The first Integrated Maritime Conference, appropriately held at sea on board the MSC Sinfonia as she voyaged between Durban and Mozambique, brought the province one step closer to developing a strategy to support and develop KwaZulu-Natal’s maritime industry.

Representing UKZN at the conference, held recently, was Dr Mihalis Chasomeris of the Graduate School of Business and Leadership. Other organisations partnering in the endeavour included the eThekwini Maritime Cluster (EMC); the Department of Economic Development and Tourism (DEDT); the KwaZulu-Natal Planning Commission; the eThekwini Municipality; the South African Maritime Safety Authority; and Transnet.

Hosting a maritime conference at sea provided delegates with first-hand experience of the cruise industry, one of the many areas within the maritime industry which is recognised as having significant development potential.

The theme of the conference was “Building a Thriving Maritime Industry for KwaZulu-Natal”.  The province is working on establishing a KwaZulu-Natal Integrated Maritime Strategy which will be a mechanism to support and develop the maritime industry and related sectors. The purpose of the conference was to provide a final opportunity for delegates to contribute towards the framework of this strategy and its implementation plan. 

According to the EMC, delegate inputs will be incorporated into a consolidated final strategy that will be tabled before the provincial cabinet in April. This process will culminate in the establishment of a “special purpose vehicle” which will drive the implantation of the KwaZulu-Natal Integrated Maritime Strategy.

Chasomeris said the conference was a good opportunity to network and discuss local maritime issues. However, he said it was unfortunate that the nature, authority and funding of the “special purpose vehicle” had still not been determined. ‘It is important to decide who will implement this proposed strategy,’ he said. ‘The proposed objectives in the strategy are largely structured around current issues facing the maritime and logistics industry. Several good proposals and objectives are identified in the strategy. Going forward, however, I would recommend incorporating a systems thinking approach to understanding the issues raised and shaping the proposed strategy.’

Amongst the keynote speakers were KwaZulu-Natal Premier Dr Zweli Mkhize, and the Department of Economic Development and Tourism MEC Michael Mabuyakhulu. Both speakers indicated they were eager to see the maritime sector grow and make a further contribution to the economy.

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Dr Otto Scharmer, a leading academic from the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the United States, and the originator of the Theory U model of leadership and social transformation, expressed great excitement when he heard that UKZN’s Dr Rudi Kimmie has completed a world-first study on Theory U as a model for academic development within South African Higher Education.

In an email to Professor Kriben Pillay (Kimmie’s Supervisor), Scharmer said: ‘It’s fabulous, congratulations.’ Dr Scharmer also asked for permission to put up Kimmie’s thesis abstract on his website.

Kimmie, who is the Deputy Head of the UNITE programme which provides access support for disadvantaged students doing Engineering, is also a consultant for special projects at the UKZN Foundation.

He described the PhD journey in the Graduate School of Business and Leadership as a personally and professionally enriching experience. ‘Besides the academic advantages accruing from research and knowledge production to address an identified question, a more profound benefit was at the personal level: finding the capacity for deep, reflective dialogue, self-discovery, developing the intellectual stamina for intensive information processing and acquiring the tools to dialogue and integrate masses of information with one’s own corpus of knowledge.’

Under the guidance of Pillay, Kimmie said he was not only able to navigate the complexities of a doctoral thesis whilst adhering to the rigour of generally acceptable scholarly benchmarks, but he was able to rekindle his quest for inquiry, information sharing and innovative thinking.

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Mr Udo Richard Franz Averweg, an Honorary Research Fellow in the Graduate School of Business and Leadership, had his first book – Decision-Making Support Systems: Theory and Practice – published recently.

Mr Averweg is employed as an Information Technology (IT) Project Manager at eThekwini Municipality, Durban, South Africa. He entered the IT industry in 1979 and holds a Masters Technology degree in Information Technology (cum laude), a second Masters degree in Science from the University of Natal, and a third Masters degree in Commerce from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. As an IT practitioner, he is a registered professional member of the Computer Society of South Africa.

He has authored and co-authored more than 150 research outputs (80 being peer-reviewed). Some research outputs have been delivered at local conferences, while some have been published in accredited peer-reviewed journals, and others have appeared as chapters in books. Some research findings have been presented at international conferences on all five continents.

In the book’s acknowledgements, Averweg writes: ‘I thank Professor Kriben Pillay and his colleagues from the Graduate School of Business & Leadership, College of Law and Management Studies, for their encouragement to undertake this project.’

