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Emory Global Health Institute Advisory Board

Olive Shisana, MA, ScD

olive shisana insetDr. Shisana is CEO of the South African Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC). She is the first woman and the first black person to be appointed to this position. Dr. Shisana is a public health professional with extensive research, management, and policy development experience that spans nearly 25 years.

Before accepting the position as CEO, she served as Executive Director of Social Aspects of HIV/AIDS and Health (SAHA) at the HSRC, where she headed a national program and Africa-wide network on the Social Aspects of HIV/AIDS and Health Research Alliance (SAHARA). She also served as Professor and Head of the Department of Health Systems Management and Policy at the Medical University of Southern Africa.

Dr. Shisana has global health experience that she obtained while serving the World Health Organization's Family and Community Health Office, HIV/AIDS, reproductive health, women's health, and child and youth development programs. At a national level, Dr. Shisana served as director general of the South African Department of Health and was the first woman to lead the post apartheid national health system. She has previously served as a specialist scientist at the South African Medical Research Council.

Dr. Shisana was instrumental in the establishment of the School of Public Health at the University of the Western Cape, which has been in operation since 1993. She also served as the chief statistical advisor to the District of Columbia and was responsible for public health, mental health, and social services research. She has addressed numerous global and international meetings such as the 49th World Health Assembly, where she chaired one of the committees, the 4th International Conference on Health Promotion, the Development Committee of the European Union Parliament, the Commitee for Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly in the follow-up to the World Summit for Children, and a meeting of the US Congressional Brain Trust, where she spoke on HIV/AIDS.

Dr. Shisana has been the principal investigator and main author of several reports emanating from large studies, and has written numerous chapters in books and articles in scientific journals. The studies conducted are social epidemiological in nature covering areas such as HIV prevalence, incidence, social determinants, as well as research on national health insurance. She obtained her Doctor of Science degree in behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health, an institution that admitted her to its Society of Scholars, an honor given to graduates who have made significant contributions to public health. She is also a founding member of the South African Academy of Sciences. She served as a head of a national task team on the development of a policy and plan for National Health Insurance for South Africa from June 2008 to June 2009.

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