HIV TREATMENT INCREASES LIFE EXPECTANCY BY 11 YEARS IN RURAL KZN

HIV TREATMENT INCREASES LIFE EXPECTANCY BY 11 YEARS IN RURAL KZN

In about a decade of widespread HIV treatment, adult life expectancy has increased by more than 11 years in rural KwaZulu-Natal.

This is the finding - published in the leading scientific journal, Science -  of Researchers at the Africa Centre for Health and Population Studies, based in the College of Health Sciences at UKZN

Adult life expectancy is a commonly used summary indicator to compare mortality rates across countries and over time. It is defined as the age to which a 15-year-old could expect to live if subjected to the age-specific mortality rates observed in a population for a specific period of time.

The current study measured trends in adult life expectancy between 2000 and 2011 among 101 000 individuals in an area of Umkhanyakude in KwaZulu-Natal. The community is largely rural and 29 percent of adults were HIV-positive in 2011.

In the early 2000s, adult life expectancy in this community declined considerably, reaching 49.2 years in 2003. However, following the scale-up of antiretroviral treatment (ART) in public sector clinics and hospitals in 2004, adult life expectancy began to increase, reaching 60.5 years by 2011.

‘We have known for many years that ART prolongs the lives of people with HIV, but the impact of ART scale-up on adult life expectancy at the population level hadn’t previously been measured,’ said the study’s lead author, Dr Jacob Bor of the Africa Centre and Harvard School of Public Health.

The public sector scale-up of ART has transformed health in this community, Bor said. ‘Before ART became widely available, most people were dying in their 30s and 40s. Now people are living to pension age and beyond.’

Since 2004, the Centre has also partnered with the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health to support implementation of the HIV treatment and care programme in the Hlabsia sub-district, where the surveillance area is located.

This programme is nurse- and counsellor-led and implemented primarily at community-based primary health care clinics. By 2011, seven percent of all adults ages 15 and older residing in the community had started ART in the government treatment programme.

In South Africa at the time of the study, treatment eligibility was largely limited to those infected people with advanced HIV ie with a CD4 of =200 cells/µl. This was raised to 350 cells/µl in August 2011.

‘The reduction in mortality has been very visible to the members of the community,’ said Professor Marie-Louise Newell, Director of the Africa Centre. ‘Whereas as six years ago there was at least one funeral every weekend, now this is more like one a month.

‘The Department of Health’s commitment to rapid scale-up of ART in this region, bringing treatment as close to the people who need it as possible, has achieved massive results. It has been a privilege to be able to support the scale-up of ART in this community,’ said Newell.

‘The challenge will be to further strengthen and sustain these gains, especially with infected people now starting treatment at an earlier stage, which they will need to continue with for life.’

Even with these large gains in adult life expectancy, the authors of the study still found evidence of excess HIV-related mortality among younger adults, aged 15-45 years. ‘As this study shows, providing ART at scale in settings with high HIV prevalence has had very large impacts on adult life expectancy at the population level,’ said Dr Till Bärnighausen, Senior Epidemiologist at the Africa Centre.

‘Further expansion of treatment access, recruitment, and retention, as well as further investments in circumcision and other HIV interventions to reduce the spread of HIV are likely to achieve additional gains in adult life expectancy,’ said Bärnighausen.

Supporting the findings of the study; Professor Quarraisha Abdool Karim, Associate Scientific Director of the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA), said the following about why HIV-related mortality rate is still high in the 15-45 year age group:

‘The burden of HIV infection and AIDS is highest in the 15-49 year age group with women acquiring infection from age 15 onwards and men from about age 25 onwards.  Continued high mortality rates in this age group could be as a result of several factors including: not all infected individuals who require treatment are accessing treatment to reap the survival benefit and about 60-70 percent of those with AIDS in KwaZulu-Natal are co-infected with TB. 

‘Delayed ARV treatment initiation in HIV-TB co-infected patients results in about a 30 percent excess mortality that could be prevented from early ARV treatment initiation,’ said Karim.

‘This is the clearest evidence yet that well-designed public sector ART programmes are highly effective and worth every penny spent,’ said Mr Jimmy Whitworth, Head of International Activities at the Wellcome Trust. The study sends a clear message to governments and donors around the world who are debating levels of support for such programmes.’


author email : Francism@ukzn.ac.za

LOOKING BACK IN TIME

LOOKING BACK IN TIME

Humanity has gazed at the night sky and wondered about the nature of the universe for thousands of years… and we are still wondering today.

These were the words of Dr Matthew Greenhouse of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the United States who presented a riveting public lecture on the Westville campus titled: Looking Back in Time: Extracting Information from Starlight.

Greenhouse was in South Africa as a guest of UKZN’s Astrophysics and Cosmology Research Unit (ACRU).Greenhouse explained that nearly all of the information the world had today about the universe was encoded in starlight. ‘The challenge of modern astronomy is one of finding new ways to extract information from ever fainter light,’ he said.  ‘Light that was emitted near the dawn of time.’

Greenhouse’s public lecture explained aspects of how information is extracted from starlight, what scientists have learned, and what they hope to learn with the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) which will begin its mission in 2018.

Greenhouse has served on the JWST senior staff as Project Scientist since 1997. He specialises in infrared imaging spectroscopy, development of related instrumentation and technologies, flight project science, and technical management.

