TATA AFRICA SCHOLARSHIPS AWARDED TO 15 UKZN STUDENTS

TATA AFRICA SCHOLARSHIPS AWARDED TO 15 UKZN STUDENTS

Fifteen disadvantaged postgraduate UKZN students were recently awarded scholarships worth a total of R750 000 from TATA Africa.

 

The scholarships will aid students to further their studies at the University in their respective fields of Science, Chemistry, Medical Science and Commerce.

 

Speaking at the event on the Howard College campus, UKZN Vice-Chancellor, Professor Malegapuru Makgoba, thanked TATA Africa for their commitment and investment in students.

 

‘We are grateful to TATA Africa for providing these scholarships to our students and for identifying such young talent. We as a University are committed to academic excellence and now students will be able to reap the benefits and turn their adversity into advancement,’ he said.

  

Bsc Honours student in Chemistry, Mr Zwelihle Ndlovu, was also struggling financially before being awarded the scholarship. ‘My mum was happy when I told her she didn’t have to worry about paying my fees anymore. I can now focus only on my studies and be able to help other kids from Umlazi achieve their dreams. If I can make it, anyone from the townships can,’ said Ndlovu.

 

Managing Director of TATA Africa, Mr Raman Dhawan, congratulated and advised the scholarship recipients to succeed academically and to use their skills to make a difference and to contribute to the African continent.


author email : mungroo@ukzn.ac.za

CCS REPORTS BACK FROM RIO+20

CCS REPORTS BACK FROM RIO+20

Professor Patrick Bond of the Centre for Civil Society (CCS) recently spoke at a plenary session in South America, alongside Liberation Theology founder Mr Leonardo Boff and former Bolivian UN Ambassador, Mr Pablo Solon.

 

The gathering, sponsored by the Coopération Internationale pour le Développement et la Solidarité (CIDSE), was one of many civil society meetings held at the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

 

Bond and CCS researcher Ms Khadija Sharife pointed out that a variety of technological and market-oriented “false solutions” to the climate and other environmental crises had emerged from corporations and many were codified in Green Economy deals done at the Rio+20 summit.

 

These include: dirty forms of “clean energy”, such as nuclear, so-called “clean coal”, fracking shale gas, hydropower, hydrogen; biofuels, biomass, biochar and even the Carbon Capture and Storage strategy endorsed by the SA Cabinet.

 

‘The planet is far too vulnerable and valuable to be left to bankers. Perhaps it’s time to consider why the original Rio Earth Summit commitment was dashed against the rocks of neoliberalism over the last two decades,’ said Bond.

 

The CCS, however, has been involved in numerous activities such as helping expose policy corruption in the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism – including a carbon-trading pilot project at Bisasar Road Landfill in Durban – and supporting the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA) struggle to end pollution.

 

‘The world’s ecological problems cannot be solved by the “Green Economy gimmicks” that emerged at Rio+20, and instead, the CCS believes in full transformation of energy, transport, agriculture, production, consumption and disposal. It is an agenda that necessarily involves intellectual and policy confrontations with excessive corporate power,’ said Bond.


author email : mungroo@ukzn.ac.za

33rd Durban International Film Festival kicks off

33rd Durban International Film Festival kicks off

The 33rd Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) is set to ‘wow’ film audiences and fundi’s this year with a myriad of exciting films. The festival will run from 19-29 July and will see 290 screenings in 10 venues across the city- 80 feature films, 40 documentaries, 45 short films and a comprehensive programme of workshops and seminars.

The festival is being hosted by UKZN’s Centre for Creative Arts (CCA) and is being principally funded by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund.

Director for CCA, Mr Peter Rorvik said a number of important film industry development initiatives such as Talent Campus Durban and Durban FilmMart will take place. . ‘In addition to the closed programmes, free filmmaker seminars, workshops and public discussion forums are offered for professionals, aspirants and members of the public interested in the inner workings of the film industry,’ he said.

According to CCA publicist Ms Sharlene Versfeld, the blossoming African film industry will take centre stage this year with 66 South African films being thrust into the spotlight.