He also notes that with evolving decision-making technologies in Information Systems, he hopes that the book presents a launch vehicle for ‘exciting future professional practitioner work in the IS discipline. The challenges in managing decision-making support systems is met by practitioner techniques and emerging technologies.’  

The book contains highly appreciative endorsements by way of a foreword and an introduction by leading academic specialists in the field - Professors Geoff Erwin and Sam Lubbe, respectively.

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‘The recent public outcry over the brutal rapes and murders in New Delhi, India, and in the Western Cape, South Africa, has rudely awakened civil society from apathy to shock about what is regarded as a common violent act against women and children, but is often ignored.’

These were the words of Dr Kantharuben Naidoo, Principal Specialist and Acting Head of the Discipline of Family Medicine at UKZN, who wrote an editorial published in the April volume of the South African Medical Journal, calling on society and especially the medical profession to play its rightful role in protecting women and children.

The article cited the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Dr Navanethem Pillay, who recently made an impassioned plea to all members of civil society in South Africa, including key role-players such as members of the criminal justice and healthcare systems, to be vigilant and mindful of their key responsibilities in protecting women and children against violence.

Passionate about the emergency care of rape survivors, Naidoo holds a Masters degree in Medical Law and is a member of UKZN’S Bioethics Research Ethics Committee. He has worked in crisis centres at the Addington and Prince Mshiyeni Memorial hospitals as well as the Chatsworth and Pinetown District Surgeon’s Office spanning a period of 10 years.

Naidoo said rape is one of the most devastating of personal traumas. “Victims” lives have been shattered and sometimes lost, and their psychological and physical privacy invaded.’

He said survivors experience feelings of shock, disbelief, numbness, fear, anger, guilt, self-blame, sadness and sometimes elation. They often suffer behavioural changes such as withdrawal, sleep disturbances, hypervigilance, mood swings and poor concentration. Lifestyle changes and avoidance are common. ‘The emotional scars take months, and sometimes years, to heal,’ he said.

South Africa has one of the highest incidences of rape in the world. In 2009, 68 332 cases of rape were reported to the South African Police Services and SAPS statistics suggest that someone is raped every 35 seconds. However, according to the National Institute for Crime Prevention and Rehabilitation only one in 20 rape cases is reported to the SAPS. ‘Barriers to reporting the crime of sexual assault are a lack of faith in the criminal justice system and the medical services, and the secondary trauma sometimes suffered by survivors at the hands of the SAPS and health services,’ said Naidoo.

‘My experience working in the four rape crisis centres has shown that despite systematic reforms in health policy, there has been no significant change in the quality of services offered to rape survivors outside of these crisis centres, and that healthcare facilities in the Durban region do not provide a dedicated service to survivors of rape.’

He said rape is a violent crime and must be regarded as a medical emergency. ‘Survivors are often physically assaulted, with resultant head injuries, fractures, drug intoxication, penetrating organ injuries, etc.’

Naidoo said doctors at primary healthcare level are reluctant to engage in medico-legal work owing to lack of expertise and training and the time constraints imposed by an already high workload. ‘Yet medical personnel have a statutory duty to provide emergency care to rape survivors, as required by the Constitution and the National Health Act and an ethical duty of care stipulated by the Health Professions Council of South Africa.’

Naidoo suggested that crisis centres should be established as a priority at all district hospitals to serve as the first port of call for survivors of sexual assault.

‘Such facilities must be purpose-designed to cater for the victims of sexual assault, including child sex abuse, and ensure privacy and confidentiality. They must operate on a 24-hour basis as one-stop multidisciplinary services to offer the victim(s) medical care by competent, trained and empathic medical and nursing staff, an SAPS desk for reporting the assault, and wash facilities. Psychological and social support should be available, at least on a referral basis.’

There is also a need for members of the South African criminal justice system and the medical profession to work hand-in-hand with members of civil society to help rape survivors and to ensure criminal conviction of perpetrators through the judicious use of the biological evidence collection kits, he said.

Naidoo said an effective medico-legal system is needed if South Africa is to fulfil its responsibilities to protect the human rights of its women and children under international law. 

‘Prevention of sexual violence requires responses that extend well beyond, but clearly encompass, the health sector. Health professionals have a crucial role to play in ensuring that health services meet the needs of the survivor.’

