Global Health in South Africa (Durban)

Program overview

Durban is the heart of the 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 third most populous city, known for its warm subtropical weather and beautiful coastline. 

Since Apartheid’s fall in 1994, South Africa has improved infrastructure, education, economic opportunity and healthcare services for the underserved. Kwa-Zulu Natal province was the epicenter of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1990’s with lasting impacts in subsequent decades. This challenge led to innovative approaches to provide access to prevention, treatment and education. Despite great efforts, the repressive legacy of Apartheid and the HIV/AIDS and TB pandemics have continued to overburden the fledging healthcare system.

During this program, learn about health realities and determinants in Durban by observing clinical and public health activities in various settings, including a tertiary level public hospital, and in private clinics, hospices and NGO’s. Learn about infectious and non-communicable diseases from health experts and witness first-hand the challenges faced by the post-apartheid public health care system.

Become immersed in local culture by staying with a homestay family and exploring local Apartheid museums, food and craft markets, touring the breathtaking Drakensberg mountain region and enjoying other sites of historical and cultural interest. 

General information
South Africa
Communicable diseases End of Life & Palliative Care HIV/AIDS Hospital & Inpatient Medicine Pediatrics & Child Health Primary health care Public Health
Fees and Duration
4 Weeks - $2975 5 Weeks - $3625 6 Weeks - $4275 7 Weeks - $4925 8 Weeks - $5575 9 Weeks - $6225 10 Weeks - $6875
Start Dates
August 3rd, 2024 September 7th, 2024 October 5th, 2024 November 2nd, 2024 January 4th, 2025 February 1st, 2025 March 1st, 2025 April 5th, 2025 May 3rd, 2025 June 7th, 2025 July 5th, 2025 August 2nd, 2025 September 6th, 2025 October 4th, 2025 November 1st, 2025

About this program


Durban 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 almost everyone, even if it is their second or third language, can speak and understand English fluently.

Program participants will find their home away from home in carefully selected homestays, screened by CFHI Local Coordinators in Durban and following CFHI’s health and safety guidelines. Nestled within a middle-class suburban neighborhood in the Woodlands area of Durban, these homestays offer the perfect blend of comfort and authenticity. In some cases, CFHI scholars share a house or a room in the same homestay with fellow program participants.

Going beyond mere lodging, staying with a local South African family provides a unique opportunity to learn about the local culture. Accommodations include two meals per day. At the welcome orientation, participants will be instructed on culture and work etiquette to have the best experience in both homestay and the health settings.

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

  • Program advising and support via email, phone, and web meeting from CFHI’s Central Leadership team
  • Detailed online Pre-Departure Training that includes modules on program logistics (flights, visas, immunizations, and more), intercultural learning, introduction to health realities at your program site, and much more

On-Site Services

  • Airport pick-up upon arrival and transportation with a local CFHI representative to your program lodging
  • Welcome orientation 1-2 days after arrival covering safety, transportation, and other logistics
  • CFHI Local Team that provides instruction, logistical support, and 24/7 emergency response
  • Meetings and lectures on local healthcare system, socio-economic determinants of health and current cultural/historical topics. 
  • Placement and coordination of clinical and any public health activities (if relevant)
  • Accommodation and two meals per day
  • Local cell phone or support obtaining a local SIM card
  • International emergency medical and evacuation insurance (unless waived by your university or institution)

Post-Return Resources

  • Opportunities to engage as a CFHI Alumni Ambassador, reviewing scholarship applications, speaking on CFHI panels, and more
  • Access to CFHI alumni-only social media group/s featuring news and career opportunities related to Global Health
  • CFHI alumni newsletter highlighting events, professional development opportunities, resources, and ways to stay involved


Uniquely, 60% or more of CFHI student program fees go directly to the communities they will be visiting, benefiting the local economy at large. 


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 Hluhluwe/imfolozi Game Reserve is also part of the amazing array of opportunities available to all those that visit the Kwa-Zulu Natal province. Students may visit Kingdom of Lesotho and the famous Krueger National Park outside of the KZN province during their time in Durban.

During the first few days in South Africa, participants may have 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.