‘Opening the festival this year is Elelwani by Ntshavheni wa Luruli, that stars Florence Masebe. The film addresses the convergence of modernity and traditional culture. The closing film by Director Mr Wayne Thornley and the Triggerfish team is the delightful story of animal kingdom Ubuntu in the pioneering 3D animation Adventures in Zambezia,’ said Versfeld.

This year’s festival will also see films from contemporary Europe with a special focus on French films such as The Lady, a powerful biopic on Burmese leader Ms Aung San Suu Kyi. An Eco-lens section of the festival will shine a light on ecological and environmental issues.

Some of the principal screening venues for DIFF are the Suncoast CineCentre, Ster Kinekor Musgrave, Cinema Nouveau Gateway and the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre. Tickets should be acquired from the respective venues and prices range from R25 to R35.

Programme booklets with the full screening schedule and synopses of all the films are available free at cinemas and other public information outlets. 
author email : mungroo@ukzn.ac.za

MICROSOFT HAS ARRIVED!

MICROSOFT HAS ARRIVED!

UKZN has begun migrating from GroupWise to the new email system, Microsoft Outlook, which will be installed on an estimated 8 000 computers over the next few weeks.

 

The conversion is being handled by 150 Information Communication Services (ICS) staff members who descended on the Westville campus in teams.

 

According to Richard Jansen, Acting CIO, the migration was the biggest project undertaken by ICS to date. ‘Lots of work has gone into the preparation for this, particularly over this past weekend.’ Jansen thanked everyone who had worked on the project for their tireless devotion, including burning the midnight oil the weekend before the launch.

 

Jansen explained the benefits of migrating to Microsoft.  ‘We talk about the convergence of technology – the integration of unified communications of telephony and audio visual, document management and email. This system facilitates a change in technology employed at the University with near future available functionality such as video conferences from your PC/laptop, printing that can follow you around the University to any printer and instant messaging to anyone in your Microsoft address book.’


author email : captain@ukzn.ac.za

PUBLIC LECTURE ON DRUG-RESISTANT TB RESEARCH

PUBLIC LECTURE ON DRUG-RESISTANT TB RESEARCH

Staff and students in the College of Health Sciences were treated to a stimulating public lecture on the Westville campus by internationally acclaimed TB researcher, Professor Gyanu Lamichhane of The Johns Hopkins University (JHU) in the United States.

 

An Associate Professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at JHU, Lamichhane’s topic was: “The pathway for biosynthesis of peptidoglycan layer as a target for development of inhibitors. Who will develop them”?

 

Referring to the World Health Organisation’s Global Incidence of TB between 1999 and 2005, Lamichhane said statistics reflected TB prevalence was highest on the African continent. The disease burden intensified from 2006 onwards as more and more patients suffered from extremely drug resistant TB (XDR-TB) and HIV co-infection.

 

Multidrug Resistant TB (MDR-TB) describes strains of tuberculosis that are resistant to at least the two main first-line TB drugs - isoniazid and rifampicin. XDR-TB, or Extensive Drug Resistant TB (also referred to as Extreme Drug Resistance), is a MDR-TB strain also resistant to three or more of the six classes of second-line drugs.

 

Lamichhane explained that XDR-TB was a disease that needed to be “felt” before it was really understood.

 

‘The patient feels it when the doctor says: “We don’t have any drugs to treat you”.’

 

Lamichhane said the goal was to develop new drugs against TB. His primary interest lay in the genes essential for growth of mycobacteria in vivo and in vitro.

 

Lamichhane’s research group has created a library of transposon insertion mutants of the M. tuberculosis Oshkosh CDC1551 strain and directly identified non-essential genes. These genes, when inactivated by transposon insertion, did not compromise the growth of the bacillus in vitro.

 

Currently, the group is trying to find genes whose functions were required for survival and growth in vivo in the mouse model of tuberculosis. These genes would be rational targets for new anti-tuberculosis drugs. Or, when these genes were modified, the resulting strains would likely be attenuated in growth and virulence. This phenotype would be suitable for studying vaccine development.