The JWST is a joint project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.  It is currently America’s largest scientific project, with a budget of $8 billion dollars (about R72 billion) being spent in the United States alone.   The telescope is scheduled for launch in 2018. 

Construction of the JWST is nearing completion and extensive testing for its launch is beginning.  ‘Testing the JWST requires the largest space simulation facilities in the world,’ said Greenhouse.

Key features of the JWST include seven times the light gathering capacity of the Hubble Space Telescope (HST);  wavelength coverage spanning the optical to mid-infrared parts of the spectrum; and similar angular resolution to the HST but at longer wavelengths.  ‘In effect, this means that it will be able to see further back into space and time,’ explained Greenhouse.

The JWST will be placed in orbit about 1.5 million kilometes from earth and will follow the earth around the sun.  It will take about 100 days to get into position and will have a five to 10-year life span.  It will be able to observe the whole sky over the course of a year while remaining continuously in the shadow of its sunshield.  Its five-layer sunshield has a sun protection factor of a million.

Greenhouse said that the JWST, besides being able to do the complete range of science functions that the HST currently performed,  will have the capability to see the first galaxies, and aid understanding of  how they evolved from the time of big bang until today.  It would be able to study star formation and planet formation.

‘The JWST has the sensitivity and stability for detecting liquid water (the essential requirement for life) on planets that are just a few sizes bigger than the earth,’ said Greenhouse.  ‘The JWST will study our solar system to learn how it and others evolve after their planets are formed.

‘It will help us in our quest to answer fundamental questions such as:  What happened before the big bang? What is at the centre of a black hole? What is our cosmic destiny? What are space and time? Are we alone?’ 

‘As a general purpose observatory, it will have the capacity to reveal wonders and to answer questions we don’t even know yet.  The JWST has the potential for unbounded discovery.  It will be the future of space astronomy.’

Greenhouse was complimentary about the work being done by the ACRU.  The Unit is housed within the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science, and the School of Chemistry and Physics, which fall under the broader banner of UKZN’s College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science.

He said there would be synergies in the research being done by ACRU scientists using the Square Kilometre Array Telescope, and information coming from the JWST.

As an example, he pointed out that the SKA could observe hydrogen gas in the spaces between the earliest galaxies.  ‘It may be able to see that very gas out of which early galaxies were formed,’ he said.  ‘This will complement the JWST, which will see the stars that form from the gas in these first galaxies.’

Greenhouse explained that observation time on the JWST would be made available to the whole world-wide astronomical community, with time being awarded by means of peer reviewed proposals.  He therefore saw plenty of opportunity for future collaboration with ACRU.


author email : frosts@ukzn.ac.za

NEW INTERVENTION MODEL TO ASSIST PUBLIC HEALTH CLINICS

NEW INTERVENTION MODEL TO ASSIST PUBLIC HEALTH CLINICS

UKZN’s Centre for Rural Health (CRH) has developed an intervention model that is designed to assist public health clinics in KwaZulu-Natal to integrate maternal, child, women's health (MCWH) and HIV services into the well-child setting.

This was announced when the Centre recently held a feedback session on one of its research projects funded by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and supported by KwaZulu-Natal’s Department of Health.

Dr Christiane Horwood, a member of the Centre’s research team, said: ‘Although uptake of services for prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) is high in the antenatal period in KwaZulu-Natal, there is considerable loss in follow up once the baby is born.’

‘Many HIV infected mothers and their babies do not receive key interventions that have been shown to improve outcomes. Uptake of postnatal care for mothers, including family planning, is also poor. However, immunisation services are well attended.

‘So, providing key PMTCT and maternal health interventions during well-child visits provides an opportunity to increase uptake of these interventions within existing services,’ said Horwood

The Integrated Service for Impact and Sustainability (ISIS) Project was launched in the latter half of 2012, reviewing the degree of integration of MCWH services in clinics, the roles, training and self-efficacy of health workers, and the experiences of mothers attending the well-baby clinic.

The study found that mother-baby pairs attended the clinics timeously but did not receive a comprehensive range of services during the visit.  This was due to a number of factors including lack of role clarification in terms of who should be responsible for providing key services to mothers and their babies, and a lack of co-ordination of services leading to missed opportunities for care and fragmentation of services and equipment. 

Lack of privacy and long waiting times were also identified as barriers to providing quality care to mother-baby pairs. The study found that many of the components necessary for an integrated service were available, but they needed to be strengthened and streamlined.

Based on the findings of this research, CRH together with the provincial Department of Health, identified a range of activities which could be included in an integrated well-mother and baby service, the roles and responsibilities of each cadre of health worker in providing this service, and the resources required for its successful implementation.

Recommendations included shifting key tasks to lower cadres of health workers to maximise efficient use of health workers, to train health workers these new roles where necessary, to better co-ordinate mother and baby services, and to streamline the clinic to prevent fragmentation of services.  

Horwood said it was concerning that mothers and babies could go home from the clinic without having received the lifesaving interventions they needed.

The researchers reported that integration was complex and one model of integration may not be suitable in all clinics. ‘Implementation may be dependent on specific circumstances in the individual clinics and clinics may need to adapt the model to suit their own unique circumstances.

