Korea Electric Power Cooperation Visits UKZN Vibration Research and Testing Centre

Korea Electric Power Cooperation Visits UKZN Vibration Research and Testing Centre
PhD student Mr Daniel Kubelwa demonstrates vibration research testing at UKZN to visiting representatives from Korea Electric Power Corporation.

The Vibration Research Testing Centre (VRTC) recently hosted an international delegation from the Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO): Mr Sang Hee Choi, and Mr Chen Hee Lee, both Senior managers in the department involved with Transmission Lines. The KEPCO delegation comprised four guests, one of whom was an academic from Pukyong National University (PKNU): Mr Chan Jung Ki who is assistant Professor in the Mechanical Department, and Two others from the Cheryong Industrial Corporation: Mr Eui Yeon Keum  and Mr Eun Soo Ryu respectively, Head Director and senior manager in the Research and Development department.

The delegation was also accompanied by employees of Eskom including Mr Riaz Vajeth (Senior Manager Transmission Lines), Mr Logan Pillay (Eskom Academy), Mr Bertie Jacobs (Transmission line chief technologist) and Mr Neels Henderson (transmission line design engineer).

Vajeth initiated the collaboration with KEPCO to illustrate the facilities and capabilities that they possess. The delegation first visited the Eskom and Preformed Line Products (PLP) facilities in Pietermaritzburg before coming to the VRTC located at the Westville campus.

The aim of the visit was to demonstrate UKZN’s facilities and competence in Vibration Research and Testing. Mr Pravesh Moodley co-ordinated the tours, which included touring the facilities at the Centre of Excellence for HVDC and the SMART grid.

Dr Andrew Swanson presented on high voltage DC transmission (HVDC) and flexible AC transmission system (FACTS), and gave an overview of the University with the emphasis on UKZN’s School of Engineering.

Mr Daniel Kubelwa (PhD student) presented on his research, which is focused on an ‘Experimental and Numerical Study of Aeolian Vibrations of Bundled Conductors’.

MSc student, Mr Clyton Mundenguma presented on his research work, namely: ‘The experimental and numerical analysis of the combined static and dynamic load of the High Voltage Insulators’.

The presentations were followed by a tour of the VRTC and a demonstration of the vibrating bundled conductors by Kubelwa and Moodley. The day was closed by a discussion around the Science, Technology and Innovation Park, led by Mr Logan Pillay from Eskom.

PKNU representative Mr Kim Chan-Jung said that UKZN’s technical achievements for controlling the vibration of transmission lines were excellent.

Words by: Leena Rajpal


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CLMS Academic Participates in the Erasmus+ Mobility Programme in Poland

CLMS Academic Participates in the Erasmus+ Mobility Programme in Poland
Dr Brian Majola (middle) with JU Academic staff, Dr Patrycja Siemiginowska (left) and Dr Krystyna Golonka.

School of Management, Information Technology and Governance academic, Dr Brian Kwazi Majola had the opportunity to participate in the Erasmus+ Staff Mobility programme, the first ever student and staff exchange programme born out of the collaboration between UKZN and the Jagiellonian University (JU) in Poland.

The program allows UKZN students at Masters and PhD level to conduct their research studies at the Polish university for a duration of five months until July 2018. Dr Majola was one of the three academics who were given the opportunity to spend five days at the University and deliver lectures to students at JU which is in line with Goal 1 of the UKZN Strategic Plan which promotes internationalisation where staff is encouraged to enrich their academic experience at international universities by facilitating mobility exchanges.

‘I was delighted to be part of the experience. What I realised from the experience is that UKZN is on par, we are now collaborating and competing with first-world universities because the facilities and academic atmosphere is similar to ours. The sad part is that little is known about Higher Education in Africa and its influence, as 53% of international students are coming from China, India and South Korea. ’

The highlight of his visit was interacting with academic staff and students at JU and presenting an Africa Day lecture titled: The Employer-Employee Relationship and Its Dynamics in the New South Africa, where he took the opportunity to educate the Polish about Africa as a continent as well as South African lifestyles and cultures.