 

His lecture addressed research experts at UKZN who have been pioneers in TB research. ‘There is no reason to think that it is the big guy in big places who will find a cure for XDR-TB.’

 

Lamichhane said healthcare professionals in South Africa, especially KwaZulu-Natal, were at the coal face of the disease. “They feel it,” and this is why he encouraged UKZN to be the institution that buried the disease.


author email : memelal@ukzn.ac.za

UKZN HELPING KEEP THE EAST COAST WARMER THIS WINTER

UKZN HELPING KEEP THE EAST COAST WARMER THIS WINTER

This winter will be a little more bearable for the poor and needy in KwaZulu-Natal thanks to the generosity of the UKZN community, who answered East Coast Radio’s calls for support in collecting blankets and cash donations for their Winter Warmth campaign.

 

The Winter Warmth campaign seeks to assist those in need by providing blankets for the colder months. Staff and students were urged to donate new blankets or make cash donations which would be used to purchase blankets on their behalf.

 

The main libraries on each campus served as drop off points, while the cashiers played their part by collecting cash donations. In total, R21 900 and more than 100 blankets were donated by the UKZN community. What is particularly special about this is that the donations came from the pockets of staff and students.

 

On Friday, Gabriel Sithole, the presenter of the 02h00 to 05h00 show on East Coast Radio, and Ms Anusha Timul, East Coast Radio's CSI Co-ordinator, visited the Westville campus to receive UKZN’s donation from some of the dedicated staff who urged the University to support this worthy cause. A visibly excited Sithole thanked the staff members present on behalf of ECR’s CEO, Ms Trish Taylor. He also spoke of the massive impact the collection would make on the recipients, and said he looked forward to partnering with UKZN in the future.


author email : nathooa@ukzn.ac.za

UKZN HOSTS INTERNATIONAL WORKSHOP ON ECOLOGY AND THE ENVIRONMENT

UKZN HOSTS INTERNATIONAL WORKSHOP ON ECOLOGY AND THE ENVIRONMENT

The School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science hosted an international workshop on Landscape Ecology and Environmental Stability at the Innovation Centre.

 

The workshop was held under the auspices of the Centre for Discrete Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science at Rutgers University and the Mathematical Biosciences Institute at Ohio State University (DIMACS / MBI) in the United States. The workshop formed part of the US-African Biomathematics Initiative, which seeks to find solutions to African problems through the creation of long-lasting partnerships between African and American scientists.

 

The workshop was jointly sponsored by DIMACS, the MBI, the International Council for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, the Society for Mathematical Biology and UKZN.   Professor Kesh Govinder, Dean and Head of the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science, was a co-Chair of the organising committee. According to Govinder, hosting this Conference is part of his School’s strategic focus on Mathematical Biology.

 

Another organising committee member, Professor Holly Gaff of Old Dominion University’s School of Biological Sciences, said the main focus of the workshop was ‘to bring students together to learn quantitative skills’ that could be applied in the fields of landscape ecology and environmental stability. Gaff presented two ‘hands-on skills oriented lectures’, as well as on her own current research in modelling risk associated with ticks and tick-borne diseases.

 

Ms Sadie Ryan, a Faculty member from the State University of New York, said she hoped the workshop would ‘bring together people from different disciplinary backgrounds’ to share, collaborate and learn from the various methodological approaches. Ryan was particularly interested in learning how scientists from ‘completely different educational backgrounds’ tackled similar problems in dissimilar contexts.

 

The week-long workshop ended with a four day field trip to northern KZN to visit sites at which ecological research is being undertaken.


author email : nathooa@ukzn.ac.za

UKZN STUDENT BAGS TOP AWARDS AT NATIONAL ARTS FESTIVAL

UKZN STUDENT BAGS TOP AWARDS AT NATIONAL ARTS FESTIVAL

Multi-talented drama and media honours student, Mr Kline Smith, won the Best Writer and Best Director awards for his production Mob Feel at the 2012 National Arts Festival in Grahamstown.

 

Sponsored for the first time by the South African Post Office, the awards acknowledge and honour the best work on the Festival’s Student Theatre Programme.