‘The suggestions made in this report on providing an integrated service need to be viewed as flexible and open to change. The piloting of an integrated MCWH and HIV service will shed further light on the way forward.’

author email : Memelal@ukzn.ac.za

CARDBOARD RECYCLING PROPOSAL WINS AWARD FOR UKZN STUDENT

CARDBOARD RECYCLING PROPOSAL WINS AWARD FOR UKZN STUDENT

A proposal for a recycling facility in Durban for informal cardboard recyclers has won a University of KwaZulu-Natal student a major architectural award.

The proposal from architecture student at the School of Built Environment and Development Studies (BEDS), Mr Dennis-Lee Stols, was the winning entry in the 2013 KwaZulu-Natal Corobrik Architectural Student of the Year competition.

The awards ceremony took place at the KwaZulu-Natal Institute for Architects in Durban.

Regional competitions are currently being held at eight universities across the country in the run-up to the national finals.

Stols, who won R7 000 for his efforts, was ecstatic at being the KwaZulu-Natal winner ‘It feels great to be recognised for all my hard work so far,’ he said. 

Stols’s entry, titled: Insurgency as an influence of socially responsive Urban Development, proposes a recycling facility for the informal cardboard recyclers in the Durban CBD.

In this thesis, Stols investigated how the urban poor survive in an environment that excludes them and labels them as undesirables. 

‘As more and more people are moving from rural life to try and earn a living, architects and town planners need to focus their attention on these people who comprise a larger proportion of the urban population.

‘This design will offer cardboard recyclers a place from which they can work. It’s simply designed to suit the occupation, and I’ve included a roof garden to promote sustainable living as well as high density transient housing for the recyclers,’ said Stols. 

He added that the site was a micro version of a true green city, acting as a learning tool for the general public and an income generating tool for the informal recyclers.

Corobrik Director of Sales KwaZulu-Natal and Border, Mr Mike Ingram, said: ‘The students who have received these awards have demonstrated a remarkable maturity in their work and a welcome acceptance of the multifaceted approach which bodes well for the future of the profession and the sustainability of our planet.’

The national winner, who gets a R50 000 cash prize, will be announced at the 26th National Student Architect awards function at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg on 18 April.


author email : Mungroo@ukzn.ac.za

SHOOTING FOR THE STARS!

SHOOTING FOR THE STARS!

UKZN’s Astrophysics and Cosmology Research Unit (ACRU), renowned for its dynamic and ground-breaking research programmes, recently held an informative and interactive public information afternoon.

The ACRU is housed within the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science and the School of Chemistry and Physics, which fall under the broader banner of UKZN’s College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science.

The Unit plays a leading role in cutting-edge international astronomy projects that explore the frontiers of knowledge of our universe. 

Headed by Professor Sunil Maharaj, holder of the prestigious South African National Research Foundation Chair in Gravitating Systems, the ACRU is home to a passionate team of researchers.  The Unit has successfully attracted students from around the world with international bi-lateral research agreements existing with universities in the United States, the United Kingdom, Spain, France and India.

Courses, offered at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, prepare students for an exciting career in astrophysics and cosmology research. ACRU currently boasts a growing cohort of PhD and Postdoctoral scholars. 

The work of ACRU received a significant boost when South Africa was awarded the lion’s share of the Square Kilometre Array Project (SKA).  The project will witness unprecedented international collaboration around the building of the world’s largest radio telescope and bring exciting new scientific development and recognition to this country.

‘ACRU will be at the forefront of this pioneering research into the origins of our universe,’ said Professor Kavilan Moodley, Associate Professor and researcher within the Unit.  ‘Over the next decade, teams of scientists and engineers from around the world will work on this unique scientific opportunity.  ACRU is ideally placed to maximise this opportunity.’

The ACRU and UKZN are wasting no time in attracting the best brains in the business.  The School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science recently announced that Professor Jonathan Sievers and Dr Cynthia Chiang from Princeton University, USA, had been appointed to join UKZN’s cohort of world-class academics. 

‘Professor Sievers and Dr Chiang will bring unique research opportunities to UKZN, and new ideas to boost the astrophysics and cosmology undergraduate curriculum,’ said Dean and Head of School, Professor Kesh Govinder.  ‘Mathematics at UKZN has been rated as Number 1 in South Africa in terms of research impact, and we intend to keep our Number 1 position!’

In an effort to attract bright young minds to the field of astrophysics and cosmology, ACRU runs an exciting astronomy outreach programme which targets schools, universities and the general public.  Through this programme, undergraduate and postgraduate bursaries are available to aspiring astronomers.

For further information contact ACRU’s Outreach and PR Co-ordinator, Ms Prashina Kallideen on 031 260 8078 or email acru.pr@gmail.com


author email : frosts@ukzn.ac.za

UKZN’S DUSI STAR

UKZN’S DUSI STAR

Dr Marion Young, an animal scientist with the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences, was the ninth lady home in the 2013 Unlimited Dusi Canoe Marathon and proud winner of the Sub Veteran category.

‘I am really happy to say that I achieved my goal of a top 10 finish – and against girls who are half my age!’ said Young.  ‘It is really special to see that effort in training and in attitude does pay off.  As the Asics advert says: “I am made of all the days you don’t see.  Not just the one you do”.’

Young started paddling late in life.  ‘I was on my horses and everything and that is a really expensive sport to be competitive in now,’ she said.

‘I did my first Dusi in 2009 with my younger brother Glen in a K2, just because we had to do the “bucket list” thing. The bug bit, and as they say, the rest is history.’

