Staff Profiles

Dr Arthi Ramkissoon MSc (MedSc) PhD MBA
Divisional Head

Dr Arthi Ramkissoon is a public health specialist and has more than 20 years of experience in implementation of HIV treatment, care and prevention programmes in the  public sector, where she has worked in diverse areas including, implementation of antiretroviral treatment and medical male circumcision programmes, health system interventions, programme support and vaccine clinical trials. She leads MatCH’s United States Presidential Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) programme, funded through United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The programme supports the Department of Health in KwaZulu-Natal.



Professor Jennifer Smit BPharm MSc PhD   
Deputy Divisional Head

Professor Jenni Smit is an internationally renowned researcher in the area of HIV prevention and reproductive health. She leads the MatCH research programme with an emphasis on HIV prevention technologies, including female condoms, medical male circumcision, microbicides, dual protection, hormonal contraception, emergency contraception and RH/HIV service integration. She also provides technical support to MatCH’s health systems strengthening activities, especially in regard to HIV prevention, treatment and care.  She holds honorary appointments as Research Fellow at the School of Development Studies, and as Honorary Professor in the School of Pharmacy and Pharmacology at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.




Professor Hoosen Coovadia MBBS FCP MSc MD  
Professor Hoosen “Jerry” Coovadia is an internationally renowned and leading South African researcher in maternal and child health and has led ground-breaking research in mother-to-child transmission of HIV. He leads a programme of research on maternal, new born and child health, focusing on implementation of prevention of HIV transmission from mothers to their infants, maternal health and postnatal care of infants, integration of health delivery services and contributes to national and global policies on the delivery of effective child health services. He holds the positions of Emeritus Professor of Paediatrics and Child Health and Emeritus Victor Daitz Professor of HIV/AIDS Research, at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and is Associate Scientific Director at CAPRISA.




Zonke Mabude BCurr MA PhD Candidate
Zonke Mabude has over 25 years of experience as a nurse educator and researcher. Over the last 7 years she has developed a research agenda related to care and support services for orphans and vulnerable children in KwaZulu-Natal, complemented by supporting service delivery through a provincial task team that aims to improve access to these services. Other areas of research include microbicides and barrier methods. She works closely with the National Department of Health and Provincial Department of Welfare and Social Development providing technical support and training for HIV prevention activities.




Catherine Searle MA
Operations and Development Director  

Catherine Searle has over ten years of experience in the field of public health and in non-profit organisations, focusing on sexual and reproductive health. She supports MatCH’s PEPFAR programme including grants management and programme implementation with a focus on the integration of HIV and broader health services and monitoring and evaluation of health data.




Melanie Drace MPH
Operations and Development Director

Melanie Drace has extensive experience in managing large health related research programmes in sub-Saharan Africa and ensuring collaboration between project and operational aspects in the implementation of programmes and research protocols.  She plays a key liaison role with a range of existing donors and directs MatCH’s organizational, grant and project management for a range of programmatic and research activities.





Dr Mags Beksinska MSc PhD
Technical Advisor - London Office
Mags Beksinska was the Founder and the Director of RHRU’s Durban office between 1998 and 2007. She has a particular interest in hormonal contraception and bone mineral density and in barrier methods with a focus on female condoms. Based in the UK and travelling to South Africa several times a year, she supports programme and research projects as well as the development of international standards and guidelines on female condoms.




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