“It is in your hands, to make a better world for all who live in it.” — Nelson Mandela

Elizabeth Leonard


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Organisation / Company

Clinton Health Access Initiative South Africa


Elizabeth Leonard, 31, is a public health associate at the Clinton Health Access Initiative, which works closely with the department of health to strengthen the health system and improve health outcomes. To this end her work focuses on strengthening the resilience of health systems through interventions spanning health emergency response and solar electrification.

Elizabeth led the health facility solar electrification ecosystem landscaping analysis, provided technical support to develop various plans and strategies that enable the public health emergency operations centre and pandemic preparedness and supported the national roll-out of rapid diagnostic tests in clinics. Furthermore, she is developing climate-health adaptation interventions and initiatives to improve leadership and governance in the public health system.

Her presentation at COP28 at the Resilience Hub on the intersection between climate and health is an achievement Elizabeth is proud of. She focused on adaptation strategies for people in the perinatal period. She says it is apparent that human-caused climate change is a health emergency that requires urgent interventions.


  • Doctor of Philosophy in Industrial Engineering, Stellenbosch University
  • Bachelor of Industrial Engineering, Stellenbosch University


A recent achievement that I am proud of is the presentation that I made at COP28 at the Resilience Hub on the intersection between climate and health. The project I am proud of is the health facility solar electrification project that I led in which we visited 35 primary health facilities in five provinces.

The field visits included discussions with national, provincial and district departments of health, public and private health facilities, development partners and solar providers. The project was undertaken to generate evidence that will inform the selection of a context appropriate delivery model for solar systems in health, and to identify opportunities, challenges and key success factors pertinent to establishing sustainable health facility solar electrification programmes in primary healthcare facilities.

The results of the project showed that solar energy is a viable solution for primary health facilities because it can contribute to resilient and sustainable healthcare facilities. My hope is that the evidence generated from the project will support the mobilisation of resources to install solar in primary health facilities.


I have been fortunate to have several mentors and role models who have influenced my journey in public health. Professor Yogan Pillay exposed me to the climate-health space and encouraged me to develop innovative ideas to respond to the adverse health outcomes resulting from the climate crisis. Dr Terence Carter has provided me with general public health mentorship, giving me insights into the intricacies of the public health system that one can only gain from being in the system for decades. Vishal Brijlal recognised and encouraged my passion and has afforded me opportunities to share my work on various platforms.