College of Law and Management Studies

Programme Leader at UKZN’s Health Economics and HIV/AIDS Research Division (HEARD), Dr Gavin George has been appointed by the World Health Organization (WHO) to serve on the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) on Behavioural Insights and Health Sciences for Health.

WHO has committed to a transformation process aimed at promoting health, safeguarding the world and serving those in need. As part of this process, the WHO will seek to explore and understand the many factors affecting human behaviours and practices for the success of health policies and programmes aimed at helping people and communities live healthier lives.

TAG will provide expert advice on: the development of a roadmap for behavioural perspectives, the in-house capacity required to provide technical assistance; and a strategic roadmap for the pilot period of the initiative.

TAG has 22 members from a broad range of disciplines from across the world with George being one of four representatives from Africa.

As an economist and behavioural scientist specialising in health systems research, George has specialised in HIV/AIDS and Sexual and Reproductive Health for more than 20 years and provided technical assistance to UN agencies, governments and funders.

George explained how his appointment had provided an amazing opportunity for him to make a valid contribution to the team through his experience and expertise. ‘The TAG, constituted by WHO, seeks to mainstream behavioural insights and sciences into WHO operations, particularly in the area of providing technical advice on national health policies and programme planning. This team will develop a framework, ensuring that behavioural insights and sciences form part of government agencies’ and international organisations’ response to health issues thereby increasing the impact of policies and programmes. Because as we have seen with our response to the COVID-19 epidemic, we rely heavily on behavioural interventions to reduce the infection rate,’ George said.

With WHO incorporating behavioural insights in numerous ways in its work and across a variety of topics, TAG’s objectives include:

• Advice on how to adopt behavioural insights and science perspectives to support WHO’s 13th General Programme of Work

• Identify priority areas for implementation within WHO and in the member states

• Make recommendations to WHO for the development of an operational framework for the mainstreaming of behavioural insights and sciences into WHO operations and

• Advise WHO on potential challenges and risks for the organisation related to the recommendations made by TAG