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The Discipline of Biokinetics, Exercise and Leisure Sciences is home to six new microdialysis pumps each valued at close to R40,000 and anticipated to increase the research output of staff and students in the Discipline.

The portable and easy-to-use pumps make microdialysis – the technique used to analyse and determine the chemical components of the extracellular fluid in tissues – a minimally invasive, less time consuming and cost effective procedure for researchers in the field.

The Discipline recently hosted Professor Robert Hickner, Director of the PhD programme in Bioenergetics and Exercise Science at the East Carolina University’s Department of Kinesiology and Co-Director of Research for the Center for Health Disparities Research, who helped set up the microdialysis procedure.

During his 10-day visit, Hickner spent time with staff and postgraduate students who will use the procedure to conduct their research. He also delivered a lecture titled “Fat Metabolism and Muscle Blood Flow as Monitored with Microdialysis”, which focused on the use of microdialysis to monitor lipolysis (the hydrolysis of fats into fatty acids and glycerol) in comparative studies between lean and obese individuals, the physically trained as opposed to the untrained, and old people versus young.

Using the microdialysis procedure, Hickner was able to conclude that lipolysis can be regulated in many ways and that lipolysis is not the same in all fat deposits and is increased during endurance exercise and strength training - lower per kilogramme fat mass in obese people, higher in the trained than untrained individuals - and that fat oxidation is increased during endurance exercise and strength training. He said fat is oxidised in the muscle and in the liver and, under certain circumstances, fat oxidation is probably limited by lipolysis.

Hickner said it was great that sport scientists can use the microdialysis procedure to monitor the blood sugar levels and lactates in people during their normal daily activities, including during exercise. With respect to monitoring the circulation, his research has also found that endothelial function and microvascular blood flow is lower in older people than younger, that exercise training can improve microvascular function in young people and that exercise training may increase endothelial nitric oxide synthase and prostaglandin response to exercise in young people.

‘With microdialysis you can even send drugs though the probe, reaching the target tissue directly and not affecting the rest of the body,’ he said.

Ms Jolene Mortimer is one of the PhD candidates at UKZN who will be using the microdialysis procedure in her study titled “Application of Microdialysis in Examining the Effect of Physical Activity on the Lipolytic, Glycolytic and Adipokine Profiles of Overweight and Normal Weight South African Young Adults”.

Mortimer said obese, sedentary adults are more prone to hyperinsulinemia, poor blood glucose profile, lower rates of adipose tissue lipolysis, as well as blood flow per unit of fat mass. ‘There is evidence of reduced in vivo whole-body lipolysis and altered lipolytic responses in African-American compared to Caucasian individuals. Research examining possible similar ethnic differences in the young South African adult population, however, is limited.’

Professor Andrew McKune, Associate Professor in the Discipline, said: ‘The real advantage of the microdialysis pump is that it is mobile so it can be used in different settings ... Previously researchers in the Discipline could only draw blood samples. Now we can focus particularly on the tissues we are interested in. The pumps will put the Discipline on the map in terms of the research that we can do.’

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The College of Health Sciences (CHS) is serious about recognising research excellence. This was highlighted at a recent research symposium held in honour of four of the College’s leading researchers – two of whom are to receive University Fellowships at the 2013 Graduation ceremonies, and two who gained recognition in 2012 as top UKZN researchers.

The incoming Fellows for 2013 are Professor Leana Uys, former Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the CHS from 2001 to 2010, and Professor Marie-Louise Newell, Director of the Wellcome Trust-funded Africa Centre for Health and Population Studies which continues to produce groundbreaking HIV research in northern KwaZulu-Natal.

Both researchers delivered insightful presentations on their journey to becoming prolific researchers.

Also making presentations were Professor William Bishai, Director of the KwaZulu-Natal Research Institute for Tuberculosis and HIV (K-RITH) who was awarded an A-rating by the National Research Foundation in 2012, and Professor Thavi Govender who was acknowledged last year for publishing his 100th Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) Recognised Publication.

The presenters were congratulated by Professor Rob Slotow, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the CHS. The audience consisted of postgraduate students, academics, as well as the Deans and Heads of Schools in the College.

Professor Moses Chimbari, the recently-appointed College Dean of Research, delivered the symposium’s first presentation, reflecting on various studies he conducted with researchers in Botswana and Zimbabwe using an ‘ecohealth approach’ to investigate and solve the challenges of agriculture, health care, water scarcity and conflict.