 

The award of Best Director will guarantee Smith a place in the Fringe programme at the 2013 National Arts Festival.  This comes with support and funding to debut a new work for the event. 

 

‘I will also be mentored by a professional director and given a budget to create a two-hander for the Fringe – launching my career as an emerging professional Director,’ said Smith. 

 

Smith’s Best Writer award includes ongoing support on how to shape either a current or new script for the stage, as well as a cash incentive. 

 

As a result of his awards and play, Smith’s talent has piqued the interest of several well-known directors and artists. 

 

Ms Lara Foot Newton, Writer and Director of Tshepang, left her business card for Smith with one of the arts critics.  Another critic, American Lighting Designer and arts theatre academic, Ms Kathy Perkins, contacted Smith and expressed her interest in him going to New York to do some work with her.  

 

CLU! Magazine (Campus Life Unrestricted) has also approached Smith to write in their lifestyle column.  His article will appear in the next issue. 

 

Smith’s production, Mob Feel, is based on Can Themba’s 1952 short story of the same name.  It tells the story of gang violence and ethnic rivalry that took place in the township of Westbury, Johannesburg in the 1950s – a love story with violence and passion, meshed with physical theatre and live music. 

 

Mob Feel premiered at UKZN’s Hexagon Theatre in Pietermaritzburg prior to appearing at the National Arts Festival.  It proved an overwhelming success and according to Smith, ‘we filled out the theatre and got a standing ovation.  It was then that I realised we had succeeded in telling this wonderful story’.

 

 Mob Feel has been a bigger success than I could have ever fathomed.  I owe the entire experience to my cast: TQ Zondi, Pertunia Msani, Mpilo Nzimande and Mercio Langa.  Their dedication, creativity and discipline have made the play what it is,’ said Smith.

 

Smith also credits much of his success to the support he has received from the drama and performance department and Hexagon office staff on UKZN’s Pietermaritzburg campus. 

 

‘They all acted as mentors and provided critical engagement, motivation, support and above all, love. To me they are the best theatre practitioners in the country as they have years of experience and skill… without them I’d be lost.’

 

He is also indebted to his family whom he says ‘drive all the way from Eshowe to see every single one of my productions.’

 

Smith was recently honoured with three other prestigious awards at the KwaZulu-Natal Young Achievers’ Awards which recognise young achievers in the performing arts for their efforts to bring about social change.

 

He was named KwaZulu-Natal’s Young Achiever of the Year 2012 and also received awards for academics and performing arts. 

 

Never satisfied to rest on his laurels, Smith has already started working on a musical titled: The Mystery Tour and will also be staging a home run of Mob Feel at the Hexagon Theatre on 25 and 26 July. 

 

He is also working on re-staging Tshepang for private schools in KwaZulu-Natal as it is one of the setwork books for drama. 

 

‘I plan to take a total of four shows to the Arts Fest in 2013, three of which I will direct and the other I will act in,’ said Smith. 


author email : crookesv@ukzn.ac.za

TRAINING COMPETENT SA HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONALS FOR THE 21ST CENTURY

TRAINING COMPETENT SA HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONALS FOR THE 21ST CENTURY

Challenges and solutions associated with the training of competent healthcare professionals for the 21st century were discussed when 120 key stakeholders gathered on the Westville campus for the South African Committee of Health Sciences Deans (SACOHSD) 2012 Conference.

 

The Conference was held under the auspices of Professor Sabiha Essack, SACOHSD Chair and Dean: School of Health Sciences at UKZN.

 

Key publications by the World Bank, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Global Health Workforce Alliance (GHWA) all support the expansion of the health workforce while equipping those involved with the appropriate knowledge, skills and competencies.

 

Professor Raj Naidoo, Professor Emeritus: Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, opened the conference with an overview of the seminal Lancet paper

 

The paper outlines the quality of the health workforce internationally and the problems faced including: health challenges having outpaced curriculum reform, the existence of a fragmented, out-dated, static curricula producing ill-equipped health graduates, a mismatch of competencies and patient/population needs, poor teamwork, gender bias of professional status, a narrow technical focus without contextual understanding, episodic encounters as opposed to a continuum of care and a hospi-centric as opposed to primary healthcare approach to training.

