Who We Are
The Southern Africa Medical Unit (SAMU) is the medical division of MSF South Africa. Our mission is to provide technical and implementation support to the various MSF HIV/TB/Integrated missions, focusing on innovative ideas and technologies that are feasible to implement. Although principally based in South Africa, some SAMU members perform frequent field support visits while being based elsewhere (Belgium, UK, Canada).
Tom Ellman is director of the Southern Africa Medical Unit (SAMU). Since first working for MSF in Rwanda in 1995, he has over 15 years of experience in humanitarian medical work mostly with Medecins Sans Frontieres. His focus has been on HIV, TB, and malaria in Africa and South-East Asia, apart from a three-year ‘break’ working on Chagas disease – the ‘AIDS of the Americas’ – in Bolivia.
Tom received his medical training in Edinburgh, has a Diploma from the School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (Liverpool), and a Masters in Communicable Disease Epidemiology from the School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (London). He is a member of the Royal College of Physicians, UK and a beekeeper.
Eric Goemaere is a medical doctor and economist by training. His career with MSF started in 1982, working in Chad and afterwards in several field MSF missions, with some ‘interruptions’ to be OCB’s medical director (1988 to 1991) and General Director (1994 to 1999).In 1999 Eric migrated to South Africa to pioneer MSF’s first public health ARV programme in Khayelitsha. Since then Eric has occupied numerous positions in running MSF’s projects in South Africa, finally joining SAMU in 2009 where he is currently the HIV/TB Unit Coordinator.
Eric has received an Honoris Causa doctorate from University of Cape Town (UCT) for his work in HIV, as well as being appointed honorary senior lecturer in the School of Public Health and Family Medicine. He is a member of the South African AIDS Council and on the WHO guidelines advisory board.
Dr Helen Bygrave
Helen Bygrave is originally from the UK and worked in London as a hospital and primary care physician for ten years. In 2001 she took off to Uganda where a medical wake up call awaited her in an HIV clinic in Kampala, managing patients in the days before antiretroviral therapy was available. Four years later she signed up with MSF and by chance ended up in an HIV project, this time in Lagos, Nigeria. After seeing the amazing ‘Lazarus effect’ of antiretrovirals that were then available in the MSF clinic, she was bitten by the MSF/HIV bug and continued to work in HIV/TB projects in Myanmar and Lesotho over the next four years.
In 2010 she joined the Southern Africa Medical Unit and now provides technical support for HIV/TB projects across Africa. Her particular areas of interest are PMTCT, the introduction of less toxic antiretroviral therapies in resource poor settings and the introduction of viral load monitoring.
Dr Dmytro Donchuk
Dmytro Donchuk joined MSF for the first time more than 10 years ago when he was still doing his medical training in infectious diseases; as a clinician he was in charge of care for the patients with HIV, tuberculosis and viral hepatitis in his home town of Odessa in Ukraine.
After several years break, during which he worked in a number of HIV/TB treatment programs in Russia, Dmytro returned to work in MSF field projects, to be confronted by the challenge of HIV/TB epidemics in Mozambique and Swaziland, and drug-resistant TB (DR-TB) and HIV in Kyrgyz prisons. In 2011 Dmytro joined SAMU where he currently supports a number of OCB HIV, TB and hepatitis projects in Eastern Europe, Asia, and West and North Africa.
Zibusiso holds a BSc. Hons. in Medical Laboratory sciences (University of Zimbabwe), MSc in Epidemiology and Biostatistics (University of Witwatersrand) and other qualifications in Project management and M&E. He has previously worked as a Medical laboratory scientist in public and private diagnostic laboratories, and has also practised as an Epidemiologist. As from Dec 2014, he joined MSF as the Research coordinator for the Zimbabwe project. Zee joined SAMU in January 2016 and provides support to MSF programme laboratories in the region.
In 2010, Peter found himself in the role of TB-HIV Advisor for SAMU, where he has enjoyed helping OCB projects in Africa and Asia to meet ‘unmet medical needs’ with an acceptable standard of care. He currently acts as Medical Editor for the SAMU website.
Jonathan Bernheimer is a paediatrician from the United States. He completed a residency in general paediatrics at Northwestern University and a fellowship in paediatric cardiology at Stanford University. Upon completing his fellowship, he changed course and decided to move to Africa. After additional training in tropical medicine in London, moved to Botswana where he worked with children with paediatric HIV and TB for about 2 years.
After further stints in London and then California where he worked as a general paediatrician in a city clinic, he joined MSF in Khayelitsha, South Africa in February 2013. His work at MSF has focused on addressing paediatric HIV treatment failure and increasing identification of children with HIV. In addition, he has a strong interest in medical education, and runs courses for local nurses and doctors, writes a regular newsletter entitled The Khayelitsha Paediatric Report, and hosts a monthly patient review meeting for medical officers working in Khayelitsha. He joined SAMU in January 2016 to continue work on enhancing and expanding paediatric HIV/TB education throughout Southern Africa.