Chimbari said: ‘Africa is a continent with serious challenges and meagre research, and the ecohealth approach seeks to find the problem and solve it through its six pillars: transdisciplinarity, community participation, gender equity, systems thinking, sustainability and moving from knowledge to action.’

Chimbari said cholera, malaria, HIV, schistosomiasis and TB are still the most prevalent diseases in Africa, and collaborative research from the continents’ health scientists was encouraged by the Ecohealth Network for East and Southern Africa (ECOHES), which he leads.

Efforts towards drug discovery in HIV and TB research were presented by Govender, currently a Principal Investigator in the Catalysis and Peptide Research Unit at UKZN, and Bishai who said there were only two ways of dealing with infectious diseases: either to prevent them, or diagnose and treat them. 

Newell’s presentation highlighted the Centre’s recent novel studies that were published in the leading scientific journal, Science. The studies demonstrated that the HIV epidemic could be reversed through increasing coverage of antiretroviral therapy (ART) and that in just a few years of widespread HIV treatment availability, adult life expectancy has increased by more than 11 years in rural KwaZulu-Natal.   

Uys’s contribution to the nursing profession and development of midwifery in Africa was articulated in some of her research conducted in nine African counties, both Anglophone and Francophone. A former Director of the World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre for Nursing and Midwifery Development, Uys said greater emphasis needs to be placed on training competent nurses and midwives across Africa in order to address the continent’s disease burden and to realise the Millennium Development Goals aimed at improving mother and child health. 

She said part of the problem is that midwifery is very poorly developed in most African countries and the disease burden reflects that ‘midwifery is a service that is absolutely necessary’. Uys said it was important to determine the scope of practice for nurses, especially those working with limited resources in the public sector.  ‘Healthcare still needs to be defined in the most effective and cost effective ways,’ she said.

Govender, who was lauded for reaching his 120th ISI Recognised Publication, said his unit has established an international network of researchers to focus on HIV and TB research over a five-year period.

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UKZN has graduated the province of KwaZulu-Natal’s first-generation of Physiotherapy Technicians as part of a joint venture with the Department of Health (DoH) and the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA), in recognition of the shortage of skilled healthcare workers in the country.

The University’s Discipline of Physiotherapy held a successful Graduation and Oath-Taking ceremony at which the 13 technicians were congratulated for their hard work and advised about the responsibility that comes with the new HPCSA-accredited certificate.

The graduates are based in various health districts in the province.

Professor Sabiha Essack, Dean and Head of the School of Health Sciences, said the graduates had gone through a rite of passage and were a significant part of the DoH’s 10-point strategic plan which incorporates the 20 priority areas of the outcome-based Medium Term Strategic Framework, as well as the Millennium Development Goals.

‘You are indeed poised to make a tangible contribution to your community. You have really been blessed with the ability to heal and I encourage you to use it wisely at your health centres and in the community.’

Dr Sonil Maharaj who heads the Discipline of Physiotherapy said the graduates had come a long way and were to be applauded for their endurance. This was reiterated by DoH representative, Mrs Lindiwe Ndlela, who said establishing the programme was not an easy task but was worth it at the end.

Ndlela said the graduates had reached a significant milestone in their lives that makes them shine ‘professionally, personally and socially’.

‘You are now professionals with a responsibility to render services to the community to the best of your ability.’ She said UKZN did a sterling job at driving the vision to produce these technicians that would contribute to the healthcare system and be recognised by the HPCSA. She congratulated staff members who supervised the graduates and international donors who made the programme possible.

The graduates also heard from Mrs Gugu Mkhize, retired Manager of the DoH’s Human Resources Division and key role-player behind the programme’s establishment. She said it was important to remember that nurses and physiotherapy technicians have a therapeutic touch – “a touch with empathy”.

Mkhize said she understood the challenges faced by the graduates when they re-entered Higher Education as mature students. She also lauded UKZN for its groundbreaking research and encouraged the DoH to continue collaborating with the University in order to ensure that the knowledge generated is implemented successfully in the country’s health system.

The new technicians were represented by Mrs Pricilla Mbense who said they would uphold the profession and honour the Hippocratic Oath taken on the day.

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I-UKZN kamuva nje iqoqele ndawonye abafundi abalinganiselwa ekhulwii-100 ohlelweni olubizwa nge-PROTEC (Programme for Technological Careers)ngenhloso yokuzobacija babagqugquzele ekutheni baqonde kahle mayelana neSayensi yezemvelo- Fiziksi , ngethemba lokuthi abany’abafundi bazoba nogqozi lwalesi sifundo.