 

 ‘The South African Human Resources for Health Strategy 2030 comprehensively quantifies the existing and projected health workforce which regrettably falls short of health system needs,’ said Essack.

 

‘It is evident from the World Health Statistics 2011 that health worker density per 100 000 population is substantially lower in South Africa compared to the vast majority of countries South Africa is benchmarked against, including those in BRIC.’

 

South Africa faced what the Lancet Report of 2009 termed the quadruple burden of disease; namely: HIV/AIDS and TB; maternal, infant and child mortality; non-communicable diseases; injury and violence.

 

In addressing this and other health challenges, Dr Bernhard Gaede, Director for the Centre for Rural Development (CRH) at UKZN, alluded to a fifth possible burden in the country which he said was ‘good policy principles, but poor implementation’.

 

The implementation of a National Health Insurance (NHI) as proposed by the Department of Health (DoH) in the country was one innovative step towards providing appropriate, efficient and quality health services for all South Africans.

 

Gaede said South African universities were confronted with the serious challenge of designing relevant and comprehensive curricula for health professionals in the 21st century.

 

Dr Peter Barron of the national Department of Health, who spoke about re-engineering primary healthcare in the district health system, said: ‘One of the key problems in South Africa is that there seems to be a lack of strong partnership between the relevant government departments, academia and the health systems in place.’

 

The conference thus provided an excellent platform to workshop solutions to identified challenges between South African universities, the country’s education boards (Health Professions Council of South Africa, South African Pharmacy Council, South African Nursing Council), along with the National Departments of Higher Education and Training (DoHET), and Health and Science and Technology.

 

Professor Jannie Hugo, Head of Family Medicine at the University of Pretoria made compelling arguments about the need for task shifting and producing mid-level workers for the country’s healthcare system. ‘Mid-level programmes, if well designed, can work,’ said Hugo

 

The College of Health Sciences at UKZN recently produced KwaZulu-Natal’s first group of occupational therapy technicians (OTTs) who graduated as mid-level workers and are now out making a difference in the profession throughout the province.

 

Academic Complexes and Clinical Training Platforms was the focus of a presentation delivered by the University of Cape Town’s Professor Vanessa Burch, where she is Chair of Clinical Medicine. She lobbies for an increase in clinical training sites for students to benefit.

 

It was agreed there was a need to train healthcare workers “fit for purpose”; for joint leadership on advancing the training of healthcare workers, synergetic quality assurance and accreditation processes, and a need for alliance and social compacts between key role players and health sciences education based in both education and health.

 

Delegates also discussed the need to expand the clinical training platform for equity and quality of healthcare provision. They said funding streams need to be consolidated and streamlined in order to pave a way forward in the training of competent healthcare professionals.
author email : memelal@ukzn.ac.za

SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING HOSTS WINTER SCHOOL 2012

SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING HOSTS WINTER SCHOOL 2012

The School of Engineering has hosted yet another successful Winter School.

 

The programme, attended by Grades 11 and 12 learners in KwaZulu-Natal, gave insight into the various options offered by the School with a mix of serious academic presentations, practical activities and light-hearted entertainment.

 

Pupils were provided with a taste of what an Engineering degree at UKZN would involve as each discipline presented the academic and practical components of their respective degrees. The youngsters were also given tours of the various learning facilities, laboratories and workshops, and spent time completing discipline specific projects at the end of the week.

 

Professor Cristina Trois, Dean and Head of the School of Engineering, was on hand to welcome the students on the first day. She highlighted the importance of maths and physics as the foundation to a career in engineering.

 

Trois said she was pleased to host the Winter School in the new UNITE building at Howard College, which visibly impressed the students with its innovative design features.