Majola adds that he learned a lot from Dr Patrycja Siemiginowska concerning Higher Education in Poland. He also used the opportunity to explore staff development plans, exchange publication ideas, gather strategies on transforming education as well as form a network community.

Words by: Reatlehile Moeti


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Albinism Should Not be a Limiting Factor

Albinism Should Not be a Limiting Factor
Raising awareness about albinism and skin care.

The University of KwaZulu-Natal’s (UKZN) Department of Dermatology recently partook in an outreach initiative to raise awareness about albinism and skin care. This event was a joint initiative by the Albinism Society of KwaZulu-Natal, UKZN’s Department of Dermatology and Gagasi FM. The event, held at Durban City Hall, was attended by a large number of adults and children with albinism as well as their family members and friends.

The event was supported by Biersdorf and Galderma companies that sponsored sun protective hats and sunscreen products for those who attended the event.

During the event, dermatologists focused on skin care and protection against the sun as a means of preventing skin cancer.

Skin is classified as the largest body organ which protects against infections, sun damage, water loss, and aids with temperature regulation amongst other functions. Within the skin there are melanocytes which are the cells that produce the natural pigment “melanin” thus protecting our skin from the ultraviolet rays, which can cause many types of skin cancer.

‘Avoiding sun exposure is crucial in Skin Cancer Prevention, paying attention to early warning signs like red , itchy  and blistering  of the skin and attending your local skin clinic for regular six monthly skin checks so skin cancer can be picked up early is highly recommendable,’  expressed Dr Sishange, a Dermatologist based at the  King Edward Hospital.

Albinism is an inherited condition where an individual is unable to produce normal colouring of the skin, hair, and eyes (due to the lack of melanin pigment). The condition can be limited to the eyes or may involve both the eyes and the skin. People with Albinism lack this pigment and therefore are susceptible to various types of skin cancer.

‘Patients with albinism have always been ostracized and not much is known and understood about albinism. As a Dermatology department we recognise the importance of increasing awareness and understanding about this genetic skin and eye condition so that we can fight against discrimination and stigmatization,’ said Professor Ncoza Dlova, Head of the UKZN’s Department of Dermatology.

Chairperson of Albinism Society of KwaZulu-Natal, and UKZN lecturer Bhekisa Maxwell Thabethe encouraged young people with albinism to excel in education and be comfortable in their skin. ‘People with albinism are capable of achieving anything they wish for or dream of in life and their skin condition should not be a limiting factor.’

Seventy-four-year-old Queen Kubheka from Dabeka Township said that the killing of people with albinism is inhumane and a barbaric act that has no place in a democratic society.

12 Facts  to know about Albinism

  1. Albinism is not contagious.
  2. Albinism is an inherited condition. It is not passed through physical contact. Inherited conditions are due to variations in genes which determine our characteristics, such as pigmentation. Albinism requires two copies of an altered gene and for this reason if two people with albinism have children together, all their children will have albinism.
  3. People with Albinism are more likely to develop skin cancer.
  4. People with Albinism lack melanin pigment which protects the skin from sun damage and further development of skin cancers. This is why sun protection (clothes and hats that cover skin, avoiding sun, and sunscreen lotions) are extremely important.
  5. People with albinism have poor eyesight.
  6. Almost all people with albinism have some visual problems but these can be overcome with corrective lenses or adapted teaching techniques. People with albinism have exactly the same learning capacity and potential as everyone else.
  7. Albinism cuts across all races.
  8. Actually, albinism occurs in every ethnic group and all around the world. It even occurs in animals. Some areas, such as sub-Saharan Africa, have higher rates than others.
  9. It is important that healthcare workers do refer children with albinism to the nearest dermatology clinic from a very early age so that the parents can be educated on how to care for children with albinism. They should also be seen every six months for screening for skin cancer which will aid in early detection.
  10. Prevention in the forms of daily broad spectrum sunscreen use, protective clothing, hats and glasses and avoidance of the sun between 10h00-15h00 is crucial.
  11. Early visit to an eye specialist can also assist and avoid eye surgery if correction of the eye problems is attended to at an early stage.
  12. People with albinism are also advised to avoid intermarriages as this increases the chances of off-springs who also have Albinism.

