Carel has qualifications from Belgium and the Netherlands (MD), South Africa (FFCH) and the USA (MPH). He holds nationality of South Africa and the Netherlands.
He worked in rural health in South Africa (1980-1986), in peri-urban and urban health as deputy medical officer of health of Johannesburg (1987-1990), moving to the Medical University of South Africa in 1991. He became head of the Department of Community Health at the University of Pretoria in 1995 and founding director of its School of Health Systems and Public Health in 1999. He was appointed as executive director of COHRED in Geneva, in 2004. He is adjunct professor at the School of Applied Human Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, in South Africa.
He has published extensively on implementation programs in immunization, nutrition, HIV/AIDS, urban health, and research ethics. More recently, his focus has been on fairness in research partnerships as key requirement for systematic research and innovation system growth in low- and middle-income countries. The Research Fairness Initiative (RFI) is a key instrument in this work.