Young is an avid fan of paddling.  ‘I get to spend time outdoors in our special country with special people.’

She joked that unlike her horses, canoes didn’t have to be fed and they generally listened when one told them where to go!  ‘Paddling presents that opportunity to be fit and live life,’ she said.  ‘You get out of it what you put in.’

2013 has been Young’s most successful Dusi to date.  ‘I only kicked up a gear last year,’ she said.  ‘Before that I was pretty casual.’  Young explained that all qualifiers and river races during the season culminate in one’s performance at the Dusi.  ‘I had the privilege of training with Mr Len Jenkins (Senior) from last year, and we worked really hard for a good result, with some eyes on flat water marathon goals as well.’

Young says every Dusi is unique.  ‘We had huge water this year so that was a challenge. I believe that the reason we come back to do the Dusi each year is because each time, it presents a unique permutation of fitness, people, personal, seasonal, water and logistical challenges.  So the race is essentially new every year.’

‘I think that the emphasis on the development paddlers has also made the sport more competitive across the board and I think this is good,’ she said. 

Young commented that South African paddler Brigitte Hartley’s bronze medal at the 2012 Olympic Games had brought a new professionalism to the canoeing agenda, even at club level. 

A win at the SA K1 River Champs at the Fish River Canoe Marathon in October 2012 in the Sub Veteran category secured KwaZulu-Natal Colours for her.  ‘I was very chuffed with that,’ she said. 

What about future Dusis?  ‘Oh yes!  I joke with my brother Glen that when we did our first Dusi, we had a great time but we didn’t have a clue.  Now I tell him he owes me another Dusi because now at least I know where to go!’

‘The Dusi teaches one lots of things.  I hope to have the same goal-driven approach to my equine research and teaching at UKZN.’

Young has some advice for any wannabe paddlers out there.  She says it is never too late to start something new and to develop a passion for it, set goals, and make the sacrifice and hard work count

‘You can paddle at 9 km per hour and you get down the river, but when you train harder, the magic happens!’


author email : Frosts@ukzn.ac.za

ISAZIMFUNDO SIZOSEBENZELA IBHODI YABAHLELI UMHLABAWONKE

ISAZIMFUNDO SIZOSEBENZELA IBHODI YABAHLELI UMHLABAWONKE

USolwazi  Radhamany Sooryamoorthy weSikole seSayensi yezeNhlalonhle utomulwe iBhodi labahleli, i-International  Sociology Review of Books – (ISRB), elingelinye lama-Jenali elihamba phambili kwi- International Sociological Association - (ISA). 

i-ISA inhlangano yalabo obangongoti kanye nosoSayensi  kwiNhlalonhle enamalungu angaphezu kwezi-3000 aqhamuka emazweni angaphezu kwa-167.

Minyaka yonke i-ISRB ishicilela amabhuku amabili abizwa phecelezi nge-International Sociology. Ngale kokubuyekeza imibhalo noma izincwadi ezintsha kuwo amagatsha eNhlalonhle, leli bhodi elingenhla libuye lengamele izinkundla zokuphikisana ezindabeni ezingamele yona iNhlalonhle.

Oka-Sooryamoorthy ungungoti kwezeNhlalonhle aphinde futhi asebenze kwiBhodi njengaleli i-Journal of Comperative Family Studies kanye ne-Loyola Journal of Social Sciences.

USooryamoorthy uthi lawa amathuba avulekile kuyena ukuthi akhuthaze futhi ashicilele ozakwabo abasebencane e-UKZN asebeneminyaka bekhula emisebenzini yabo.

Amalungu amasha eBhodi aqhamuka ezikhungweni zemfundo ezihloniphekile umhlaba-jikelele.

Click here for English version


author email : SooryamoorthyR@ukzn.ac.za

FOSTERING A LOVE OF MATHS AND SCIENCE

FOSTERING A LOVE OF MATHS AND SCIENCE

In an effort to promote mathematics and science among high school pupils, UKZN’s College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science sponsored 10 trophies which were presented to high-performing UKZN-feeder schools in the Pietermaritzburg and Durban areas.

The awards recognised outstanding results in mathematics and science and went to top achievers in the subjects at the various schools, based on the 2012 Grade 11 year-end results.

The purpose of the awards is to build relationships with feeder schools, as well as foster an awareness of, and interest in, UKZN among local high school pupils.

The College aims to recognise the hard work that goes into top achievement; as well as identify and attract top potential future students who have an aptitude and a love for the disciplines of mathematics and science.

This is the third year the College has presented trophies to top feeder-schools.


author email : Frosts@ukzn.ac.za

UKZN ASSISTS GREEN INTERNET REVOLUTION

UKZN ASSISTS GREEN INTERNET REVOLUTION

The Umthombo Enviro Club at Umthombo Secondary School in Mpophomeni meets on a regular basis in one of the school’s classrooms.

At their last meeting, the Google Earth image appeared on one of the cream-painted classroom walls through a projector linked to a laptop. The globe tilted and after a vertigo moment, the picture plunged down towards earth with viewers finding themselves “hovering above Mpophomeni”.

‘That is an eagle-eye view of your township,’ said Ms Louise Boothway of the Eco Schools Programme, an international project active in 51 countries, which facilitates the club meetings.

Zooming closer, pop-up flags appeared on the screen. Clicking on them revealed what members of the Umthombo Enviro Club had been up to lately.

