brokering activities.

  • The 16th edition of the South African Health Review focuses on several key building blocks of the health system: financing, governance and leadership, medical products and service delivery.

  • The Emerging Public Health Practitioner Award is launched with the aim of giving a voice to public health professionals under the age of 35.

  • Together with leading HIV/AIDS researchers in Durban, HST participates in a joint World AIDS Day event entitled "Putting the 'I' back into HIV – new approaches in developing person-centred interventions to fight the epidemic".

  • HST has 188 employees by the end of the year.



  • Former HST Board Chairperson Dr Zola Njongwe passes away.

  • The 17th edition of the South African Health Review suggests that South Africa's public health system is gaining momentum away from pure discourse into action to bridge the gaps between policy and implementation.

  • Training begins on the National Health Research Database a searchable, electronic repository of health research studies conducted in South Africa.

  • The HST Board approves the 2015–2017 Strategic Plan in October 2014.

  • HST co-hosts a panel discussion to commemorate World AIDS Day 2014 at the University of KwaZulu-Natal under the theme "Women, girls and HIV – 10 years on".

  • HST has 403 employees by the end of the year.​


  • HST embarks on a new strategic plan, 2015-2017. 
  • HST unveils its new vision - Health for all through strengthened health systems - and states its mission to be a partner of choice in building comprehensive and equitable health systems.
  • HST transitions its HIV/AIDS health systems support to focus on high-burden districts in line with the 90-90-90 targets and PEPFARs Focusing for Impact Strategy
  • The Central Chronic Medicines Dispensing and Distribution Programme reaches over 200 000 patients. 
  • Access to HIV counselling and testing services are expanded through the engagement of private medical practitioners and non-public sector providers in the Northern Cape and Limpopo Provinces enabled by a new grant from the German Development Bank (KfW), through the Development Bank of Southern Africa.
  • Rationalised registers at primary health care facilities are scaled up nationally.
  • HST authors contribute to the book, The South African Health Reforms 2009-2014: Moving towards universal coverage
  • Board member, Ms Gcwalisile Twala, retires from the Board of Trustees