 

Some highlights of the week included a tour of the Durban Harbour and the FFS Refinery in Jacobs as well as a braai on the last day. The students also got a feel for the Howard College campus, as they competed in an Amazing Race challenge. They were given cryptic clues to help them locate checkpoints around the campus, and had to take photographs to prove they had found them.


author email : nathooa@ukzn.ac.za

BEST LECTURER AWARDS PRESENTED AT EDGEWOOD

BEST LECTURER AWARDS PRESENTED AT EDGEWOOD

The Arts and Culture Education Discipline at the School of Education recently held its first Best Lecturer Awards ceremony on the Edgewood campus.

 

 The awards function was the brainchild of the students who felt their lecturers deserved an award for all the hard work and dedication they put into teaching.

 

Head of the Discipline, Dr Yolisa Nompula, was among those given an award. She said it was unexpected but proved to be a motivation for her.

 

‘I appreciate the fact my students are so diverse.  As much as they learn from me I also learn from them culturally and otherwise. I am so thankful for the thought and I really appreciate the gift. It is rewarding to know that I have such an impact on them.’

 

Lecturer Mr Derrick Zulu also received an award for his teaching contributions. ‘It feels great to take home the award for one of the best lecturers because it somehow shows that someone does see the value and the amount of input teachers put into the whole thing.

 

‘Besides students don’t usually do this kind of thing; it is very rare that students will come back and say thank you for making me a better person than I was before I met you.’

 

Other Lecturers who got awards were Mr Sikhumbuzo Yani (Drama) and Mr Bhekani Buthelezi (Music), who were also thrilled to be recognised for their work with students.

 

All the Best Lecturer award recipients use various teaching techniques in their classes such as a collaborating method, which is working and performing in groups with models and visual aids.

 

Practical sessions are also incorporated within classroom settings in which students are asked to do lesson presentations as they would do them in real-life teaching situations.

 

Nompula advised future Arts and Culture Education teachers to use the knowledge they had - ‘a good teacher is a good researcher. Make your Arts and Culture classes interesting and exciting by not isolating theory from practicals’.


author email : mungroo@ukzn.ac.za

ITHIMBA LABADWEBI NOSOSAYENSI LIZOKHIQIZA IMIDWEBO NDAWONYE

ITHIMBA LABADWEBI NOSOSAYENSI LIZOKHIQIZA IMIDWEBO NDAWONYE

Isikole sakwaMathematics, Statistics and Computer Science kanye ne-artSPACE eThekwini sebenikezele ngendawo nezidingo zokudweba  ukuze kube nemidwebo ezokhiqizwa ngenxa yokuhlanganyela phakathi kososayensi nabadwebi.

Lemidwebo ehlanganisa ososayensi abangamashumi  amabili abavela emikhakheni eyahlukene nabadwebi abangamashumi amabili bazobona lemidwebo abayihlanganyele ibukiswa e-artSPACE eThekwini ngoMandulo. UKaren Bradtke nomkhwenyana wakhe uClaus basungula lokhu ngenxa yokuzama ukuhlanganisa ukudweba nesayensi. Ososayensi bemikhakha eyahlukene e-UKZN bazohlanganyela nabadwebi abahlukene nabanamakhono ahlukene. Kuzoba nezinto ezahlukene kusukela kumidwebo nezinto ezenziwe zezandla.

Abadwebi nososayensi bahlangane okokuqala ngoMsombuluko ebusuku. Lokhu kuhlangana kwabanikeza ithuba lokuba bazane baqale basebenze ndawonye kulemidwebo. Okujabulisa kakhulu ngalemidwebo ukuthi akubekwe migomo yokuthi kufanele kudwetshwe ini noma kanjani. I-artSPACE inikeze ngendawo nezidingo zokudweba kephela.

UMnu Matthew Ovendale, ongumfundi weMasters eCentre for Visual Arts esikhungweni saseMgungundlovu e-UKZN obengomunye wabadwebi kulomhlangano. U-Ovendale uthe ukujabulele kakhulu ukukwazi ukuhlanganisa imibono nabanye abantu futhi ukulangazelele ukukhula afunde kulokusebenza ndawonye.