The Department of Dermatology and the Albinism Society of KwaZulu-Natal plan to hold a second albinism awareness event in kwaDabeka Township in September.

Words by: Lihle Sosibo


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The Come Back Begins!!

The Come Back Begins!!
Enactus UKZN team representatives at the MTN and Barloworld competitions in Johannesburg.

Enactus UKZN is ready to make a comeback and in a big way. The group has undergone a massive makeover with about 90% of its members being new to the team.

After its suspension in 2015 for failing the team audit conducted by Enactus South Africa, the team is motivated and committed to flying the UKZN flag high.

Enactus UKZN will represent the University at three special competitions, namely: Unilever, the MTN ICT challenge and Barloworld competitions.

The team is no stranger to competition having won the national championships five times. By virtue of winning the national competition, Enactus UKZN then went on to represent the country at the Enactus World Cup.

Enactus–UKZN is currently working on eight projects: the Jonga Phezulu UKZN Agrihub Farming project, Bakhesi Biogas, Isintu, IziMpande, Pallet Project, AloeGo, Umtate Wamabovu and Sonwabile project (potato sack farming).

The Jonga Phezulu and Sonwabile projects have made it to the top eight of the Unilever competition, the Umtate Wamabovu project made it to the finals of the MTN competition while the Sonwabile project made it through to the finals of the Barloworld competition.

Enactus is an international non-profit organisation that brings together students, academics and business leaders committed to using entrepreneurial action to improve the quality of life and standard of living for people in need. Not only does the global network transform lives, it helps students develop the kind of talent and perspective that is essential to leadership in an even-more complicated and challenging world. Enactus has established the largest global business and Higher Education network in the world. This unique network brings together the knowledge of professional business educators and the expertise of business leaders to focus the potential of university students preparing for leadership roles in business.

At the end of each year, the Enactus team participates in various competitions that provide a platform for teams to present the results of their projects, which are evaluated by business leaders serving as judges.

‘We hope that the team will reclaim its glory the same way they did when they won R500 000 for one of the projects in 2015. We truly believe that indeed the comeback has begun!’

Words by: Nomqhele JD Dube


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UKZN’s School of Engineering Gets Sporty!

UKZN’s School of Engineering Gets Sporty!
Chemical Engineering proved the winning team at the annual Engineering Sports Day.

It was a day of fun and games at the 2017 School of Engineering Sports Day, held at the Gate 10 Sports Grounds on 15 June. With all Engineering disciplines represented as well as staff from the College Office, it was quickly a case of game on!

To kick off the games and set the pace for the sporty challenges ahead, teams warmed up by jumping over cones.  The Civil and Mechanical Engineers beamed blissfully when they took home the tug of war challenge, beating the School office.  But the team of the day with their attitude, vibe and competitive spirit were the the Chemical Engineers, who soon rolled into the lead, winning the second round of the games making them the leading team and overall winners.

Engineering Sports Day is a team-building initiative aimed at building camaraderie between the various Disciplines within the School. It proved to be an enjoyable and fun day with prizes being awarded to all who participated.  Next year the challenge will be on!

Words and photograph by: Manqoba Hadebe


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Optometry Staff out in the Cold

Optometry Staff out in the Cold
Optometry team with Team Attitude facilitators.

In a bid to improve efficiency and communication, Optometry staff at the School of Health Sciences braved the cold weather and participated in interactive fun outdoor team building activities at Emoyeni Lodge in Camperdown.

While the the activities may look like fun and games, they were designed to improve communication skills, leadership, trust, and to promote healthy relationships among staff.

Team Attitude, a Durban-based organisation facilitated the activities.

Staff were divided into two teams - Team Sunshine and Team Dynamite – which competed in mind stimulating games such as match puzzles, riddles, quad bike, jigsaw puzzle and blindfold.

