Eliza Govender an NRF rated researcher, is an Associate Professor and Academic Leader of the Centre for Communication, Media and Society (CCMS), in the School of Applied Human Sciences at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. She is an internationally recognised researcher in the field of health communication from a communication for social change perspective. Govender is vice-chair of the Health Communication working group for the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR) and on the editorial board of Communicare and the Journal for Applied Communication Research and a Review Editor for Frontiers in Communication: Journal of Culture and Communication. She was served on the KZN Department of Health (DOH) committee for developing and implementing the provincial Health Promotion Strategy for COVID-19 and also served as an advisor on several communication committees and task teams on strategic social and behavior change communication for HIV prevention. Govender was recently appointed to one of the NRF review and evaluations committees and continues to have a well balanced national and international footprint in her area of research and expertise.
She was the recipient of the NRF three -year Thuthuka grant that utilises a socio-ecological framework to explore a multi-layered tailored communication approach for new biomedical innovations. She is currently the South African principal investigator of the Joint NHISS-ICSSR grant between South African and India that explores ways in which India and South Africa can Glocalise prevention efforts to COVID-19. During her time as a social scientist at CAPRISA, Govender was co-principal investigator (PI) for the Oral PrEP Demonstration Project (CAPRISA 084) and she continues to pursue her research interests that centres on the utilisation of culturally centred participatory methodologies to advance the promotion of HIV combination prevention; and adoption of human centered design for biomedical innovations.
Govender during her time as the programme manager (2008-2013) for the USAID funded capacity building initiative funded through Johns Hopkins Health and Education in South Africa (JHHESA) and based at CCMS, UKZN, managed and taught one of the first postgraduate programmes in Health Promotion via Entertainment Education. Today various graduates have returned to their home institutions in countries such as Kenya, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi to continue in this health communication trajectory. Govender’s teaching and research interests include entertainment education, communication for social and behavioural change and participatory culture-centred methodologies for health communication and implementation science research.
Govender is passionate about communicating health effectively and addressing the disciplinary divide between communication and public health. In her recent co-edited book Communicating COVID-19 Interdisciplinary Perspectives, currently in print with Palgrave MacMillian, Govender with co-editors Dr Monique Lewis from Griffith University and Dr Kate Holland from the University of Canberra, explores the public health responses in different countries, with chapters examining community-driven approaches, communication strategies of governments and political leaders, public health advocacy, and pandemic inequalities.