Photographs showed members participating in a project drawing attention to the sewage problems experienced in parts of Mpophomeni.

One photograph featured club member Mr Olwethu Ngcobo interviewing a local woman using a cellphone. ‘I recorded her telling me about the area just below her property that is polluted with sewage and how her children cannot play outside.’

These photographs and the environmental issues they highlight can be seen by anyone who signs up to the Mathuba Schools and Citizens River Health Programme, which uses cellphone technology to report, discuss and take action on issues affecting the health of local rivers.

Participating in the programme is simple. A cellphone or camera is used to take photographs or write comments on local environmental issues which are then posted onto a special address at Flickr. Pictures are shared on Flickr.

By downloading SCRHP files from the Mathuba website, the files can be opened with Google Earth to discover what other members of the Mathuba programme are experiencing where they live.

Mathuba is Zulu for “an opportunity” or “now is the time”, and while the programme is aimed primarily at the youth, anyone who wants to work with other organisations in developing and promoting school-based research activities can sign up.

It’s early days yet and there are just a handful of members, including the Umthombo Enviro Club, Mpophomeni Eco Champions and the Imbali Organic Farming.  However, the programme clearly has a global potential thanks to its use of the Internet.

The Mathuba programme is a collaboration organised by UKZN’s School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences and is headed by Senior Lecturer, Dr Mark Dent. ‘It’s designed to encourage pupils to take a lifelong interest in the health of rivers, their immediate environments and the catchments to which they are connected,’ says Dent.

The other organisations collaborating in Mathuba are the Duzi Umgeni Conservation Trust (Duct), Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA), Msunduzi Innovation and Development Institute, Working for Wetlands, Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute, Umgeni Water and the Wildlands Conservation Trust.

Dent had been pondering the need for such an environmental Internet programme for some years, but interaction with environmental teacher Ms Lynn Hurry a year ago proved the necessary catalyst to its creation.

‘Mark had a good idea, but he needed someone to get it going,’ said Hurry, who is now an associate on the Mathuba programme. ‘I have a good network of contacts via my work with WESSA and other environmental organisations, and was able to connect the people to get it up and running.’

According to Dent, much of the thinking underlying the intellectual core of Mathuba is based on the work of Mr Peter Senge, Director of the Centre for Organisational Learning at the MIT Sloan School of Management, who has devised a social learning model for the collection and dissemination of information on environmental issues that leads to an improved understanding, which, in turn, creates innovative solutions.

Dent sees the programme as being of use to people and organisations already working in the environmental field and for newcomers. ‘Citizens of all ages can put up what they are doing on the Mathuba programme. This is a process for 10-year-olds to PhDs and beyond.’

*This article originally appeared in The Witness and was written by Stephen Coan.


author email : Dent@ukzn.ac.za

CORNELL UNIVERSITY GROUP HOSTED BY UKZN

CORNELL UNIVERSITY GROUP HOSTED BY UKZN

Academics and students from Cornell University in the United States were recently hosted by Dr Joyce Chitja, a Lecturer in Food Security based at UKZN’s School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences (SAEES).

The delegation, which included postgraduate students, was led by Professor Anusuya Ranjagaran, a senior horticultural scientist and Director of the Cornell Small Farms Programme. 

Her co-leader, Dr Tye Mackay, and the students of the Cornell International Institute of Food, Agricultural and Development  (CIIFAD), spent two weeks working on market access issues spanning production, people skills, livelihoods and markets innovation. The Cornell students were paired with the African Centre for Food Security (ACFS) postgraduate students. 

The group participated in a wide range of academic activities, including seminars at the UKZN Ukulinga research farm, round table discussions with agricultural stakeholders, as well as community-based research in Wartburg’s Swayimanyi Traditional Authority.

The purpose of the visit was to participate in a joint research project, which focused on Market Access and Livelihoods for Farmers and Communities in Rural Farming Communities.

The Cornell delegation combined with a multidisciplinary team of academics and students from UKZN, the core group of which were derived from the SAEES transdisciplinary Food Security Programme.

The team initiated a baseline study to collate a database for a long-term study to assess the livelihoods and social and natural assets of small scale community farmers. This study was conducted in partnership with the Agribusiness Development Agency and the Provincial Department of Agriculture.

Highlights of the trip were round table discussions attended by Professor Mathieu Rouget, the Chair of Land Use Planning and Management at SAEES;  Dr Rosemary Awuorh of the School of Planning and Built Environment and Mr Denver Naidoo of the ACFS.

‘The purpose of the visit was to facilitate academic exchange within a transdisciplinary context,’ said Chitja.  ‘The five days of field work followed by extensive and in-depth analysis have crystalized the merging issues, which will allow for a re-envisioning of the small-scale farmer in rural farming communities. This study is positioned to develop a range of policy recommendations and practical applications on appropriate technologies which will be taken forward at the different levels.’


author email : chitjaj@ukzn.ac.za

STAFF AND STUDENTS ENCOURAGED TO SAVE ENERGY

STAFF AND STUDENTS ENCOURAGED TO SAVE ENERGY

Eskom’s energy saving initiative, 49m, has visited UKZN campuses to encourage staff and students to save energy at Residences, in offices and in their homes.

According to 49m, the initiative aims to inspire and rally all South Africans behind a common goal - save electricity and create a better economic, social and environmental future for all. The initiative was named after South Africa’s population figure at the time of the campaign’s launch.