Carol Metcalf is a medical epidemiologist from Cape Town, South Africa. She has a medical degree, Masters in Public Health and post-graduate diploma in international health research ethics. She has been doing HIV and TB-related public health research since 1987, and it has been the major focus of her work since 1997.
She joined MSF in September, 2010, taking up the position of Medical Epidemiologist. She serves as SAMU’s operational research focal point for HIV and TB projects in southern Africa. Prior to joining MSF she worked as a researcher for several different organisations including the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), Aurum Institute, and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). She has also served as a member of research ethics committees at the CDC and the HSRC.
Dr Ian Proodfoot
Clinical Training Coordinator
Ian Proudfoot is the Training Coordinator for SAMU. After graduating from the University of Cape Town in 1982, he spent over 20 years in general practice in Cape Town, during which time he specialised in family medicine. In 2007 the needs of the government sector started to beckon and within a few years he made a career shift into HIV medicine, moving to Mpumalanga in 2009 to work in an HIV/TB clinic.
Two years later, after completing the HIV management diploma, he moved back to Cape Town, joining MSF in their Khayelitsha project. There his passion for clinical education started to find expression, culminating in the move in July 2013 to his current post in SAMU.
Katherine’s first degree was in Biochemistry. After realizing she did not want to spend her life in a lab, she studied Nutrition and Epidemiology which gave her skills to work more directly with people. She first worked in Mali during the severe famine of the 1980’s where she met her husband, also working in the humanitarian field.
This was the beginning of a long adventure going from Mali to Chad and Cambodia for stays of several years in each country. She arrived in South Africa in 1999 and worked in Khayelitsha for 10 years, followed by the MSF coordination office in Cape Town and the Centre for Infectious Diseases and Epidemiological Research (CIDER) at the University of Cape Town.
HIV/TB Patient & Community Support Advisor
After getting a Masters in Educational Sciences/Psychology, Saar worked in her home country of Belgium in foster care and with disabled youth, before joining MSF in 2007.
She started off as Patient and Community Support Coordinator in Burkina Faso and Malawi and has ever since been unable to say goodbye to the HIV world, sharing her experience and providing support to all MSF-OCB HIV projects in Africa.
Tandi is proudly South African, based in Cape Town and working for SAMU as the Training Unit Administrator. She is one of the few red roses amongst the thorny men in her office. In addition to being responsible for administration in the SAMU office, she (mostly) foresees the smooth organising of the HIV/TB trainings that are held in Cape Town.
Tandi has a Marketing diploma which strengthens her organisational skills. She has chosen the route of law as a part time student with the dream of becoming a Humanitarian lawyer…….. and possibly eventually working in MSF projects.
Dr. Ousseni Tiemtore
Ousseni is a Burkinabe, i.e. a citizen of Burkina Faso. He graduated with a medical degree from the University of Ouagadougou and did a Masters in Public Health at the Royal Tropical Institute/Vrije University of Amsterdam. From 2000 he was part of a national NGO team focused on HIV/AIDS care for adults and children before the era of antiretroviral therapy. After working in public-private hospitals for some years, he worked at the national level as TB/HIV co-infection coordinator for the National TB and AIDS programs committee.
He has been working with MSF since 2005, first in Burkina Faso’s HIV project and then in Democratic Republic of Congo where he was the TB/HIV implementer supporting HIV/TB integrated projects for OCA, including implementation of a shortened regimen for multidrug-resistant (MDR) TB.
Ousseni joined SAMU in 2014, where he currently supports a number of projects having TB and HIV activities in Southern, Central and West Africa.
Dr Roger Teck
HIV Operational Regional Advisor, OCG
Roger Teck is Operational Regional Adviser for HIV in Southern Africa on behalf of MSF Operational Centre Geneva (OCG) and functionally integrated in the SAMU team. In the late eighties and the nineties, he worked in various humanitarian medical programmes (Ethiopia, Chad, Kenya, Somalia, South and North Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi and Chad). Since the late nineties he has focused more and more on developing HIV programs (Peru, Malawi, Cameroon, Swaziland).
He was Director of Operations for MSF Operational Centre Barcelona-Athens (OCBA) from 2007 till 2009. Roger did his medical training at the University of Leuven in Belgium, obtained a diploma in Tropical Medicine at the Tropical Institute of Antwerp and did a Postgraduate Masters Degree in “Public Health in Developing Countries” at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
HIV/TB Lab Implementation Officer
Maryam Rumaney is from Cape Town, South Africa. She holds a Bachelors degree in Human Life Sciences with four majors (Biochemistry, Genetics, Physiology and Microbiology) from Stellenbosch University (2010), in addition to a Bachelor of Honours degree in Human Genetics from the same institution (2011), where she worked on the genetics of prostate cancer, with specific reference to the role of Cox-2 in South African men of mixed ancestry.
