The Empilweni Services and Research Unit (ESRU), situated at Rahima Moosa Mother and Child Hospital in Johannesburg - South Africa, is comprised of a research clinic as well as a clinic offering routine services. ESRU is made up of +-30 research staff including academic, administrative and technical staff. ESRU has been functioning as a research entity for the last 13 years, and have produced over 140 publications. Whilst the unit started out with a focus on HIV it has increasingly acquired the skills and appetite for research in other areas such as Tuberculosis. The unit will actively encourage research into other childhood infectious diseases and infectious diseases in pregnant women. With the unit seeing itself as being the ‘home’ of the Paediatric Infectious Disease Sub-specialty Training programme within the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health at Wits, the future looks set to ensure that there is a natural convergence of training, service and research within the site.
Prof Ashraf Coovadia, director of ESRU is involved with provincial and national departments of health and have established campaigns and programs that resulted in improvements of government policies and procedures. He continues to serve as an advisor on the Paediatric Antiretroviral expert panel that assists the NDoH with developing and implementing paediatric treatment guidelines. He does this in his capacity as part of the steering committee of the Child and Adolescent Committee of the Southern African HIV Clinicians Society. He played and continue to play a key role in the revision process of the PMTCT policies and will remain a technical advisor to the NDoH on PMTCT and Paediatric HIV. He is also a member of the several different councils, committees and societies to be at the forefront of driving changes and improvement on policies for all HIV infected women and children.