These activities required all the participants to showcase proper planning abilities and the formulation of good strategies. Both teams were committed and there was a high level of competition.

Optometry Academic Leader, Dr Diane Van Staden said her team enjoyed the event, ‘Despite the cold weather the company warmed the day. It was great for academics and support staff to leave behind the stresses of work and engage in fun and interactive activities which we all enjoyed.’

‘The country setting away from the city and anything familiar was also refreshing,’ she added.

The team-building enabled the Optometry team to share, explore, clarify and re-define their relationships as they sought to improve some of the traits needed in the execution of their duties.

Words by: Nombuso Dlamini


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UKZN Boasts Youngest Dean in South Africa

UKZN Boasts Youngest Dean in South Africa
Professor Thabo Msibi.

At age 34, Professor Thabo Msibi of the College of Humanities is the youngest Dean in South Africa. Msibi was recently appointed the Dean and Head of the School of Education at UKZN.

Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training, Mr Mduduzi Manana congratulated Msibi saying, ‘His appointment aptly coincides with our Department’s clarion call for the urgent revitalisation of the academic profession in order to speed up the transformation agenda of the Higher Education sector. We truly share in his hard-earned joy and I’m proud to have been his university mate in the early 2000s at UKZN.’

The National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) Executive Chairperson, Mr Sifiso Mtsweni also congratulated Msibi saying, ‘his journey tells a tale of a youth committed to academia and transformation of society through social cohesion and nation building.’

Msibi boasts expertise in curriculum studies, with a profound focus on understanding how marginalisation, prejudice, and discrimination impact on people’s constructions of their own identities and also how people with marginalised identities experience institutions of learning, be it at basic or Higher Education levels.

Through exploring the nature of human sexuality in relation to schooling, Msibi’s work more broadly tackles social justice issues in the context of curriculum development and implementation.

His life mentor Mr Crispin Hemson, who was UKZN’s Head of the School of Education when Msibi was completing his degree in education, inspired his attraction to academia. Hemson witnessed tremendous potential in Msibi, through his ability to write well, debate exceptionally and natural passion for his craft.

Msibi’s inquisitive mind gave him a good grounding as an academic. However, his path into academia was never planned; he walked into it because of opportunity, experiences and the circumstances he found himself in. Starting as a tutor while pursuing his honours, Msibi was offered a Fulbright Scholarship to study overseas.

He now has the following degrees under his belt: a Bachelor of Education degree (UKZN), a Bachelor of Education Honours (UKZN), a Master of Education from Columbia University and a PhD from the University of Cambridge.

Msibi looks to create social cohesion, however not with the aim of making everyone the same but rather to embrace each other’s differences. He works to use people’s differences as a mechanism of strength instead of an obstacle.

He says: ‘My passion is to see a transformed institution that appreciates and values every person that comes into its space. I am heavily invested in a project of unlearning, a project of what bell hooks calls transgression– where you attempt to try to bring about particular conscientisation on people.’

‘My understanding is that education is not neutral; it is political and everything you do within education is informed by our history. Education is also informed by our experiences. When we come into a space, we enter a space which has people who have diverse experiences; the aim then should be to make productive sense of this difference and try to create a new platform to understand each other more and to appreciate each other more.’

To effect this change, Msibi has initiated an organisation called the Community Development Association (CDA). This is an outreach programme, which undertakes work on a voluntary basis in disadvantaged schools. Students at UKZN and other institutions drive this establishment. They design projects, raise funds for their creations, and then go to selected schools to implement the vision of their project design.

‘I believe in youth doing youth work’, says the youthful Professor, and indeed being young and free is more than just a right to Msibi, it’s an inbuilt responsibility and having the opportunity to give back, which is his act of gratitude.

Words by: Ziphezinhle Silindile Biyela

Photograph: Melissa Mungroo


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Umfundi weziqu zobuNzululwazi uhlomule ngendondo i-Canon Collins “Scholar of Scholars” yonyaka wezi-2017

Umfundi weziqu zobuNzululwazi uhlomule ngendondo i-Canon Collins “Scholar of Scholars” yonyaka wezi-2017
UMnu Phila Msimang noMeluleki wakhe uSolwazi David Spurrett.