‘Essentially, electricity cannot be stored, and at the moment the needs of our thriving country are putting our resources under strain. This is why we need to save electricity wherever we can,’ said a 49m spokesperson.

‘You may not realise it, but we're all connected, and by acting together we can achieve amazing things. If we all reduced our energy usage by just 10 percent it would be as effective as building a brand new power station. That’s the power of 49M, that’s the power of you.

‘If we all constantly ask ourselves - at work or at home - how we can cut back, then we will succeed. It’s about changing our habits ever so slightly, and the good news is that there are a lot of little things that you can do to make a huge difference.

‘Electricity is a valuable and rare resource that allows government to build and run the services we expect. It allows industry to compete and prosper. For every individual it provides the safety of light, the opportunity to learn and the benefits of 21st century health care – among many other things we take for granted,’ said the spokesperson.

‘It is unthinkable that we should allow our supply of precious energy to be drained dry.

‘As both government and Eskom are taking every possible step to do their bit, we are calling on every South African to help out. When it comes to saving electricity, everyone wins, so there is no excuse not to do it.’

Students had the opportunity to make a pledge to save electricity and were shown how important it is to use solar panels for their computers and entertainment needs. Local celebrities were available to speak to the students and give advice on the importance of saving energy.

Some of the tips shared with the students include switching off geysers between 9am and 5pm, removing the cellphone charger off the wall when charging is complete, switching off the TV at the wall plug, boiling just enough water for a cup of tea and using as much daylight as possible.

FACT BOX

South Africa produces around 45 percent of all Africa’s electricity and since electricity fuels progress, the country can be proud of this.

However, there are drawbacks. As 90 percent of our electricity is still coal generated, SA has sadly become a major per capita atmospheric polluter. About 200 megatons of carbon dioxide are emitted each year.It is clear cleaner solutions are needed.

Eskom is currently exploring many different ways of generating electricity including solar power, wind turbines and tidal power. But for now, coal is the most cost-effective way for South Africa to generate power.

This is why Eskom have embarked on a massive building programme to add some 12000MW to its capacity by 2019. However, power supply from the two new coal-fired stations - Medupi and Kusile - only started in 2012 and will be 100 percent available in 2019.

In the interim we face a dilemma. There is no realistic way to store large quantities of electricity, so the amount being fed into the grid must always match what the customers are taking out. This varies not just from day to day, but from minute to minute.

As the demand increases, more stations must be brought into play. This is planned in advance because starting-up and shutting-down operations are slow and complicated. Additionally, some stations generate electricity more cheaply than others.

The main peaks usually occur at about 6am and lasts until about midday. A second peak period is usually from about 5pm until 9pm. The morning demand is due to many main industries such as mining, iron and steel smelters and railway networks starting up operations.

At these peak times the grid is put under severe strain. This is when the importance of the 49M initiative is evident. When the whole country works together, everyone wins. (www.49m.co.za)

With March being the Energy Efficiency Month, students are encouraged to save energy and to look out for UKZN’s upcoming energy saving initiatives.


author email : shabangus@ukzn.ac.za

THE ONE BILLION RISING CAMPAIGN

THE ONE BILLION RISING CAMPAIGN

UKZN staff and students took to the streets of Durban and Pietermaritzburg on Valentine’s Day as part of the global One Billion Rising Campaign which seeks to express outrage about gender-based violence.

Working with Diakonia in Durban to draw attention to the rising spate of attacks on women and girls, activities including speeches / pledges by various officials and activists and performances by artists including Ewok were held at the Durban Magistrate’s Court.

Dr Lubna Nadvi, an academic whose areas of specialisation include civil society, feminism and international relations, said: ‘With the spate of gruesome rape cases that have been taking place, it is critical that all sectors of society including us academics become more actively involved in doing more to stop this violence. One in three of us women on the planet are at risk of becoming a victim of sexual violence / abuse.’

Nadvi represented UKZN at the Magistrate’s Court event, and also spoke in her capacity as the Chair of the Advice Desk for the Abused, a human rights NGO, with head offices at UKZN’s Westville campus. ‘Anene Booysen’s rape and murder has got to wake us up  . . . even those of us who have been doing this work for years,’ said Nadvi.

Nadvi - together with other colleagues - plans to roll-out initiatives at the University in the coming months geared at addressing gender-based violence.

‘Our voice at UKN is very muted around gender justice and gender-based violence  issues and we need to find a way to actually re-energise the space, using existing academic structures, seminar spaces etc,’ she added.

‘The least we can do is raise awareness and keep this issue on our academic radar, through the various academic / intellectual spaces we have access to.’

Meanwhile, sparked by Jane Quin announcing a One Billion Rising event on the Pietermaritzburg campus, a last minute wildfire network of staff and students determined to take a stand against violence against women gathered together for a participatory consciousness raising session and a One Billion Rising dance on the Library lawns.

Quin acknowledged the particular efforts of Lucky Maluleke, Bambi Ogram, Fiona Jackson with her media students, Roberto Hemero and Saaj Sader who helped make it happen, as well as all the participating staff and students who helped make the day a success.

The Flatfoot Dance Company, based on Howard College campus, also marked the occasion with their arts community based programmes at Umlazi’s M-Section.

author email : captainr@ukzn.ac.za

FRENCH ACADEMICS VISIT UKZN

FRENCH ACADEMICS VISIT UKZN

Two visiting French academics, Professor Philip Whyte and Dr Guillaume Cingal of the University of Tours, addressed staff and students at a UKZN seminar at the Centre for African Literary Studies (CALS) recently.

