Global Health in South Africa (Durban)


Experience Durban, the heart of Kwa-Zulu Natal province in South Africa, and the heartland of Zulu culture. This dynamic city of over 3 million people is South Africa’s second most populous city, as well as the preferred destination for warm subtropical weather and beaches. South Africa has made great strides towards improving the lives of the black population by focusing funds and effort in improving sanitation, education, employment and access to quality healthcare. Despite great efforts, the repressive legacy of Apartheid and the HIV/AIDS and TB pandemics have continued to overburden the fledging healthcare system.  

Globally, of the 35 million people currently living with HIV, a daunting 71% are in Sub-Saharan Africa. South Africa has the world’s largest number of people living with HIV/AIDS, and the Kwa-Zulu Natal province was the epicenter of this epidemic. Participants will have the unique opportunity to learn from the local healthcare teams at various sites in Durban such as at a tertiary state hospital and a not-for-profit clinic that provides comprehensive care for those affected by HIV/AIDS. Adding to the public health and clinical activities, immerse yourself in the local culture by living with local homestay families and learn more about the vibrant Zulu culture.

CFHI offers options for students and faculty to fit your interests and schedule. Choose your program duration, or for a comparative experience, choose to participate in multiple programs. CFHI can also often accommodate alternate program dates upon request. For more information see our How to Apply page.


4 Weeks $2,975
5 Weeks $3,625
6 Weeks $4,275
7 Weeks $4,925
8 Weeks $5,575
9 Weeks $6,225
10 Weeks $6,875
Arrival Dates: 
Jan 06, 2024 Feb 03, 2024 Mar 02, 2024 Apr 06, 2024 May 04, 2024 Jun 01, 2024 Jul 06, 2024 Aug 03, 2024 

Clincal Rotations & Public Health Placements

During your time in Durban, you will experience all of the following hospital, clinical, and NGO settings through a series of short rotations that will give you unique insight into the healthcare system and the challenges presented in trying to address HIV/AIDS.

Tertiary Public Hospital- This tertiary hospital is the oldest and second largest hospital in South Africa, located near the center of Durban, and has approximately 922 beds, treating 3,000 outpatients daily. It is also the main teaching hospital for the University of KwaZulu-Natal's Nelson Mandela Medical School and as such, students have the opportunity to interact with local residents, interns and medical students to learn first-hand about the structure of medical education in South Africa. Services include Pediatrics, Neonatal ICU, General Surgery (Theatre), Emergency and Trauma Units, and an ARV Clinic. 


Parochial Hospital- Located in a semi-rural area of Durban called Mariannhill, with a population of approximately 750,000, this facility provides care for more than 48,000 patients annually. The hospital was established in 1882 by a group of trappist monks who had previously operated out of mud-huts and has capacity for 200 beds for inpatient care. The government funds only a percentage of its operational costs, with the rest funded directly by the hospital. The hospital provides Primary Health Care, OB/GYN, and has a strong focus on comprehensive treatment for HIV/AIDS patients.

Hospice- This facility has an 8 bed In-Care Centre, Home-Based caretakers and a Day Care Centre for adults and children, offering respite care for those in the final stages of chronic disease, such as HIV/AIDS, and related illnesses. Chatsworth hospice serves mainly an Indian population, consisting of low and middle-income patients. Patients may be homeless due to their HIV status, while others need constant pain relief from cancer and other illnesses. Students will have the opportunity to learn alongside nurses providing home-based care and gain insight to understanding how physicians, hospice nurses, and home-care nurses work together to provide effective patient care for those facing life limiting or life threatening illness.

HIV Clinic- This not-for-profit clinic, located in a suburb of Durban, was once a nightclub infamous for crime and drug and alcohol abuse. Along with Global Ambassador, Alicia Keys, and The Stephen Lewis Foundation, Keep a Child Alive embarked on a two-year journey to transform this nightclub into a state-of-the-art comprehensive care center for individuals affected by HIV/AIDS. Since 2006, services such as anti-retroviral treatment, psychosocial support, legal advice, meal services, and prevention through outreach touching upon substance abuse, nutrition programs, and youth development have been provided to the local community. Every month the clinic provides services to over more than 2,000 HIV positive patients. Students will have the opportunity to learn about a holistic approach to care through observation in the clinic, as well as home care visits and participation in outreach programs.