Click here for the English version

Umfundi wase-UKZN owenza iziqu zeMastazi ezifundweni zobuNzululwazi uMnu Phila Mfundo Msimang  umenyezelwe njengohlomule ngendondo i- Canon Collins ‘Scholar of Scholars’ yonyaka wezi-2017.

Le ndondo ixhaswe ababengabafundi basenyuvesi be-Canon Collins Scholarship.

Abaklomelayo bakhethwa ababengabafundi ukuze bakhethe futhi baseke abafundi abasebenza ngokuzimisela ababonakala njengabakhombisa ukuzimisela futhi ababamba iqhaza kumbono wesikhwama womphakathi ovulelekile nonobulungiswa.’

‘Ukuhlomula ngale ndondo kuyimpumelelo enkulu. Kuyangikhuthaza ukuthi ngenze okungaphezu kwalokhu. Bengingeke ngikwenze lokhu ngaphandle kosizo longumeluleki wami, uSolwazi David Spurrett,’ kusho uMsimang.

Ucwaningo lwakhe lweMastazi luhlola ukuhlaziywa kwethiyori yemiphakathi yezinhlanga mayelana nezezinkolelo. ‘IMastazi yami ibheka izinkinga ezihambelana nezobuhlanga nokuthi kungani amathiyori ngezobuhlanga engaba wusizo ekwelekeleleni ukuqonda ngalesi sihloko. Ezifundweni zami ngaphinde ngabheka ukukhula kwezinhlelo zokuqonda lapho bengigxile ekutholeni ukuthi izitshalo zinamthelela muni ekuqondeni.’

Ekhuluma ngokubaluleka kwemifundaze efana ne-Canon Collins Scholarship, uthe:  ‘le mifundaze ivala isikhala sokuxhaswa ngezimali esisala sivulekile ezikhungweni zethu. Lemifundaze inika abafundi ithuba lokuba bakwazi ukukhokhela izifundo zabo futhi bagxile ezifundweni zabo. Lokhu kuxhaswa sekungikhulule emsebenzini ebengiwenza eceleni futhi manje sengigxile ocwaningweni. Ukuphikelela ukusebenzela impokophelo yakho kuyasiza kakhulu. Ngiyabonga, kwabakwa- Canon Collins.’

UMsimang useshicilele kaningana kumajenali abuyekeziwe, lapho ebhala ngezihloko ezihlanganisa imethafiziksi kanye nesifundozimpawu.

Ubuye athole nesikhathi sokulungiselela ucwaningo lwakhe lweziqu zobudokotela, ezinesihloko esihlokweni sokuqonda nokumelwa kanye nesifundongqondo ngamakhono ezitshalo.  

Ibhalwe ngu: Melissa Mungroo

Izithombe ngu: Melissa Mungroo


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UKZN Academics Recognised as Top African Researchers

UKZN Academics Recognised as Top African Researchers
Professor Onisimo Mutanga and Dr John Odindi.

Professor Onisimo Mutanga, Acting Dean and Head of the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences (SAEES) and Dr John Odindi, senior lecturer in Geography, were recognised as being among the best scientific contributors in Africa in a publication launched at a celebration of Africa Day, by the Minister of Science and Technology Naledi Pandor in Freedom Park in Pretoria.

Mutanga was recognised for his expertise in vegetation pattern and condition analysis in the face of global and land-use change using remote sensing. He integrates ecology, biodiversity conservation and remote sensing to model the impact of forest fragmentation, pests and diseases and invasive species on agricultural and natural ecosystems. He received his PhD from Wageningen University in 2004.

Mutanga joined UKZN in 2005, and has supervised more than 16 PhD and 28 Master’s students in the field of Geo-Information Science (GIS). He has more than 120 publications to his name. He holds an NRF B-rating and serves in several national and international research committees. He has been an editor and guest editor of a number of international journals and serves on several national and international research committees. He has collaborated on several projects concerning land cover/use in rural and urban environments, livestock production in a changing rural landscape, indigenous forest fragmentation and biodiversity management. He is a member of organisations like the African Association of the Remote Sensing of Environment (AARSE), among others.