Isazimfundo e-UKZN kwiSikole sezithako zemvelo kanye neSayensi yezemvelo, kanye noSihlalo we-South African Research kwi-Quantum Information Processing and Communication, uSolwazi  Francesco Petruccione, ubengomunye wabagqugquzeli abaqavile kulolu hambo. Oka-Petruccione ubeke wathi, ithuba lokuhlangana liholele ekutheni lowo omele i-PROTEC afake isicelo sokuvakashela e-UKZN ukuzofunda kabanzi mayelana nezeSayensi. Ufakw’ isandla uDkt Zunckel, othule inkulumo kubafundi mayelana ne-Square Kilometer Array, CERN (i-European Organisation for Nuclear Research)lowo oyingqalabutho uDkt Sahal Yacoob, uhlinzeke ngenkulumo eyisethulo emayelana neSayensi yezemvelo ebizwa phecelezi- CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, kanye no Dkt Tanja Reinhardt, ongumdidiyeli wesikhungo semfundo yeSayensi kanye nobuChwepheshe.

Usuku luphethe ngombukiso odumile kaDkt Megandhren, ngaphambi kokuthi abafundi bavunyelwe ukuthi bawash’amehlo ngezinto ezingaphakathi kwiskhungo baphinde bafunde kabanzi ku-Reinhardt kanye nalowo ovele ehhovisi leSayensi, uMnu Asok Rajh.

Abafundi abakulolu hlelo lwe-PROTEC baqhamuka ikakhulukazi ezindaweni  ezikhahlamezekile. Uhlelo luqonde ukubacija bayilungele impilo yase Nyuvesi, ngokuthi

lubahlinzeke ngemfundo nangezifundo ezithe xaxa zezibalo kanye nesayensi. Izivakashi ziluthokozele kakhulu usuku lwabo, bajabula kakhulu ngemikhakha kanye nemisebenzi yesayensi abayenzayo.  Oka-Petruccione ubonge igalelo lesikhungo i-National Institute for Theoretical Physics ngohlelo losuku.

Click here for English version

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Dr Tanja Reinhardt of the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science scooped an award for the “best workshop presenter” at this year’s SciFest Africa for her Dinosaur Diorama workshops which were aimed at giving learners an idea of the landscapes inhabited by now-extinct animals.

SciFest Africa is held annually in March in Grahamstown and is aimed at promoting the uptake of science, technology, mathematics and engineering careers amongst primary and secondary learners in South Africa. UKZN has been a regular participant since 2005, with Reinhardt, the College’s Science and Technology Education Centre Co-ordinator, being one of the main co-ordinators of the Institution’s input.

Reinhardt said that she was very pleased at her award for best presentation. She explained that the panel of judges was anonymous, and sat in on the various workshops. She said it was particularly rewarding to be recognised by her peers.

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A senior academic in the School of Management, Information Technology and Governance, Professor Purshottama Reddy, attended a workshop in Luanda, Angola aimed at development in the SADC region.

The workshop titled “Local Government and Local Development in SADC” was a joint initiative of the Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF), United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Delegates were hosted jointly by the Mozambican Minister of State Administration and Angolan Minister of Territorial Administration.

The meeting was a gathering of ministers, permanent secretaries, directors of local government, secretary-generals of local government associations and representatives of local government in Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Participants also included the AU’s All Africa Ministerial Conference on Decentralisation and Local Development (AMCOD) and Southern Africa Regional Organisation of the United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (SARO-UCLGA), as well as representatives of universities and training institutions.

The meeting discussed the role of local government in promoting development in the region and the importance of engagement with SADC countries. More specifically, it sought to agree on the regional development priorities for local government and development to inform programming and resource mobilisation in the region. 

Core issues that came under discussion included: the role of local government in the SADC region; the role of SADC in promoting local government policy dialogue and local development and programmatic priorities.

Reddy served as a discussant for a paper titled, ‘Promoting Sustainable Local Development through Local Governments in the SADC Region: Towards Closer Regional Co-operation and Integration’. He highlighted good practices in relation to decentralisation, gaps in government “mandates” and “service delivery”, the need for political commitment, the role of local government in the localisation of the MDGs, the inclusion of local government in SADC policy and programming, the need for international organisations like the CLGF, UNCDF and UNDP to provide guidance, direction and technical support, political clout and credibility, and the importance of academia and research organisations in knowledge production and dissemination of information in the region.

