National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF)

Professor Steve Tollman

Director of Wits University’s Health Systems Development Unit


NSTF Management Award winner Prof Stephen Tollman, He has been at the forefront of harnessing inter-disciplinary science to guide policy towards sustainable health and development in a challenging environment in rural Mpumalanga.

In this day and age, not many people can say they have devoted almost three decades of their life to a particular project or cause. Then again, Professor Steve Tollman is no ordinary man. Since taking over as the director of Wits University’s Health Systems Development Unit in 1990, he has worked tirelessly to establish a high-functioning platform and data infrastructure to conduct research into the health and wellbeing of rural populations in South Africa.

“Tackling health and development effectively is critical to the livelihoods of rural South Africans,” explains Tollman. “They carry the greatest burden of illness, which undermines their personal development and economic and social productivity.

“The grand challenge is bridging this massive evidence gap to inform policy development and innovation, and assess its resulting impact.”

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