CFHI is considered a global health ethics leader therefore CFHI programs uphold strict standards and comply with all local laws regarding student involvement in health settings. Your experience on the program depends on your previous clinical training (if applicable), Spanish level, and the relationship you build with your supervising preceptor. Above all, YOU are the most important factor in making the CFHI experience as fulfilling as possible by being respectful, culturally humble, inquisitive, and open to the wide variety of learning experiences which you will encounter.


Durban is the capital city of Kwa-Zulu Natal province, and is the second largest city in South Africa, boasting a population of over 3.5 million. It is located on the Indian Ocean and boasts warm sub-tropical climate with average temperature of 82 in the summer and 68 in the winter. Because it is located in the southern hemisphere, the seasons are opposite to that of Europe and North America. Spread out and with hilly terrain, it is known as the vacation capital of South Africa, with beautiful beaches and natural and cultural treasures such as Drakensburg mountain, Kruger National Park and the Zulu nation. It also boasts a unique fusion of cultures: the bulk of its population is Zulus, descendants of indentured laborers from the subcontinent of India, and British settlers.

The main language spoken in the Kwa-Zulu Natal and the city of Durban is English. However, Zulu is widely spoken but everyone, even if it is their second or third language, can speak and understand English fluently.

Things to do 

Known in South Africa as the place to go to bask in the sun on its golden beaches, “Durbs”, as it is known to the locals, offers a mile long boardwalk known as the “Golden Mile” where South Africans of all walks of life mingle amongst sellers of Zulu arts and crafts. But Durban offers much more than just white sand and the clear warm waters of the Indian ocean.

Further out, the Kwa-zulu Natal province offers exciting activities such as a game drive through Phezulu Safari Park, Zululand birding route, and a visit to a traditional Zulu village where you can witness traditional Zulu dance and learn more about ancient rites.

Thembe Elephant Park offers a unique opportunity to view some of the largest jumbo elephants in the world. Further out, one can drive one of the most scenic routes in South Africa, the Maloki-Drakensberg heritage route. The Kingdom of Lesotho and the famous Krueger National Park are also part of the amazing array of opportunities available to all those that visit the Kwa-Zulu Natal province.

During the first few days in South Africa, participants will also get the opportunity to participate in an educational day - long tour of Durban, focusing on the history of Apartheid as well as a double decker bus city tour.


Be advised that South Africa is experiencing frequent scheduled power outages (known as load-shedding). Power outages do not affect clinical rotations, and outage schedules are generally known in advance so that South Africans and visitors are able to plan accordingly. This means that there are likely to be times each day when electronic and communications devices cannot be used and flashlights/backup power sources will be utilized. Hot water and running water may also be affected during load-shedding hours. We suggest coming prepared- bring books, cards, and conversation skills to develop your host family relationships during these outages. 

Accommodation & Homestays

Your home for the duration of the program will be with South African family in a middle class suburban neighborhood in Durban called Chatsworth, about a 20 minute drive from downtown. Most homestays are Zulu and this will allow for a deeper immersion into the culture and a better understanding of South Africa. You may be sharing housing with another student in the program.

All homestays are located within walking distance to one another. There are several stores and a minimarket offering Internet, laundry and basic goods within 10 minute walking distance. Accommodation includes two meals a day. Transportation is provided from the homestays to rotations everyday, can range anywhere from 15 minutes to 40 minutes depending on rotation. At the welcome orientation participants will be instructed on safety guidelines and recommendations on getting around the city during your free time.

Eligibility: Who Can Apply?

This CFHI program is ideal for students and non-students of all levels and health disciplines and welcome anyone interested in HIV/AIDS and community-based healthcare. The program offers an overview of the challenges in providing healthcare services to underserved communities at public hospitals focusing on the influence that Apartheid and the HIV/AIDS pandemic has inflicted on the local population. For more information, please read CFHI's general eligibility requirements.

Language Required: English

While South Africa has many official languages, English is spoken fluently and widely throughout Durban, although you will hear Zulu spoken at homestays and between patients at clinics.  

Arrival Information 

Participants should arrive in Durban, South Africa, on the program start date and will be picked up from the airport by a CFHI representative and taken to their homestay. A welcome orientation will take place the Sunday after arrival. 

Visas are not required for U.S. citizens staying less than 3 months in South Africa. More information on travel and logistics will be provided by CFHI after acceptance into the program.

What's Included?

CFHI Program fees include the majority of your on the ground costs. As a nonprofit, CFHI strives to keep fees low and offers fundraising opportunities, scholarships and discounts.