According to Reddy the workshop concluded with a call for a local government desk to be established to monitor and track SADC policy development and provide a platform for local government input into SADC processes.

‘Participants acknowledged the role of academic and training institutions, recognised the value of research and noted the limited availability of action-based research on local government in the region,’ said Reddy.

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An expert in sustainable development and social responsibility, Ms Leda Stott from the EOI Business School in Madrid, Spain, was hosted by the Graduate School of Business and Leadership (GSB&L) recently for a five-day scholarly visit that added insight to local economic development.

Stott, the Director of International Masters in Sustainable Development and Corporate Responsibility at the EOI Business School in Madrid, Spain, presented a lecture titled “Bringing the Marginalised into Development Initiatives” ­ to several sectors of the University community, including local economic development (LED) practitioners, young researchers in the LED Unit, academics, MBA students and students in the Discipline of Entrepreneurship.

Stott’s visit was significant on another level: it was aimed at considering a collaborative partnership between the GSB&L and the EOI Business School in Madrid. 

Mr Stan Hardman, a Senior Lecturer in the GSB&L and UKZN’s LED Co-ordinator, said the LED Unit would like to form a link with the EOI Business School in Spain aimed at developing its local LED programme. He said a collaborative venture between UKZN and the Spanish institution would enable engagement among staff and students at both the institutions on local economic development programmes.

Stott, who conducts research on sustainable development, partnerships and the integration of marginalised groups in development initiatives in Latin America Africa and Europe, presented a series of interactive lectures during her visit to UKZN.

In her first lecture Stott touched on the current trends in corporate social responsibility (CSR) adopted by businesses; the role of local government in regional development initiatives; partnerships and the significance of entrepreneurship in development.

She said in the past businesses tended to undertake CSR initiatives without the full participation of beneficiaries. A current trend in CSR, according to Stott, is making target groups and communities affected by CSR-related development part and parcel of the initiative.

On the issue of the significance of partnerships in development, Stott said: ‘They’re interesting and difficult. It’s useful for development but not always the right tool to use. It cannot be the panacea to all development initiatives.’

She stressed the importance of development agencies, the private sector and civil society organisations engaging with government in order to work towards local and regional economic development. 

Concerning the role of entrepreneurship in development, Stott said it was important to consider the lifespan of such enterprises and the fact that not everybody is necessarily an entrepreneur.

At the conclusion of the lecture, Hardman pointed to the need in South Africa for “open conversations” with government: ‘Our work with the Department (of Economic Development and Tourism) is to achieve the enablement of local economic development. Open conversations with government are important to achieve this purpose.’

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Professor Yousuf Vawda, Academic Leader: Public Law in the School of Law, was among the thousands of delegates at the World Social Forum in Tunisia recently.

Invited by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, he was a panellist in a discussion on ‘Health for All, or Profit for Few?’ The WSF, which saw the participation of over 30,000 social justice activists the world over, sought to create a platform for academics, activists and advocates for justice to engage on social justice issues affecting countries around the globe.

Vawda’s presentation addressed the huge disparities in the pricing of essential patented and generic drugs.

‘The insistence by multilateral bodies such as the World Trade Organisation that every country grant patent protection on new medicines has resulted in essential medicines not being affordable and accessible to the majority of the world’s mainly poor population. This has meant the declaration by international bodies like the United Nations - “supporting health for all” – is merely a “dream deferred”.’

According to Vawda, in addition to these inequitable trade rules, certain developing country governments also have to bear responsibility for the situation as they have not enacted the most health-promoting and access-friendly legislation in their countries. As part of his presentation, Vawda discussed advocacy strategies that developing countries could adopt to improve access to medicines.

He described the atmosphere at the Forum as both ‘celebratory and sombre’, with many delegations drawing attention to the continued lack of democracy and the gross violations of human rights in their countries.

Spokesperson for the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, Mr Henrik Meyer, said: ‘Health is the most essential human right. But at the same time, it is one of the most unequally distributed goods globally, because global trade regimes protect the interests of the pharmaceutical industry.  Some of the most important pharmaceutical drugs are too expensive for many people, especially from poorer countries.’

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The future of drug discovery rests on a close working relationship between academia and pharmaceutical companies, according to Professor Per Arvidsson who took the opportunity as guest lecturer at K-RITH recently to express the hope that academia would play a greater role in drug discovery in the near future.