Mutanga’s research has included the development of innovative remote sensing approaches for providing timely and up to date information for improved proactive intervention measures in managing resources. His research focus has gradually shifted towards the automation and operationalisation of remotely sensed data in forestry, agriculture and rangeland monitoring.

Odindi’s general interest is in applied remote sensing with specific focus on vegetation and invasive plant species mapping, urban green and thermal ecology, climate change, and remote sensing applications in precision agriculture.

Odindi is involved in the teaching of environmental systems, remote sensing, GIS and research methods. He has presented papers at a variety of conferences and was previously at the University of Fort Hare (UFH) before coming to UKZN in 2011. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science at Kenyatta University in Kenya, his Honours and Master’s at UFH, and his PhD at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU). He has more than 40 publications and has supervised more than 15 postgraduate students. He is a reviewer for several journals and research organisations, and collaborates with several local and international universities and research organisations that include the Universities of the Witwatersrand and Khartoum, the South African National Space Agency (SANSA), and the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE).

Words by: Christine Cuénod


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Masters Candidate Establishes Integrated Environmental Management Student Mentorship Programme

Masters Candidate Establishes Integrated Environmental Management Student Mentorship Programme
Mr Kusasalethu Sithole officially launching the ISMP at the IAIAsa National Conference.

A Masters candidate in the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences (SAEES) has established a student mentorship programme aimed at assisting Environmental Science graduates.

Mr Kusasalethu Sithole, who is also an intern at the Institute of Natural Resources (INR), established the International Association for Impact Assessment South Africa (IAIAsa) Student Mentorship Programme (ISMP) in the hope that it will provide students with experience and opportunities as they connect with mentors working in the Integrated Environmental Management (IEM) field.

The ISMP was trialled in 2016 with eight mentors and 10 mentees (including three UKZN students). As of 2017, the ISMP is being offered to the wider IEM community. Sithole and his team have successfully increased the participation and geographical reach of the programme.

The ISMP targets IEM mentors working in government, consultancies, research institutes, academia, and industrial corporates. All mentors volunteer their time and experience, spending 80 hours within ISMP’s nine-month timeframe providing mentorship support and giving the mentees an opportunity to assist with tasks or projects they are engaged with.

‘Too often students have to make big career decisions without having had any first-hand interaction with their potential working environments, and are required to acquire experience beyond the limits of university in order to secure employment,’ said Sithole.

‘They face the dilemma of either going into the job market for experience or furthering their studies; the ISMP is tailor-made for environmental students who wish to acquire exposure and experience of their working environments without jeopardising their postgraduate studies.’

Sithole is also a co-founder and co-Director of Geographers for Change, a registered Non-Profit Organisation (NPO), and runs the ISMP with Sue George, IAIAsa’s Operational Manager. The IAIAsa NEC and provincial IAIAsa committees provide necessary authority and support in order to work towards their goal of preparing students for the professional sector.

Sithole hopes the programme will grow to become a calendar event in almost all environmental departments in South Africa (including universities, government and companies).

Sithole also sits on the National Executive Committee (NEC) of IAIAsa as a National Student Representative.

Interested potential participants will find the annual calls for ISMP participants on the IAIAsa website and/or IAIAsa Facebook page. The call for 2018 ISMP will be issued in the last quarter of 2017.

Words by: Christine Cuénod


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Interdisciplinary Partnerships - Fighting Psychocutanoues Disorders

Interdisciplinary Partnerships - Fighting Psychocutanoues Disorders
UKZN experts in the Psychiatry and Dermatology fields share skills to fight psychocutaneous disorders.

Experts from Psychiatry and Dermatology converged to put their heads together on how to help patients who suffer from psychocutaneous disorders at a recent Symposium hosted by the College of Health Sciences.

This interdisciplinary tea session, hosted at the Nelson Mandela School of Medicine, was the brainchild of Professors Bonga Chiliza and Ncoza Dlova.

