Yogan Pillay, PhD

Posted in Affiliates

Since 2008 Yogan has been the Deputy Director-General for health programmes in the national Department of Health, South Africa. Prior to his appointment as DDG he held the positions of chief director for strategic planning and director for the district health system – all in the National Department of Health. He has a Phd from the Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University.  

He has authored and co-authored more than 70 peer reviewed journal articles and two textbooks both with Birn and Holtz (The Textbook of International Health, 2009; The Textbook of Global Health, 2017). He has supervised and been external examiner of masters and doctoral theses.

He has been a member of the TB and HIV STACs of the WHO; co-chaired the HIV treatment guidelines committee of the WHO. He served as a member of the Boards of AMREF (SA), Health Systems Trust, the BIOVAC Institute, the National Health Laboratory Service, South African National AIDS Council as well as the Council for Medical Schemes of South Africa. He is currently a member of one of the advisory boards of the TB Alliance.

He was awarded the Fulbright and Kellogg Scholarships for doctoral study in the US. In 2018 at the 49th Union World Conference on Lung Health he was awarded the KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation Award for Eminence in Tuberculosis Control for work in TB. He was presented with the Dr Karel Styblo medallion and a certificate of appreciation. In July 2020 he was named a Paul Harris Fellow by the Board of the Rotary Foundation.

He has been a member of the ministerial committee on National Health Insurance (South Africa’s version of universal health coverage) and led the effort to develop service benefits for various levels of care).

He has been instrumental in developing investment cases for TB and HIV in South Africa which has resulted in increased allocations for TB and HIV programmes. He has established think tanks for TB and HIV to advise on out of the box thinking to drive innovation in implementation science. He has promoted the use of quality improvement methodology to strengthen the national TB programme in South Africa.

Under his leadership South Africa’s expanded programme on immunisation was able to include three new vaccines: rotavirus vaccine, pneumococcus vaccine, human papillomavirus vaccine. In addition, to increase methods mix for contraception the sub-dermal implant was introduced during his tenure as DDG.

To improve youth health as well as maternal health, two mobile solutions were introduced: Bwise, a mobisite was developed to improve access to health information for young people; and Momconnect was introduced to send text messages to pregnant women. Momconnect is also used by pregnant women to send complaints and compliments about antenatal and postnatal services received.

With his team he has been instrumental in expanding access to Genexpert since 2011 – the first country to have this technology introduced throughout its laboratory network and the introduction of new TB medicines (bedaquiline). South Africa currently has the largest cohort of patients on bedaquiline. He also led the negotiation to reduce the price of bedaquiline for South Africa which has resulted in a new global benchmark price.

He has a teenage son, Vishay, who keeps him grounded and energetic!