CALS held an informal lunch for the two visitors who were invited by Professor Bernard DeMeyer of French Studies and also a member of CALS Board.

The main purpose of the visit was to discuss the partnership between the two institutions which involves staff and student exchange and joint research among other co-operation and thus the visitors met the French discipline on the Pietermaritzburg campus, the English Discipline, International Relations and the Dean and Head of the School of Arts, Professor N Zulu. 

They also held a meeting with two University of Tours exchange students who are at UKZN this semester.

Informal discussion at the seminar included ideas on the sort of student, staff and research exchanges that could be arranged in future between UKZN and the University of Tours involving English literary studies.

Whyte co-ordinates the MA programme at the University of Tours and his field of specialisation is postcolonial theory and literature in West Africa. He has published a book on Ayi Kwei Armah and about 20 articles on African writers, Ben Okri of Nigeria, Kojo Laing of Ghana, Syl Cheney Coker of Sierra Leone, Syl Bendele-Thomas of Nigeria, Abdulrazak Gurnah of Zanzibar and Kofi Awoonor of Ghana.

Cingal is the co-ordinator of thirs-year English studies and PGCE (English). His fields of specialisation are postcolonial literatures, semiotics and translation studies

In his presentation Whyte gave an overview of the history of West African writing in English while Cingal analysed two South African poems, including Jeremy Cronin’s poem, Who. He emphasised the need to provide the historical and social contexts to poems when teaching them to French students.

The French visitors were very impressed by the collection of books at CALS, especially the Onitsha market literature, and the newly archived unpublished materials. They found several items they had previously been unable to locate.

‘Each shelf cries out for a conference about its holdings,’ said Dr Cingal. ‘Future research exchanges will certainly provide the opportunity to take this challenge further.’


author email : Stilwell@ukzn.ac.za

NEW CTPS STRUCTURED DEGREE FOR POSTGRADUATE STUDENTS

NEW CTPS STRUCTURED DEGREE FOR POSTGRADUATE STUDENTS

The Conflict Transformation and Peace Studies (CTPS) Programme, located within the School of Social Sciences, is offering a structured degree programme to Honours, Masters and PhD level students on both the Howard College (Durban) and Pietermaritzburg campuses.

Honours level modules include the Theory and Practice of Conflict Transformation, Issues and Themes in Peace Studies as well as modules on Ethics, Research Methodology and Post-Conflict recovery.

Masters modules include Advanced Themes in Conflict Transformation, Theory and Practice of Non-Violence, Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, African Approaches to Conflict Transformation, Research Design and Restorative Justice.

Lecturer for the CTPS programme, Dr Alain Tschudin, said: ‘Besides rigorous theory, an increasingly applied focus enables prospective graduates to prepare for careers in diplomacy, government, the public service, NGOs and think-tanks alike.

‘Research topics at Masters and Doctoral levels currently include analyses of instability in the Congo, the government of national unity in Zimbabwe, media involvement in the Arab Spring, private security company regulation in South Africa and external factors in the Sri Lankan ethnic conflict.’

He further added that CTPS enjoyed collaborative research and community engagement with local and foreign partners in academia, government, the NGO and public sectors.

‘Applied research projects are currently running in rural KwaZulu-Natal (community development, democratisation and applied leadership), the Western Cape (child socialisation and teenage well-being) and in southern Spain, as a replication of the dialogics and anti-xenophobia project conducted in Durban with Congolese refugees and Zulu street traders,’ said Tschudin.

Applications are currently open for Honours, Masters and PhD students who wish to pursue a degree programme in this field in 2013. For an application form contact the postgraduate administrator Mr Nqobizizwe Memela at: Memela@ukzn.ac.za 

Places are also open in specific modules in this programme for students wishing to enrol for one or more elective modules.

author email : Mungroo@ukzn.ac.za

ROOTING FOR EXCELLENCE IN THE HEALTH SCIENCES

ROOTING FOR EXCELLENCE IN THE HEALTH SCIENCES

In an effort to create a wider understanding of the role of the College of Health Sciences Professional Service’s Unit, a road show was recently organised for all staff in the College.  

Held on the three campuses on which the College is based, staff heard presentations on the professional services unit from the perspective of human resources, student support services, finance, student academic services, public relations, the teaching and learning office as well as the research office. This educational road show was proclaimed a success by staff that attended and is set to become an annual event in the College.

Professor Fanie Botha, Director for College Professional Services (CPS), said it was important for the Schools to know how well suited the College Professional Services Office was to providing the necessary support structures for its optimal functioning.  Botha reaffirmed the College’s mission to excel in student-centred and research-led teaching and learning, research that was innovative and socially-responsible, and evidence-based practice, service and community engagement. He said the CPS is committed to the College’s mission and to supporting its academic sector to achieve its goals.  This can be achieved by working together as a consolidated team, driven by the vision and goals of the College.

Botha reintroduced Ms Ranitha Ramdeyal, Manager for College Academic Services; Mrs Farhana Moodley, Manager for College Finance; Mrs Nadia Lasich, Manager for College Human Resources; Ms MaryAnn Francis, Manager for College Public Relations; Dr Saloschini Pillay, Manager for Student Support Services; College Dean: Teaching and Learning, Professor Ntombifikile Mtshali and College Dean: Research, Professor Moses Chimbari.

