South Africa is faced with a heavy burden of disease, which includes both communicable and non-communicable diseases. The theme profiles a broad spectrum of research, starting with lifestyle interventions for chronic disease, diet quality, new ways of studying obesity, and using schools as sites for social change. Research into deafness is also presented, and innovation that makes possible and widely accessible the early identification of hearing loss. A major focus in this theme is human development. In addition, the interface between human and animal health is profiled in a context of anthropogenic impact on the environment and changing climate conditions.