Arvidsson, of Uppsala University in Sweden and Honorary Professor at UKZN, said more and more pharmaceutical companies are withdrawing from drug development due to the global economic meltdown. He described drug discovery and development as ‘time consuming, a team effort, and an expensive process’ that can take up to 12 years before the drug reaches the market.

‘We are still not getting much more to the patient than we did 60 years ago,’ he said regarding the introduction of new tested drugs.

‘The future of drug discovery rests on pharmaceutical companies working closely with academia. Most of the pharmaceutical companies have had serious failure in the third phase of the drug development process,’ he said.

Arvidsson explained that the research and development of drugs consists of various phases that involve preclinical studies in the discovery part of the process, and clinical studies in the development part of the process. Phase three, in particular, involves comparative studies on a large number of patients ranging from 500 to 5,000 depending on the study.

According to Arvidsson, chemists are everywhere in the discovery process, stressing that drug discovery is a team endeavour. ‘We typically work in a matrix organisation.’

An example of this was in the composition of the Candidate Drug Discovery Team (CDDT) which consists of the CDDT project leader, bioscience in vivo, bioscience in vitro, pharmaceutical and analytical research and development, process research and development, chemistry, global safety assessment, intellectual property, clinical development, drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics.

‘It’s a massive workflow to get all these people working towards the same goal.’

Arvidsson explained that the drug discovery process must comply with good laboratory practice, good manufacturing practice and good clinical practice.

Furthermore, ‘Testing drugs in vivo is strongly regulated,’ he said, highlighting that there was increased opportunity for academia to generate some of the most innovative drugs, given that the academic setting offers the advantage of being able to explore the biology of drug development in more depth.

‘My hope is that academia will play a larger role in drug discovery in the near future,’ he said.

Arvidsson is an Honorary Professor in the Discipline of Pharmacology and said he looked forward to conducting fractional research at UKZN. He is mainly involved in the discovery process of drugs and his current research is looking at the diversity of the sulfonimidanide functional group. Sulfonimidanides are medicines that prevent the growth of bacteria in the body.

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At 21, third-year UKZN Commerce student Lance Woolridge is the youngest South African to win an off-road national championship race. At the race that garnered him the accolade, the Donaldson Cross Country Championship held in Magaliesburg recently, Woolridge drove a Ford Ranger powered by a five-litre V8 Mustang engine in the premier super production class.

‘I won the prologue on the Friday and was very nervous for the Saturday as I had never started a race in the front,’ said Woolridge. ‘It was a long battle through the day, but in the end it was unbelievable. It was the first race for our new cars and to achieve a win first time out was phenomenal for us. The entire team was in tears of joy!’

Woolridge started racing when he was 16 and over the years made his way up through the classes. He is in his sixth full year of competing.

One of two factory drivers for the Ford South Africa Off-Road Racing team, Woolridge competes in Dakar-style races, with each race covering approximately 500 kilometres over two days. The terrain is very rough and challenging with emphasis on both speed and endurance.

‘Depending on the area, we race through veld, forests, sugar cane, mountains and passes, desert sand and rocks. The terrain is never smooth, which is why it is a difficult form of motorsport,’ said Woolridge. ‘You have to know the balance between speed and pushing the car too much and breaking it. The organisers try to keep an average speed of 70 km/h for an event although at times we reach speeds of 180 km/h off-road.’

Racing runs in Woolridge’s blood as his father Neil is also an accomplished racing driver having represented South Africa overseas, including at the Paris-Dakar Rally - twice. ‘My dad was racing before I was born and was a multiple South African champion. For me it was something I was born into.’

Woolridge described his father as one of his idols. ‘I am extremely lucky to have his support and commitment. He is always there to give me advice and steer me in the right direction.’

Woolridge attended Maritzburg College and achieved six distinctions in Matric. He was awarded two scholarships to the University of KwaZulu Natal, one for being placed in the top 1 percent of applicants.

When he’s off the track, Woolridge can be spotted attending lectures on the Westville campus, striking a balance between studying and racing. He plans to get his qualification under his belt and then launch into his motorsport career. ‘I am going to join my father in the family business with the knowledge of my degree behind me,’ he said.

Woolridge’s goal is to become the youngest South African champion and compete overseas. ‘My ultimate goal is to win the Dakar Rally,’ he said.

Motivated by the will and passion to win, he said he finds racing exhilarating. ‘Nothing matches the joy and feeling I get from racing,’ he said.

Starting off, Woolridge received an initial donation of a small buggy called a “cricket” and then was funded by his father. ‘For the past three years, I have been a factory driver for the Ford South Africa team and we have many sponsors: Ford South Africa, Castrol, Time Freight, Dynotherm, Motorvia, Tiger Wheel and Tyre and Sign Solutions.’

While Woolridge may be considered something of a speed-freak, safety behind the wheel is a top priority. ‘The car is built with a complete safety rollcage. On top of that we have proper racing seats, six-point racing harness seatbelts, a helmet with a HANS (Head And Neck Support) device like that used in Formula 1, and a fire retardant racing suit.’

In addition, there are always medical helicopters and ambulances on standby at the events with GPS tracking on each racing vehicle, all of which is compulsory in terms of the South African Off-Road Racing Commission.

Woolridge said he believes that drag-racing [on the streets] is a problem. ‘All young people, especially males, like speed. However, the streets are a very dangerous place to race. I’m very lucky in that I can do my racing off-road. My father has always said: ‘keep the racing for the track where you are all going in the same direction and you're in a car that is built to keep you safe if something goes wrong.’

Anyone interested in the sport can visit for information about races in the season. To support Lance Woolridge and his team, “like” the Ford South Africa page on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @Lance_W34

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Hard work, excellent results and early applications are the fundamental basic requirements to study in any discipline at UKZN’s College of Health Sciences (CHS).

This message was conveyed at a Health Career Day recently held on the Westville campus for 14 Grade 12 learners, most of whom were female, from rural and township schools in Northern KwaZulu-Natal. The learners had been identified as having the academic potential to pursue Science, Health and Engineering due to their marks in Pure Mathematics and Physical Science.

Their potential is being nurtured by the Programme for Technological Careers (Protec) – a national independent non-profit educational service provider that specialises in science, mathematics and technology education. The 14 learners are part of 120 Grade 10 to 12 learners currently in the programme.

Dr Frasia Oosthuizen, Academic Leader for Teaching and Leading in the School of Health Sciences, said the learners should continue monitoring their academic performance if they wish to pursue careers in the Health Sciences.

‘The College trains students to become the best health care professionals in South Africa and the wider African context through experiential learning in both the rural and urban health care setting,’ she said.

Oosthuizen highlighted the College’s cutting-edge research that informs evidence-based teaching and learning, arguing that student support and student-centeredness are the cornerstones of what makes UKZN “the place to be” for any Health Sciences student

Oosthuizen said the learners can look forward to exciting programmes which allow students to become innovative thinkers and participate in community outreach endeavours, in addition to developing a strong research profile – showcased annually at the College’s Pfizer Research Symposium for young scientists at UKZN and on a national level.

Oosthuizen’s address was supported by that of Mr Vijay Ramballie, Schools Liaison and Student Recruitment Officer for the Corporate Relations Division, who gave an overview of UKZN as a “world-class” and research-led institution of choice for staff and students. He said it was essential for the learners to aim for the best results in their matric year in order to be accepted to study at UKZN. ‘Meeting the minimum requirements for a programme you wish to apply for does not guarantee you enrolment. You have to score high marks!’ he said.

Ramballie emphasised the importance of observing the entrance requirements for each programme offered, closing dates for applications, finance, bursaries and scholarships, as well as the University’s pursuit of excellence in all its endeavours.

The learners took note when they were addressed by Ms Nelisiwe Dladla, a third-year student in the MBChB Programme, and Ms Londi Mansa, a third-year Audiology student from Hambanathi Township in Tongaat. Both students were supported by Protec and shared emotional testimonies on how hard work pays off, and why the CHS is best suited to supporting students who come from different backgrounds.

Ms Marion Takis, Manager of Protec Tongaat, said the learners had been looking forward to the Health Career Day and will continue to attend Maths and Physics classes every Saturday. This is administered for learners in the programme from Grade 10 onwards. ‘The programme is very strict with academic performance and attendance,’ she said.

Protec’s vision is to increase opportunities for young people to pursue technological careers in the Southern African region by effective provision of: learner excellence programmes in Maths, Science and Technology subjects; effective professional development and support programmes for educators in these subjects; the development and supply of superior learner and educator support materials; and learner enrichment programmes for technological career development.

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