Each Manager and Dean unpacked how their portfolio was designed to support the Schools; highlighting the strong points and mentioning where there was room for improvement. 

Botha said it was important to note that, although each of these portfolios had direct reporting lines to the College, there was also a “dotted line” responsibility to the relevant support sector Executive for the expert co-ordination of the services and the professional development of staff.

Professor Fanie Botha ended the road show by saying he hoped staff members maintained the spirit of being “awesome” which was spread during the College’s Power Lunch presentations delivered by one of the world’s leading authorities on mind power and personal mastery, Mr Robin Banks in 2012. Botha reassured staff that this spirit of awesomeness will continue into 2013 with an exciting line up of events and activities.


author email : Memelal@ukzn.ac.za

INFO4AFRICA LEARNERSHIP PROGRAMME UNDERWAY

INFO4AFRICA LEARNERSHIP PROGRAMME UNDERWAY

Info4africa, a self-funded centre attached to the School of Applied Human Sciences within the College of Humanities, has given learnership posts to three deserving people.

The learnership candidates are currently performing data-capture work in the Info4africa data collection office to develop skills in the field of health, wellbeing and development.

Candidates were sourced for the learnership posts through Joblinx - a unique candidate management and job linkage portal, developed by The Development House. It assists unemployed youth and other entry level, unskilled, semi-skilled and skilled work seekers.

‘They underwent a significant amount of on the job training and mentorship before being given the opportunity to earn a small salary and commence employment,’ said Info4africa’s Director, Mrs Deborah Heustice.

According to one of the candidates, Ms Sibongile Mkhize, working at Info4africa taught her a variety of communication skills. ‘I have learnt about being patient with people we call.  They are often busy making it hard for them to find time to update their organisation’s records with us.

‘We do our best to make this update process efficient and enjoyable. I find that I have gained insights that are valuable and find this part of my work very interesting.’

The other candidates, Ms Zanele Majozi and Mr Luyanda Manyoni, said communication, team work and being able to meet deadlines were skills that they had developed.

‘I definitely recommend Info4africa’s learnership programme because it would assist anyone with office and communication training,’ said Majozi.

‘Because we are an organisation that works with people and for people, we are glad we have these learnership candidates on board.  They are individuals committed to a common goal – creating a brighter future for their families and contributing positively to their communities,’ said Heustice.

‘We are delighted to have been able to graduate them after a two month learnership to contract employment within our organisation. They are well trained, have a great attitude towards work and always go the extra mile to meet our data collection deadlines.’ 


author email : Mungroo@ukzn.ac.za

REFERENCING SIMPLIFIED IN HEALTH SCIENCES

REFERENCING SIMPLIFIED IN HEALTH SCIENCES

Staff and postgraduate students who recently attended a workshop offered by the College of Health Sciences’ Women in Leadership and Leverage (WILL) Committee said they were more confident about managing references and create bibliographies after being guided through a step-by-step process on the use of the academic software programme, EndNote.

The workshop was conducted by UKZN’s academic computing consultant, Mr Hilary Reynolds, who explained that the programme enabled academics to move easily through the research process with flexible tools for searching, organising and sharing the research, creating a bibliography and writing the papers.

While postgraduate students benefited from the session’s tips on formulating a thesis, the workshop also equipped participants on citing and referencing appropriately in academic writing.

Dr Margaret Matthews, Clinical Skills Co-ordinator for Undergraduate Education in the MBChB programme and a participant at the workshop, said such workshops were vital for anybody involved with postgraduate work. She said the workshop made the software “user-friendly” and it was ideal for both young and seasoned researchers.

EndNote is available as a referencing tool under UKZN Libraries and users may download the software from the ICT software library :http://ics.ukzn.ac.za/softwaredownloads.aspx


author email : Memelal@ukzn.ac.za

STUDENTS REMINDED TO ABSTAIN AND CONDOMISE

STUDENTS REMINDED TO ABSTAIN AND CONDOMISE

UKZN's Aids Programme hosted an STI/Condom and Pregnancy Prevention Awareness event at the Howard College campus to coincide with International Condom Day on February 15.

The aim of the function was to educate, raise awareness, promote delayed sexual debut, increase the knowledge of STI symptoms and distribute condoms to staff and students.

The event was held in partnership with other external stakeholders including the Campus Health Clinic, ICAP, TB/HIV Care Association, SANCA, the KZN Department of Health, the Durban Lesbian and Gay Community Heath Centre, Ithembalabantu Clinic, Brothers for Life and a lot more.

Guest speaker, Pastor A. Mdabe from the Department of Health, reminded students about the ABC of abstaining, being faithful and always using a condom. He reminded them - with special reference to men - that it was not always the responsibility of women to keep condoms.

Mdabe spoke at length about what condoms could prevent including STIs and unwanted pregnancies and reminded the audience about the help available to HIV positive people as well as  methods to prevent a child of a pregnant woman in becoming infected.

The Durban Lesbian and Gay Community Heath Centre showed students the different types of condoms available. Counselling and Testing sites were available for staff and students who wanted to test.

The audience were reminded to contact CHASU at 031 260 8661 for further queries related to HIV and AIDS within the university environment.


author email : shabangus@ukzn.ac.za