Click here for English version


author email : nathooa@ukzn.ac.za

HIV PATIENTS ON ART RECOVER JOBS

HIV PATIENTS ON ART RECOVER JOBS

South African HIV patients receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART) in the public sector treatment programme experienced nearly complete recovery of employment, a UKZN study involving 30 000 people aged between 18-59 over a 10-year period has found.

 

The study, conducted by researchers at UKZN’s Africa Centre for Health and Population Studies, was published in the July issue of Health Affairs, a leading health policy journal.

 

Four years after initiation of antiretroviral therapy, employment among HIV patients had recovered to about 90 percent of baseline rates observed in those same patients three to five years before they started treatment. Many patients initiated treatment early enough so that they were able to avoid any loss of employment due to HIV.

 

‘This study provides some of the strongest evidence yet of the large economic benefits that South Africa’s treatment programme has had for people with HIV and their households, said the study’s lead author, Mr Jacob Bor of the Africa Centre and Harvard School of Public Health in the United States.

 

The study took place among a community in the Umkhanyakude District of northern KwaZulu-Natal. Ten years of socioeconomic data were collected on these people from 2001 through 2010 by the Africa Centre, as part of its ongoing population and health surveillance programme. The community where the study took place is mostly rural, and suffers from high HIV prevalence (28 percent of adults) and very high unemployment.

 

Since 2004, more than 2000 adults in the study initiated antiretroviral therapy in the government HIV treatment programme that serves the community. In an agreement with the Department of Health, the Africa Centre was able to link these patients’ clinical records with their socioeconomic data.

 

‘Because of the unique data collected by the Africa Centre for the first time, it was possible to measure changes in employment among HIV patients relative to levels of employment in these same patients, years before job-threatening HIV illness and the decision to seek care. This critical baseline had eluded previous clinical studies.’ The researchers were also able to adjust for changes in local economic opportunities over time, and observe employment even for non-resident household members who migrated temporarily for work.

 

‘As this study shows, the economic benefits of ART are very large. In South Africa, where three million people are expected to be on ART by 2020, these benefits will be widely enjoyed,’ said Professor Till Bärnighausen, Senior Epidemiologist at the Africa Centre, Associate Professor at Harvard School of Public Health, and the study’s senior author.

 

For some patients, further benefits could be attained from initiating treatment earlier, prior to HIV-related job loss. Patients in the study who lost work prior to starting ART experienced long jobless spells, over three years on average. However, the researchers were surprised to find that these patients fared no worse than other community members in returning to work after job loss.

 

‘We expected that obstacles such as incomplete health recovery, treatment side effects, barriers to labor migration, and discrimination would heavily disadvantage HIV patients on ART in returning to work,’ said Mr Bor. ‘However, we found that in cases of job loss, 90 percent of time out of work for HIV patients could be explained by factors faced by similar workers in the general population.’

 

To avoid long periods without work for HIV patients, efforts should be made to recruit people with HIV into care and treatment earlier, to avoid job loss altogether. Information on the economic benefits of ART could be used to encourage earlier HIV testing and care-seeking. Further, employers should work more closely with government health systems to encourage and facilitate HIV testing and utilisation of clinical services for HIV, for example, providing time for employees to visit the clinic.

 

The researchers highlighted the importance of pairing ART rollout with job creation policies. Although employment among HIV patients recovered nearly to baseline, the study took place in a community where only 37 percent of the working age population is employed.

 

‘By and large, HIV patients receiving ART are able to work – if there are jobs available. Much larger economic benefits of HIV treatment will be possible, with greater employment opportunities for all South Africans,’ said Mr. Bor. ‘Our findings indicate that job creation efforts should be sensitive to the needs of people with HIV on ART, but should not prioritize people with HIV over the general population.’

 

‘Most importantly,’ said Professor Marie-Louise Newell, Director of the Africa Centre, ‘the full economic benefits of HIV treatment will be realised only with a long-term commitment to universal treatment access.’

 

The study was funded by the Wellcome Trust (UK), National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (USA), and Harvard Global Health Institute (USA).

