Strategic Plan

For the Fiscal Years 2020/21 - 2024/25

The South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) provides leadership to medical research in South Africa. The country’s health is a significant part of economic development: healthy populations live longer; and are more productive. There are many factors that impact on population health, with South Africa facing a quadruple burden of disease: ranging from stagnating mortality in pregnant women and infants to increasing morbidity and mortality associated with non-communicable diseases such as diabetes mellitus and hypertensive heart disease, as well as the epidemics of TB and HIV, that overwhelm our health system.

As the country’s Council conducting and funding health research, innovation and development, the SAMRC is posed to decrease the disease burden in South Africa. The Strategic Plan 2020/21 – 2024/25 reinforces our research efforts across five strategic pillars: (1) The administration of health research in an effective and efficient manner; (2) The generation of new knowledge and its translation into policy and practice; (3) Supporting innovation and technology transfer to improve health; (4) Building sustainable health research capacity in South Africa; and (5) Research translation.

Driven by the five key strategic pillars, the SAMRC has pioneered cutting-edge medical innovations, the development of novel treatment regimens, vaccine development, diagnostic tools, new drugs and devices, aimed at the improvement of the health status of people in South Africa.

The Strategic Plan 2020/21 – 2024/25 serves as our guide to deliver on quality research, high impact science and to ensure that medical science flourishes. With strategic direction from the SAMRC Board, the SAMRC is set to strengthen all components of our research endeavour.

The Strategic Plan 2020/21 – 2024/25 also confirms our focus to fund research based on local development priorities, while ensuring that our research is globally relevant. Through Self- Initiated Research grants, the largest set of grant awards, where approximately 45 new three- year awards are made annually, we aim to develop scientific capacity and transformation of the pipeline of researchers. Through the Mid-Career Scientist Programme, we aim to create a new generation of science leaders.

Transformation in science remains an integral part of our strategy, we have over the past five years increased the number of masters and doctoral students supported through our programmes, while developing a cohort of interns and clinicians, which includes the Bongani Mayosi National Health Scholars Programme (NHSP), an ambitious public-private partnership.

The Bongani Mayosi NHSP is a flagship PhD development programme and a national initiative to advance the next generation of African health and clinical scientists. The Programme is funded by the Public Health Enhancement Fund (PHEF), the PHEF is a non-profit entity to leverage and contribute to strengthening the health sector, which will lead to a stronger relationship between public and private sectors to the benefit of all our people. The Bongani Mayosi NHSP has already produced 47 graduates (87% of which are PhDs) in various health professions.

Through a tight fiscal environment, the SAMRC has delivered on impactful science and will continue to do so effectively and efficiently, as guided by the Public Finance and Management Act (PFMA). As we implement the new Strategic Plan, we will ensure that our budget is spent on funding science and innovation and less on administrative costs.

Partnerships across frontiers, North-South, South-East, South-South, remain critical in furthering our mission as we rollout the Strategic Plan. Among key collaborations is the first Genomics Sequencing Facility on African soil. Part of our agreement with the Beijing Genomics Institute is to create a national asset to contribute to the better understanding of genetics and disease and enabling the SAMRC to harness the science of genomics for personalised medicine.

Our steadfast focus on key strategic pillars guides our teams of scientists and support staff to help us in enabling the Department of Health, to deliver on their commitment and promise of a long and healthy life for all South Africans.

View the complete Strategic Plan