Sumaiyah Docrat

MPH (Health Economics), PhD in progress

University of Cape Town

Supervisor: Prof Crick Lund

Co-supervisor: A/Prof Susan Cleary

Sumaiyah Docrat’s PhD research focuses on generating new knowledge on the economic costs, impacts and financing strategies for mental health in South Africa.  The focus of the work is to provide an understanding of the economic impact of inadequate mental health care in South Africa, the efficiency of existing mental health investments and inequities in resourcing and access.  Through this lens, and borrowing from the experiences of other low and middle income countries, recommendations for key priorities for health service and financing reforms towards the scaled-up delivery of mental health services in South Africa are generated. 

Thus far, Sumaiyah has published three of her PhD studies in peer-reviewed journals, with her final study just recently having been submitted for publication.  Of note, one of Sumaiyah’s PhD studies was commissioned by the National Department of Health – towards an understanding of the current expenditure on mental health in the country.  This study achieved one of the highest sample sizes of any costing study for mental health in the country.  The findings of this study were disseminated widely on World Mental Health Day 2019, shedding light on the current state of investment and elucidating where key improvements can be harnessed. 

Throughout her tenure as a PhD candidate, Sumaiyah has been fortunate to have presented findings at the House of Commons in the UK, and has now been included in the National Department of Health’s Mental Health Think Tank.  The results of the costing study have now led to the National Department of Health commissioning an investment case for mental health in the country which Sumaiyah is working on together with colleagues at the SA-MRC, and in collaboration with the National and Provincial Departments of Health.  Sumaiyah has also been featured on SABC newsroom, speaking to the lack of economic evidence to guide decision making for mental health in the country.