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Building capacity to design and test nudges and other behavioural solutions to improve the effectiveness of health services and achieve better health outcomes in South Africa.


We are very excited to launch the ‘Indlela: Behavioural Insights for Better Health’ newsletter and introduce you to Indlela’s goals, progress, and the team. 

Our quarterly newsletter will share the latest news from Indlela as we build a community of practice around the use of behavioural economics and nudges to improve uptake and delivery of HIV prevention and treatment services in South Africa. We hope this newsletter is helpful for you - please do share any feedback or suggestions that you may have.

What is Indlela?

Indlela is a collaboration between the University of Witwatersrand’s Health Economics and Epidemiology Research Office (HE2RO) and the University of Pennsylvania Center for Health Incentives and Behavioural Economics (CHIBE). Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Indlela is a first-of-its-kind unit that seeks to build capacity of South African researchers and organizations that deliver health services to design and test behavioural interventions and nudges that can improve the effectiveness of the public sector in achieving better health outcomes. Indlela means “the way” or “the path” in Zulu.

In our first 3 years, Indlela will focus specifically on building capacity to expand the use of behavioural economics within HIV prevention and treatment programs in South Africa and strengthen the ability of health service delivery providers and key research institutions to develop and test contextually appropriate interventions that are informed by behavioural science principles. In future years, the unit’s scope will expand beyond HIV to include other pressing public health issues in South Africa.

Find more information about Indlela here.

Meet the Indlela Team

Our growing team is a blend of behavioural economists, behavioural scientists and epidemiologists. Stay tuned for more hiring updates soon.  

HE2RO: Jacqui Miot (Indlela Local Co-Investigator), Sophie Pascoe (Indlela Local Lead), Caroline Govathson (Indlela Associate), Lungisile Vezi (Indlela Coordinator)

UPenn CHIBE: Harsha Thirumurthy (Indlela Principal Investigator), Alison Buttenheim (Indlela Co-Investigator), Noora Marcus (Indlela Senior Program Manager), Laura Schmucker (Indlela Program Manager) 

University of Cape Town: Brendan Maughan-Brown (Indlela UCT Lead)

Boston University: Lawrence Long (Indlela BU Lead) 

What we've been up to

Indlela Webinar: Behavioral Economic Applications to HIV in South Africa 

On March 30th, Indlela hosted a webinar attended by nearly 40 participants from different research organisations across South Africa. The webinar replaced an in-person workshop that could not be held due to the COVID-19 lockdown. Here is the webinar presentation recording and the slide deck.

Webinar participants heard a 'Behavioral Economics 101' presentation as well as an overview of the NUDGE and EAST frameworks used to design behavioural interventions and some examples of successful nudges applied in the region. We will be organizing more events, including workshops and webinars that we will share within our quarterly newsletter.

Adapting Indlela to the COVID-19 Context

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted us to explore new ways of achieving Indlela’s core capacity-building objectives due to challenges with in-person workshops and engagements.

Importantly, as the COVID-19 response presents new barriers to HIV testing, linkage, and retention in care, there are many opportunities and a vital need to introduce patient- and provider-focused behavioural solutions and nudges that might help ensure better HIV outcomes in this context. 

We are planning additional webinars and will be engaging directly with interested researchers and organizations on the frontlines of delivering health services. If your organization is facing a specific challenge maintaining continuity of HIV care during COVID-19, please click here to tell us more or email us. 

Below, you can see several resources we developed for the COVID-19 response.

Behavioral interventions and nudges to support HIV care continuity during COVID-19: A guide for programs, policymakers and researchers 

Our team has prepared a guide that describes various nudges and low-cost interventions that can be used to address specific challenges faced by patients and providers during the COVID-19 crisis. Contact us at if your organization is interested in developing interventions that are tailored to a specific challenge or context.

Behavioral Science Tips for Physical Distancing

Indlela, ideas42, UPenn CHIBE and SALDRU collaborated to launch a series of tip sheets that support low & middle income country (LMIC) governments and communities in tackling the COVID19. This tip sheet helps governments craft physical distancing measures that are most effective & least disruptive.

Behavioral Science Tips for COVID-19 Communications 

This tip sheet focuses on effective communication by policymakers, funders and program staff that will help ensure that everyone understands and follows guidance necessary for COVID-19 mitigation. 

Recent research by Indlela team members

Bridging the Efficacy-Effectiveness Gap in HIV Programs: Lessons From Economics

A review of studies that have applied economics to HIV prevention and treatment by Harsha Thirumurthy from UPenn CHIBE and Jacob Bor from Boston University, published in JAIDS.

Commitment contracts to increase HIV retesting among high-risk persons in Uganda

This presentation at the virtual CROI 2020 shared results from a randomized trial of commitment contracts as well as financial incentives to promote HIV retesting in Uganda. The study was led by Harsha Thirumurthy from UPenn CHIBE and Gabriel Chamie from UCSF.

What we're reading, watching or listening to

Three lessons for the COVID-19 response from pandemic HIV by James Hargreaves and Calum Davey in The Lancet HIV

Responding to COVID-19 in the Developing World by Saugato Datta on The Behavioral Scientist 

Tell us more

We are eager to work with organizations and researchers interested in testing innovative behavioral solutions that will improve HIV outcomes in South Africa.  

What is the most significant challenge your organization is facing due to COVID-19 in your work in HIV service delivery? Click here to tell us more or email us to engage with our team. 

Interested in learning more?
Send us an email at:
Follow us on Twitter at: @Indlela_SA

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