 

The study can be found at: http://content.healthaffairs.org/content/31/7/1459.abstract


author email : memelal@ukzn.ac.za

KZN FINANCIAL LITERACY CONFERENCE

KZN FINANCIAL LITERACY CONFERENCE

Empowering the nation through financial nous was the theme of the KwaZulu-Natal Financial Literacy Association’s (KZNFLA) inaugural conference held on the Pietermaritzburg campus recently.

 

Titled: “Promoting Financial Literacy: Taking Financial Education to the People”, the conference provided ordinary people with practical skills on how to manage their household and business finances and make informed financial decisions.

 

The Conference was directed by Professor Krishna Govender, the Vice-Chair of the KZN Financial Literacy Steering Committee, and featured keynote addresses by KwaZulu-Natal’s Finance MEC, Ms Ina Cronjé, the National Finance Minister, Mr Pravin Gordhan and KwaZulu-Natal Premier, Dr Zweli Mkhize.

 

Providing the background and the purpose of the Conference, Cronjé - the champion of the KZN Financial Literacy Association – reminded the audience July was savings month and the hosting of the conference was important for the improvement of financial literacy which addressed poverty.

 

‘South Africa has a poor saving record and research has shown that the major problem is in government, while loan sharks are also a cause for great concern.  We thus need training for small business and co-operatives as they have to use financial literacy as their basis. We need to invest in financial literacy for those in charge in business and work out how the subject could be a course offered in schools,’ she said.

 

Delivering the keynote address, Gordhan applauded the initiative and used the Barclay Bank scandal as an example of the dangers presented by greedy banks.

 

‘Ordinary people need to be aware how financial institutes have become monsters in the field of profiteering. We need to look at the topic of financial inclusion, since the financial sector and global banks are in crisis. People need to know the right questions to ask financial service providers, and to take charge of their lives,’ said Gordhan.

 

The success of the conference was measured by the excellent attendance by key role players in the financial sector from all over the country.
author email : jumo@ukzn.ac.za

UKZN GROOMS HIGH SCHOOL PUPILS FOR TERTIARY EDUCATION

UKZN GROOMS HIGH SCHOOL PUPILS FOR TERTIARY EDUCATION

Two hundred and forty six high school pupils from disadvantaged schools in KwaZulu-Natal who aim to study Accounting and Finance at tertiary level attended a Winter School hosted by the UKZN's Enriched Management Studies Programme (EMS).

 

The Winter School course on the Westville campus provided Grade 10, 11 and 12 pupils from rural areas such as Jozini, Dundee, Emadadeni and Nquthu with tuition in English, Mathematics, Accounting and Physical Science. The programme adopts an all-inclusive teaching and learning approach by delivering a curriculum with substantial extra learning opportunities to pupils with outstanding potential.

 

While the programme is centred on teaching and learning it also creates a platform for social interaction through sports and career guidance workshops to highlight career opportunities available to the pupils.

 

Instead of concentrating on Grade 12, the programme also recruited Grade 10 and 11 pupils in a proactive approach to help curb the high dropout rate and assist in ensuring that when pupils reach Grade 12 they are adequately prepared to handle the curriculum and Higher Education.

 

The programme is made possible through sponsorship by the Cyril Ramaphosa Education Trust, Eskom, Citi Foundation and Standard Bank.

 

EMS Programme Director, Jabulani Zikhali, said: ‘Tutors noticed that the Grade 10 pupils are on the ball while those in Grade 11 and 12 are struggling. This is an indication that not enough preparation is done in secondary education to prepare students for institutions of higher learning.  As institutions of higher learning we cannot keep blaming the school system for poor performances by students when they reach university. We have to come up with solutions to assist them improve their academic performance from an earlier stage.'

 

Grade 12 pupil, Ms Vanessa Nkabinde of Siyamukela High School in Newcastle, described the programme as very useful in preparing her for final examinations.

 

‘The revision exercises have helped us to understand things we missed in class. The tutors go through the subject in a simple and easy to understand format and if we do not understand they give us extra time after the lesson for a detailed explanation.  The programme has made me feel confident about tackling my year-end exams as I feel more prepared,’ she said.
author email : jumo@ukzn.ac.za