A typical day in a CFHI program is a blend of immersive learning, cultural exploration, and personal reflection. Participants begin their mornings with breakfast at their homestays. Clinical rotations will usually take place five days a week, for 4-6 hours each day. The clinical site assignments and schedule are shared by the local team upon arrival. Dinner will be served by the host family in the evenings. Weekends are free of program-planned activities.

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 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.

Kathryn Flinn

I graduated in 2021 from UC Davis with a degree in Global Disease Biology and minors in Public Health and International Agricultural Development. The CFHI program in Durban, South Africa, was a great experience and steered me towards my current role as a Ph.D. student at Virginia Commonwealth University where my research is focused on tick-borne diseases. I enjoy everything and anything outdoor related and love learning!

Clinical Rotations & Public Health Placements


This program will introduce you to South Africa’s different health care sectors. During your time in Durban, you will likely experience all or most 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. The following sites are a sample of possible rotations during this program. After acceptance, students can indicate any preferences on their application. The local team does their best to accommodate learners’ preferences, based on local availability and conditions.


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, participants 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.



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. The hospice mainly serves a population consisting of low and middle-income patients. Patients may be homeless, while others need constant pain relief from cancer and other illnesses. Participants 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.


Primary Health Clinic

This clinic offers a range of much-needed services including primary healthcare, the training of caregivers interested in home-based care, HIV testing and counseling, as well as access to a dermatologist and an optometrist to the surrounding community. The clinic also houses a youth and senior citizens club, and will soon provide tuition for high school learners in the area. In addition to offering specialized services like optometry, dermatology, occupational therapy, etc. – the clinic is an approved VCT centre and offers HIV/AIDS counseling and testing on a regular basis.


Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust (HACT)

Founded in 1990, the Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust (HACT) is dedicated to saving and transforming lives. As one of the first NGO’s in South Africa to respond to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, HACT has established a reputation for making a significant and meaningful impact in the lives of people impacted by the disease.

While their work and services continues to grow throughout KwaZulu-Natal, they primarily focus on serving the semi-rural and disadvantaged communities of the Valley of 1000 Hills region of KwaZulu-Natal, one of the epicenters of the global HIV/AIDS epidemic with HIV infection rates of up to 40% -more than double the current national average of 19%. (South African National AIDS Council)


Meet the Local Team

Mrs. Tessa Beaunoir
Mrs. Tessa Beaunoir
CFHI Durban Medical Director

Mrs. Tessa Beaunoir – CFHI Durban Medical Director

The local Medical Director oversees and arranges all clinical and public health-related activities and is also responsible for coordinating healthcare and emergency services for participants as needed. They coordinate a cadre of preceptors who mentor and supervise program participants at both clinical and public/community health sites.

CFHI’s Medical Director in Durban, South Africa since January 2014, Ms. Tessa Beaunoir 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 a Diploma in Community Nursing at Durban University of Technology in 1994. Tessa also has a degree in Nursing Administration from KZN University and completed courses in Primary Health Care & Dispensing License. She worked at the Ethekwini Municipality Health Department in the Primary Health Care Clinics from 1987 to 2012. From 2012 until the Centre closed in 2016, Tessa worked at the Blue Roof Wellness Centre; dealing with HIV patients specifically.

Mrs. Maureen Bell
Mrs. Maureen Bell
CFHI Durban Local Coordinator

Mrs. Maureen Bell – CFHI Durban Local Coordinator

The CFHI Local Coordinators manage the logistics of housing, transportation, and cultural immersion throughout the program. Maureen is a native to Durban and 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 college with a National Diploma in Public Management & Administration. 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.


This CFHI program is ideal for participants who are 19 years of age or older, who have an interest in fields related to hospital & inpatient medicine, primary health care, communicable diseases, pediatric & child health and end-of -life & palliative care. You do not need to be a student to be eligible for this program; mid-career professionals, GAP year learners, and others are also welcome. This program will provide an in-depth overview of hospital & inpatient medicine, primary health care, communicable diseases, pediatric & child health and end-of -life & palliative care in South Africa through rotations within clinics and hospitals in Durban. To confirm your eligibility, please read CFHI’s general eligibility requirements.

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:

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What alumni say about this program

Jennifer K.
Jennifer K.

“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.

Jessica G.
Jessica G.

“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.

How to Apply

Create profile

Submit application

Hear back from CFHI team

Complete pre-departure training and requirements


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