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The Africa Unit for Transdisciplinary Health Research, North West University, South Africa (AUTHeR).

The Oxford Institute of Population Ageing at the University of Oxford was established in 1998 with funding from the National Institute on Aging, achieving Institute status in 2001.  Our aim is to undertake research into the implications of population change. We are a multi-disciplinary group with demography as our main disciplinary focus.

The Africa Unit for Transdisciplinary Health Research (AUTHeR) at the North West University (Potchefstroom Campus) is part of the Faculty of Health Sciences.  The Faculty aims to contribute to the promotion and improvement of the health of the population of South Africa and Africa by means of high-quality, relevant educational and research programmes.  Research within AUTHeR (Africa Unit for Transdisciplinary Health Research) focuses on transdisciplinary health promotion centred within the Social Sciences.

Like the North West University itself who came into being in 2004 through the merger of two universities with very different histories, personalities and cultures, AUTHeR also exemplifies a highly innovative approach.  Research undertaken within the unit approaches health holistically taking cognisance of the physical, mental, social and contextual dimensions and conceptualizes health on a continuum from pathology to thriving. This position together with the integration between different disciplines make it unique.

It is therefore, a partnership which will build on these existing strengths and together create opportunities for even greater success for both institutions.
Over the past two years a capacity building programme has been developed with the Rector (Professor Annette Combrink) of North West University.  We have already had three successful internships at the Oxford Institute of Population Ageing which included:  Pieter Greef (2009);  Ina Maria Du Toit (2010) and Lelanie Kriek (2011). In addition, Professor Vera Roos has been a longstanding AFRAN member and as such been involved in numerous programmes and projects at the Institute.
To recognise this ongoing relationship and develop it further to benefit both institutions, a three year co-operation agreement has been established which will include promotion of such activities as:

  •  Academic exchanges

  •  Joint research activities, such as seminars, conferences and public lectures
  •  Exchange of publications, academic materials and other information
  •  Assistance in capacity building at North-West University & by North-West University to the Institute’s  AFRAN network and African research  programme
  •  Such other projects for mutual benefit that are agreed upon by both parties

Key to this initiative is the appointment of the NWU link of Prof Vera Roos to the position of Professorial Research Affiliate at the Oxford Institute of Population Ageing. Representing the Oxford Institute of Population Ageing will be Professor Sarah Harper.

We look forward to a continuation of this fruitful relationship and an even greater expansion of activities which will mutually benefit both institutions.