Pre-Departure Support

  • Guidance from CFHI staff in San Francisco before departure
  • Program-specific materials with information on making travel arrangements, visa requirements, recommended immunizations, etc.

On-Site Services

  • Airport pick-up upon arrival and transportation to homestay with local CFHI representative
  • Welcome orientation with other participants covering safety, transportation, and other logistics
  • Educational tour of Durban and double-decker bus city tour
  • CFHI Local Team: providing instruction, logistical support, and 24/7 emergency response
  • Weekly meetings and lectures on local healthcare system and socio-economic determinants of health
  • Placement and coordination of clinical/public health activities
  • Accommodation and two meals a day
  • Local transportation to and from clinical sites
  • Local cell phone
  • International emergency medical and evacuation insurance

Post-Return Resources

  • Access to CFHI alumni-only LinkedIn group featuring news and career opportunities related to Global Health
  • CFHI alumni newsletter highlighting events, resources, and ways to stay involved

Uniquely CFHI, 50% or more of student program fees go directly to the communities they will be visiting, benefiting the local economy at large and specifically underserved health systems. Read more

Meet the Local Team

Mrs. Tessa Beaunoir– CFHI Durban Medical Director: The role of CFHI Medical Director is to arrange clinical and public health placements, supervise participant experiences at these sites, provide weekly lectures, and assist in medical issues experienced by participants. The CFHI Medical Director is the expert on socioeconomic determinants of health in the region and healthcare delivery strategies in low-resource settings.

Tessa has served CFHI since January 2014. She obtained her degree in General Nursing at Coronation College of Nursing in 1980. She then obtained her degree in Midwifery at R.K. Khans Hospital in 1981 and Diploma in Community Nursing at Durban University of Technology in 1994. Tessa also has a degree in Nursing Administration from KZN University and completed course in Primary Health Care & Dispensing License. She worked at the Etekwini Municipality Health Department in the Primary Health Care Clinics from 1987 to 2012 and is currently working at the Blue Roof Wellness Centre, dealing with HIV infected patients specifically. Tessa first came in contact with CFHI in 2012 and found that it was a wonderful opportunity share ideas on South Africa’s health system and HIV epidemic. She enjoys teaching students and seeing students’ passion for health. During her free time, Tessa likes to fill out crossword puzzles and play old board games.

Mrs. Maureen Bell– CFHI Durban Local Coordinator: The role of the local coordinator is to organize housing, transportation, orientation and weekly meetings. Maureen is a native Durban she is a great resource for any questions related to navigating Durban, cultural norms and tips on planning weekend travel.  

Maureen has served CFHI since October 2008. She graduated from a local university with a degree in Public Management & Administration and is currently studying to for a certificate in Project Management. In addition to working with CFHI, she presently works with seven Primary Health Care Facilities. Working on changing the paper based Art patient files to electronic. This includes training and Monitoring and Evaluation. She enjoys working with CFHI students because she believes it is an opportunity to expose international students to the local healthcare system, facilities and culture. During her free time, Maureen likes to listen to a wide variety of music, read, and exercise. 

What Alumni Say

"Overall, the CFHI clinic schedule allowed for a balance of educational clinical experience and social and cultural exploration of South Africa. With no reservations, I would recommend this program to any student interested in pursuing a healthcare related field that has an interest in exploring a new culture and healthcare system."

-- anonymous 

"We were also invited to a meeting in the afternoon to which all the health care workers came to discuss difficult cases in an interdisciplinary approach. The team included the social workers, nurses, doctors and even the pharmacists. I really thought this was a great approach, because HIV is not a purely medical issue. In fact, it is probably mostly social and has everything to do with the family, friends, relationships, dealing with social stigma, etc. so it makes sense that the social worker be involved in coming up with a strategy..." Read more on Jennifer's blog. 

-- Jennifer Knight (HIV/AIDS & Healthcare in Durban participant, August 2015)

"It’s amazing how 4 weeks goes back so quickly!  Before this trip my knowledge of HIV/AIDS existed in articles on global health forums and public health books.  Now I can say I’ve been here in the thick of it.  Through spending time in clinics, hospitals, staff, and public health leaders I’ve come back with so much more knowledge.  I got to do this while..." Read more on Jessica's blog.

-- Jessica Gonzalez (HIV/AIDS & Healthcare in Durban participant, June 2013)

The Sustainable Development Goals are a global roadmap set forth by the United Nations General Assembly to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure the well-being of all individuals by the year 2030. This program highlights the following SDGs: