Registrars undergoing training at UKZN's Department of Public Health Medicine are benefiting from a weekly Journal Club series presented by the Department on Friday mornings.

The Journal Club includes students, public health academics, specialists, members of the Department of Health and academics from various disciplines who share public health interests.

'Each week the Department hosts topical research presentations which encourage registrars, as part of their training, to engage in journal critique, discuss research methods and methodology and relevant academic issues,' said Dr Stephen Knight, Senior Lecturer in Public Health at UKZN.

Ms Mariam Loveday, Senior Scientist at the South African Medical Research Council (MRC), recently presented on the topic:Decentralised care for patients with drug resistant TB”.

Her thesis assesses decentralised treatment for multi-drug resistant tuberculosis in KwaZulu-Natal and looks at the evaluation of a pilot project being introduced by the Department of Health in KwaZulu-Natal.

Interesting findings were presented by Dr Temitope Famkinwa from his journal titled: “The effect of maternal child marriage on morbidity and mortality of children under 5 in India: cross sectional study of a nationally representative sample” ~ Raj et al.

His study found that the risk of malnutrition is higher in young children born to mothers married as minors than those born to women married at an older age. He recommended that further research should examine how early marriage affects food distribution and access for children in India.

Committed to excellence in teaching and learning, Professor Joyce Tsoka-Gwegweni, Acting Academic Leader: Public Health at UKZN, said the journal club comprised a critical aspect of registrar training as the programme included possible exam questions for the journal articles presented.

'The journal club is very important for us as registrars because we are exposed to the professionals who are senior in their fields and get valuable feedback from them,' said Dr Chantal Smith, currently a registrar at the Health Systems Trust in Westville.

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The Centre for Rural Health (CRH) at UKZN has partnered with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the provincial Department of Health (DOH) to support the re-engineering of primary health care in KwaZulu-Natal in an attempt to improve maternal and child health outcomes.

This follows the South African government's decision to embark on a goal to develop an effective Primary Health Care (PHC) system through a process of re-engineering PHC.

The partnership recognised that despite the introduction of many health care policies and programmes which support child health in South Africa as well as substantial investment in public health infrastructure, little progress had been made towards achieving the improvements in child and maternal mortality required by the Millennium Development Goals.

It was agreed that if deaths among mothers and children are to be reduced, improved coverage of currently available interventions is a key priority.

The partnership would achieve this by implementing interlinked and related streams of work intended to strengthen maternal and child health care at district and community level.

The first project - the KwaZulu-Natal Initiative for Newborn Care (KINC) - will support and improve the quality of neonatal care at district level hospitals in eThekwini, Ilembe, Ugu, Umkhanyakude, Umzinyathi, and Zululand, building on previous UNICEF/CRH experience in strengthening neonatal care in the Limpopo province.

The CRH says child mortality in South Africa is high, estimated at 62 per 1 000 live births in 2009, and there has been no improvement since 1990. Maternal mortality has also not improved over the same time period.

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Mrs Helen Mulol, a PhD candidate at UKZN’s Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, has been awarded a doctoral scholarship from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Mulol together with staff and students from the School of Clinical Medicine recently attended a meeting of the IAEA in Vienna.  The objective of the meeting was to co-ordinate the activities of PhD candidates awarded doctoral scholarships from the IAEA to conduct studies on breast milk intake of young infants using stable isotope techniques.

The candidates represented seven countries - Burkina Faso, India, Jamaica, Kenya, Sri Lanka, South Africa and Thailand.  Mulol was accompanied by her Supervisor, internationally renowned Paediatrician, Professor Anna Coutsoudis.

Mulol’s dissertation is titled: “A Longitudinal Study of Breast Milk Intake Volumes in African Infants in a Typical Urban Disadvantaged South African Community”.  The study location is in Cato Manor, Durban, and the research aims to determine volumes of breast milk and other liquids consumed by African infants over a period of 14 days. This is carried out at five time points – six weeks, three months, six months, nine months and 12 months following birth. Mothers enrolled in the research project attend a breast feeding peer counseling programme at the Cato Manor Clinic.

The method involves the mothers drinking a small volume of deuterium which mixes with her body water and hence passes to the baby through the mother's breast milk if the infant is breast feeding. Deuterium is a stable isotope of hydrogen and the deuterium enrichment in saliva samples from mother and baby are measured using a FTIR Spectrophotometer (Fourier Transform InfraRed) which is an analytical chemistry method. This stable isotope method was developed by the IAEA.

‘The World Health Organization has set Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which seek to reduce the under-five mortality rate by two-thirds by 2015,’ said Mulol. ‘A Lancet study stated that of the 10.8 million children who die each year under the age of five, 41 percent are found in sub-Saharan Africa (4.4 million) and South Africa accounts for 77 000 of these deaths. A subsequent article on child survival concludes that there is strong evidence to show that exclusive breast feeding for the first six months of life and continued breast feeding for 6-11 months reduces the incidences of diarrhoea and pneumonia which are major contributors to infant morbidity and mortality.

‘They further state that if 90 percen
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UKZN linguistics lecturer Ms Kerry Jones presented her research on the current state of Khoisan languages in Southern Africa at a five-day /A!kunta project conference  held in the Drakensberg recently.

Jones became involved in the /A!kunta project, which is aimed at economically emancipating the Bushman of southern Africa, when she met the Director Mr Paul Herwood in 2011.

‘Khoisan languages are the language of the first peoples of the planet, according to recent DNA studies. In preserving these languages we preserve the Indigenous Knowledge Systems of the Khoi and San people,’ said Jones.

Her presentation also highlighted measures that could be taken to ensure the preservation of certain Khoisan languages that were specific to the groups represented and NGOs present at the meeting.

Jones invited students Ms Monwabisi Mhlophe, Ms Jacqui Carlyle and Ms Barbara Biasizzo to the conference as she felt it was a golden opportunity for them to observe, learn and engage with NGOs and community members.

‘It was a good experience to meet with community members and to actually see their reactions on the work being done on the preservation of their language,’ said Carlyle.

She also enjoyed being able to network and to meet people - not necessarily academic researchers - who work with the upliftment of a community.

Also in attendance were various representatives of Khoi and San groups from around southern Africa including the Working Group of Indigenous Minorities in Southern Africa (WIMSA).

‘Meetings and conferences like this are important for networking and sharing ideas as well as providing a direct opportunity to speak to community representatives for their opinion and advice on grass-roots projects,’ said Jones, who plans to attend a research meeting hosted by WIMSA in Namibia in July.

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The Centre for Civil Society based within UKZN’s School of Built Environment and Development Studies recently hosted a research seminar at which the Protection of Information Bill (Secrecy Bill) was analysed and discussed.

National Co-ordinator of the Right2Know (R2K) campaign, Mr Murray Hunter, said the Bill threatened to turn South Africa into a nation of secrets undermining its hard won freedoms.

‘This Bill is the most contested piece of legislature. Academics and journalists will definitely be affected by the threat of a rising security state in which ordinary citizens and journalists who expose government secrets in the public interest will be imprisoned for up to 25 years,’ said Hunter.

He explained that the Bill, if passed in its current form, would give government officials the power to hide all types of important information from South African citizens under the basis of national security, thus leading to further non-disclosure of corruption and criminal behaviour by public officials.

A member of the Right2Know campaign, Mr Percy Nhau of Zimbabwe, said South Africa was following the same system as Zimbabwe in which instead of opening up democratic spaces, it was closing these spaces through classified information.

‘In KZN, there is very little participation to scrap the Secrecy Bill and this has to change because it is a threat to all of us.’

Nhau also stressed that academics at universities should write articles and produce research on the Secrecy Bill for the public domain. ‘This information would be vital for the man on the street and would help to stop the bill being passed,’ he email :



Representatives of Durban’s civil engineering fraternity gathered on the Howard College campus recently to show their support for UKZN’s School of Engineering, and in particular, the Discipline of Civil Engineering.

Engineering consultancy SSI Engineering and Environmental Management sponsored the networking function for donors and companies in the local civil engineering industry and handed over a R100 000 cheque to UKZN’s Civil Support Fund (KNUCS Fund).

The KNUCS Fund has a long and fruitful history.  In 1989 the Class of 1961, under the encouragement of former class member and then Head of Department, Professor Geoff Pegram, established the Natal University Civil Support Fund Support Group (NUCS).   The purpose of the group was to raise funds for the subvention of academic salaries in the Civil Engineering Programme.

Renamed the KNUCS Fund, these monies are now managed by a steering committee of representatives from the Civil Engineering Programme, the School of Engineering at UKZN, the KZN Branch of CESA and SAFCEC as well as the Engineering Unit at the eThekwini Municipality.

Current Dean and Head of the School of Engineering, Professor Cristina Trois, explained that the funds were derived from donations by contractors, manufacturers and consulting engineers in the civil engineering fraternity, as well as ex-graduates.  She thanked SSI Engineers for their generous donation.

The KNUCS Fund is used to support academic salaries so that the Programme can attract and retain high quality lecturers. ‘This will, in turn, ensure that the standards and quality of UKZN Civil Engineering graduates are maintained at a high level,’ said Trois.

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‘An unforgettable experience’ - was how Mrs Diane van Staden, Optometry Lecturer and PhD candidate in the College of Health Sciences, described presenting her research at the European Academy of Optometry and Optics’ (EAOO) annual Conference  in Dublin, Ireland.


The Conference united more than 230 people working in optometry and optics from 29 countries, and van Staden’s PhD was one of 70 poster presentations featured.


Van Staden’s study is titled: “An evaluation of a multi-partner development initiative in the establishment of an undergraduate optometry training programme for Portuguese-speaking Africa: the Mozambique Eye Care Project Implementation Lessons”.


The study is a contribution to the Mozambique Eyecare Project (MEP), which is the first Portuguese-language optometry programme in Africa.


MEP is a unique institutional collaboration which was initiated in February 2009 with the first cohort of undergraduate students beginning classes at Lúrio University in Northern Mozambique. To date, nine optometrists, either Portuguese or Spanish speaking, have been recruited from Spain, Portugal and Colombia.


Van Staden is pursuing her PhD through the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT), however her study is also being co-supervised by UKZN’s Professor Kovin Naidoo.


Van Staden’s passion to develop optometry services worldwide began after she completed her Bachelor’s degree at UKZN IN 1998 and started working at the International Centre for Eyecare Education (ICEE) through Irish aid administered by DIT. She became an advocate for long-term sustainable eye-care on the African continent.


Although van Staden has worked with international partners for several years now, she said it had been an honour to present part of her PhD in the international arena.

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STUDENT INTERNS GAIN WORK EXPERIENCEUKZN’s Community Development Department internship programme co-ordinator Ms Phindile Shangase has secured internships at leading Durban organisations for students from the School of Built Environment and Development Studies.

The organisations include eThekwini Municipality, Childline and the Durban Basin.

The students were excited to have been given the opportunity and thanked the school for preparing them for the working world.

A recent graduate Mr Desigan Arumogam currently works in a sub-section within the housing support and administration department at eThekwini Municipality. He monitors the development of new settlements, the demolition of old structures and the numbering of new settlements.

‘I feel good knowing that I am working at grassroots level whereby I can make a difference to people living within these poor conditions. I have visited places I’d never even been to previously. Working at the municipality is such a great learning experience,’ he said.

Another intern, Ms Khayakazi Cholidiza, who works at Childline South Africa, is ecstatic to have landed the paying internship. ‘I love working at Childline. I believe that studying at UKZN and what I learnt from the lecturers has put me here and this knowledge is still going to take me far,’ she said.

Cholidiza works on projects that train people in various communities across the country to utilise their skills for a better community.

An intern within the Social Development Division of the Durban Basin, Ms Nomthandazo Sikhosana, says her time at the organisation has been fruitful and rewarding.

‘It was good to work there because I felt like an employee and could perform my duties with support from my manager and other staff members. Getting an internship is as hard as finding a full time job, so I never looked down upon that opportunity because I know what it takes a person to score even one interview.’
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Dean and Head of the School of Health Sciences (SOHS), Professor Sabiha Essack, attended the Global Forum for Health Research held in Cape Town recently under the theme: “Beyond Aid. Research and Innovation as key drivers for Health, Equity and Development”.


Essack was invited by the National Health Research Ethics Council (NHREC) Secretariat.


Essack is a Ministerial appointee on NHREC, President of the South African Chapter of the Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics (APUA), and co-Founder and Chair of the South African Committee of Health Sciences Deans.


She attended the forum with colleagues Professor Fanie Botha, Director: College Professional Services, and Dr Frasia Oosthuizen, Academic Leader: Teaching and Learning (SOHS) who engaged with international delegates at the UKZN stand.


Essack said Forum 2012 examined how best to advance high quality research and sustainable research capacity within developing country contexts.  Self-reliance in terms of research funding, setting the research agenda and beneficial community engagement were some of the complex issues debated.


The focus was on three main themes: “improving and increasing investments in research and innovation”; “networking and partnerships for research and innovation”; and “creating environments which support research and innovation to achieve goals”.


Botha said Forum 2012 showed how health professionals could participate beyond aid in their respective fields and also provided an excellent opportunity for networking and forging international partnerships.

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One of the attractions at the UKZN stand organised by the College of Health Sciences at the second QS-Maple Conference in Durban earlier this month was an exhibition of keyhole surgery - a ground-breaking surgical technique which involves a surgeon operating through tiny incisions.


Mr Chris George, Senior Technician at UKZN's Department of General Surgery, explained that unlike open surgery, keyhole surgery - also known as laparoscopic/minimal access surgery - involved a surgeon operating through incisions often no more than 10mm, using a telescope attached to a video camera.


The camera, said George, was inserted through one incision and operating instruments were used through one or more further incisions. The operation was performed by a surgeon who viewed the image on a television monitor.


One of the major advantages of this form of surgery is that patients experience less discomfort, quicker recovery and far better cosmetic results.


There are five stations for keyhole surgery at UKZN's Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine.  George said it was a highly specialised field in which Fellows of the College of Surgeons of South Africa are trained and it was very rewarding to see fourth-year students enrolled in the MBChB programme walk out confident and empowered with surgical skills.


George said technology had a large role to play in modern surgery. The latest technological breakthrough has been the da Vinci® Surgical System - an effective alternative to both open and keyhole surgery - in which  surgeons are now able to offer a minimally invasive option for complex surgical procedures.


Seated comfortably at the da Vinci console, a surgeon views a magnified, high-resolution 3D image of the surgical site, controlling every aspect of the surgery with the assistance of the da Vinci robotic platform.

UMnu Sembe Makhaola, oyiDepot Manager eMaluti Mountain Brewery eMaseru eLesotho ubeka ukuphumelela kweDepho yakhe yokuthola indondo yeDepot of the Year 2011-2012 kumsebenzi nezifundo azithole eNyuvesi ngesikhathi enza izifundo zakhe zePostgraduate Diploma in Leadership e-UKZN.

IDepho iyingxenye yenkampani enkulu yeSAB Miller.

UMakhaola uthi obekubalulekile kakhulu kuyena bekuwumsebenzi awenze noSolwazi Kriben Pillay, laphe abemgqugquzela khona ukwenza ucwaningo ngaye ukuze azikhulise ebuholeni bakhe njengomuntu.

Uzoqhubeka nokwenza izifundo zakhe zeMasters uma eqeda lezifundo azenza manje.

Click here for english version

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Future Zuckerbergs, Motsepes, Oppenheimers and Luhabes - engineering students sat in rapt attention at the launch of the Engineering Students Entrepreneurship Forum under the theme, Training Tomorrow’s Leaders Today, at the UNITE/School of Engineering building. 

Hosted by UNITE as part of its ongoing efforts to engage students in current social trends, presenters evoked the need for students to develop entrepreneurial skills in order to navigate the challenges of university life as well as contribute towards job creation in South Africa.

Presenters included Professor Shahida Cassim, Graduate School of Business and Leadership; Professor Deresh Ramjugernath, Chemical Engineering; Mr Rudi Kimmie, UNITE; Mr Atul Padalkar, Bizfarm; Mr Tony Ngwenya, NYDA and Mr Fekrey Baderoon, Business Consultant.

With the aim of changing the prevailing paradigm that students learn to find employment, the Engineering Students Entrepreneurship forum aims to inculcate a new mindset of learning to create employment.  This initiative recognises the current crises of unemployment facing South Africa and with about 600 000 university graduates currently unemployed, it supports national attempts to cultivate entrepreneurial prospects.

The vibrant discussions during the student forum indicated a strong desire by students to become entrepreneurial, with a sizeable number already involved in various business ventures. Although launched in Engineering, it is envisaged that this initiative be extended to all interested students. 

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The Women in Leadership and Leverage Committee (WILL) has made the College of Health Sciences home to various skills development opportunities.


WILL’s most recent workshop attracted a host of staff, students and health professionals to the Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine (NRMSM) to learn and master practical tips for scientific writing.


The presenter, Ms Carrin Martin, has a social science background with a Masters degree in Medical Geography which involved writing a large number of essays helping her gain experience in developing an idea into a structured story.


Martin is currently doing her PhD in the Department of Cultural Heritage and Tourism at UKZN and also provides editing support on a part-time basis. Her 17 years’ experience of working in public health research organisations has required her to write copious minutes, edit many reports, manuscripts and theses, and work with students to improve their writing skills. 


‘Good writing applies to any discipline you’re in,’ said Martin, adding that it was important to note that when people read they interpreted, it was therefore important to write well to avoid being misunderstood.


Martin argues that scientific writing is not about being verbose or fancy, rather it requires uncomplicated formality and professionalism, preventing an opportunity for incorrect assumptions and therefore misinterpretation. Words have specific meanings both individually and collectively, she says, and being able to convey an idea accurately and well is the key to ensuring that the reader correctly interprets and understands what has been written.


This was of benefit, especially to young scientific writers, working on postgraduate research projects and others wishing to have their work published in local and international peer-reviewed journals.

Strengthening Local Economic Development for the Second Decade of Democracy in South Africa was the theme of a conference in Durban co-ordinated by Professor Purshottama Reddy of UKZN’s School of Management, IT and Governance.

The gathering was the Democracy Development Programme’s 7th National Conference on Local Economic Development (LED).

The conference attracted 165 delegates from local, provincial and national government, the National Council of Provinces, national and international non-governmental organisations, donor agencies and academic institutions.

Challenges highlighted included clarity on the meaning of LED, uneven development (competition between localities), access to funding, lack of trust between the public and private sectors, limited skills (marketing; contract management; and identification of business ideas) and training of professionals and lack of reliable data for LED planning.

Dr Pregala Pillay, Senior Lecturer at the School of Management, IT and Governance, chaired  a session on the Role of the Private Sector while Mr Stan Hardman, Senior Lecturer at the Graduate School of Business and Leadership, spoke on the Emergence of the Local Economic Development Professional in Government.

UKZN alumnus Dr Nomusa Ndlela, Acting Director of Policy and Research at the KZN Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs made the closing summary while Dr Ivan Govender presented a paper on Monitoring and Evaluation.

‘The LED policy has been evolving since the early 1990s and has been gaining momentum over the years, but the results in terms of output and success have been mixed and limited,’ said Reddy.

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