She is currently in the final stages of her Master of Science degree in Human Genetics at the University of Cape Town, working on the genetics of the co-inheritance of sickle cell disease and alpha-thalassemia, within a Cameroonian context. She has been active volunteer for Operation Smile South Africa (OSSA) since 2009, and attended her first mission, as a student volunteer, in Madagascar in 2011.
Strategic Resources Manager
Robyn Mosdell is Strategic Resources Manager for SAMU, having an educational background in psychology and development. She has been employed in the South African NPO sector for over 20 years, focusing on a variety of different issues, including life skills education, counseling, financial oversight, operational and human resource (HR) management, and organisational development. Robyn’s experience has been gathered across South Africa, with stints in Johannesburg, Grahamstown, Worcester and Cape Town.
Robyn enjoys the beauty of the Western Cape, and tries to get out into the country whenever possible. The splendor of South Africa is never far from her mind and the development of both the country and the people have been motivating forces throughout her career.
Tinne Gils studied Pharmacy at the University of Leuven in Belgium and holds a postgraduate degree in Tropical Biomedical Sciences and International Health (Antwerp) and a Masters in International Humanitarian work (Aix-en-Provence). She discovered early that she did not feel comfortable working in retail pharmacies or the pharmaceutical industry in Europe. Instead she chose to learn about and help battle the challenges existing in developing countries in terms of access, quality and availability of medicines in developing countries.
She has been with MSF since 2011 when she began researching access to drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) medicines in South Africa. Her experience comes from HIV/TB projects in Lesotho, South Africa and Mozambique, plus one mission in a South Sudanese refugee camp. As part of the SAMU team, she is supporting activities to improve access to and availability of medicines in Southern Africa. She enjoys a regular mountain hike, a good live concert and morning espresso.
After her specialization in clinical psychology in France, Kleio Iakovidi joined MSF Greece for her first mission in a primary health care project for migrants and refugees. Over the last 10 years she has been traveling, volunteering and working in both East Africa and South East Asia, focusing mostly on psychosocial support for HIV and TB patients. She is most passionate about working with children and adolescents.
Kleio has also participated in emergency programs as a psychologist and project coordinator, related to an earthquake in Athens and a stampede in Phnom Penh. In addition to MSF, she has worked for local NGOs in countries where she lived in the past, as well as for the French Red Cross and for the IFRC reference center for psychosocial support in Copenhagen as technical advisor. Having just finished a one-year “working break” in Europe, she felt it was time to go back to the field to work on HIV and DR-TB issues.
Olivier joined MSF in 1995 on a first mission in Sierra Leone. Since then, he has worked in a variety of humanitarian programmes in places such as Liberia, Myanmar, South Sudan, Kosovo and others in roles including Field Coordinator and Head of Mission. He was also involved with the French NGO Action Contre la Faim (ACF).
Olivier left field work for the MSF Geneva head office to work as operational HR officer (3 years), then moved on to share his experiences with MSF field staff as training coordinator (4 years) where he focused mainly on operational management and human resources management trainings.
He has a Master’s degree in “International Humanitarian Assistance – Emergency / Rehabilitation” through AIX – MARSEILLE University of Rights and Political Sciences, as well as a Diploma of Advanced Studies in Adult Education and Training: Analysis, management and development through the Educational Sciences & Psychology University of GENEVA.
Emilie is an anthropologist currently working as a Qualitative Research Mobile Implementation Officer (MIO) with both LuxOR and SAMU. Her work involves conducting qualitative research for MSF, and offering support to other qualitative researchers in the region. Her research interests include HIV/AIDS, sex-work and migration, as well as the role of anthropology in humanitarian aid. She has worked in Sub-Saharan Africa for over a decade, and has carried out research studies in countries including South Africa, Kenya, Liberia, Senegal and Côte d’Ivoire.
Originally from the UK, Emilie moved to South Africa in 2009 upon completion of an MSc and PhD from the University of Edinburgh. She also holds an undergraduate degree in Social Anthropology from the University of Cambridge and an MSc Development Studies from SOAS, University of London.
Emilie has made Johannesburg home but still enjoys long road trips across South Africa, especially ones that involve hiking up mountains, running on beaches and drinking red wine.
Gilles Van Cutsem is a medical doctor, master in public health and epidemiologist with over 16 years’ experience with MSF in Africa. From 1998 to 2000 he treated patients in war contexts in South Sudan and Angola, and in 2001 as an emergency doctor in Belgium. For the next 15 years he has worked in the field of HIV and TB, in Mozambique, Angola, and South Africa, as a clinician, researcher, coordinator of the Khayelitsha project, and from 2010 to 2016 as the medical coordinator for South Africa and Lesotho, with an interruption in November-December 2014 as the emergency medical coordinator for MSF’s Ebola intervention in Liberia. He has served as vice-president on the board of MSF-South Africa and on the national council of the Treatment Action Campaign, and is an honorary research associate at the Centre for Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Research of the University of Cape Town. He joined SAMU on the 1st of April 2016 to provide support to MSF HIV/TB projects. Besides humanitarian aid he loves his two daughters, surfing and Spinoza.