Chiliza, the Head of Psychiatry at UKZN holds an MBChB degree from UKZN with a specialisation in Psychiatry and a PhD qualification from the University of Stellenbosch. Dlova, who is the Head of Dermatology, holds an MBChB with a specialisation in Dermatology and a PhD qualification from UKZN.

They observed that at least one third of patients attending skin clinics are impacted by emotional and psychological factors and as a result an interaction between mind and skin was noted.

A psychocutaneous disorder is classified into two things, one is how health and psychological factors can affect the skin. ‘So people with skin conditions like for example acne, will start picking on it and thus making it worse or some people will have no skin conditions originally but when they are stressed they will start plucking their hair, scratching their skin so then that causes skin problems.’

Pertaining to the diagnosis of this ailment doctors investigate the history of the patient in order to ascertain environmental contributors. Additionally, clinical suspicion, psychiatric assessments, confirmatory tests and typical features of the dermatoses are observed.

The key objective in this gathering was to promote the early diagnosis and referral of patients with psychocutaneous disorders to Psychiatrists. This transfer often proves problematic as there is a negative connotation attached to seeing a Psychiatrist. Therefore, it was concluded that collaboration at the point of contact with a patient was the best execution going forward.

The experts were able to learn from each other and move forward armed with practical and applicable knowledge.

Words and photograph by: Ziphezinhle Silindile Biyela


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Chimbari to Serve on Tackling Infections to Benefit Africa (TIBA) Project

Chimbari to Serve on Tackling Infections to Benefit Africa (TIBA) Project
Professor Moses Chimbari.

UKZN College of Health Sciences’ Dean of Research, Professor Moses Chimbari has been appointed as a co-deputy director of the Tackling Infections to Benefit Africa (TIBA) project, a £7million high impact and stakeholder-driven project.

The project is led by the University of Edinburgh and involves nine African countries, namely: South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Ghana, Tanzania and Sudan. In Swahili the word tiba means “to cure infection”.

TIBA aims to harness the expertise and technical capability in biomedical and social sciences at the University of Edinburgh and in African partner countries to reduce the burden and threat of infectious diseases in Africa. It is envisaged that this can be achieved by informing and influencing health policy and strengthening health systems.

‘I am naturally excited and humbled to have been requested to serve on the TIBA Directorate,’ said Chimbari. The Project’s directorate consists of Professors Mark Woolhouse as Director and Chimbari and Francisca Mutapi as co-Deputy Directors.

The team’s overall responsibilities are to oversee the success of the project, engage in the TIBA activities, and achieve the milestones and deliverables as required by the funder.

He said this Africa-led, wide-ranging, multi-disciplinary research programme explores and draws lessons from the ways that different African health systems tackle infectious diseases.

‘TIBA will contribute towards achievement of one of the flagship programmes (African Health) articulated in the developing Strategy of the UKZN,’ said Chimbari. The project, which because of its nature, is referred to as programme will run for four years with funding from NIHR Global Health Research. ‘During this period many PhD students and Postdoctoral Fellows from participating countries will receive training at UKZN,’ he added.

Chimbari was part of the project initiative from its inception having actively participated in the writing phase leading to submission and in the review process by responding to reviewers’ queries.

When the project was approved, he was the South African component PI and responsible for co-ordination of the community engagement strategy across the nine countries.

As part of the Directorate, Chimbari will also serve on the project Steering Committee that is constituted of nine members. The Steering Committee is responsible for overseeing the £7M budget over a four year period. ‘Eighty percent of the grant money will be spent in Africa,’ declared Chimbari. In addition to these responsibilities, he is expected to deliver on the research component for South Africa and Zimbabwe.

‘I must admit that it is difficult for me to balance work and family and I do concede to the point that my work encroaches into my family space,’ he revealed. This is because of the large number of postgraduate and postdoctoral students that he is currently supervising in addition to his work as the College Dean of Research as well as his involvement in other international and African initiatives.

He also holds other positions including being Chair of the Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) of the Southern African Science Service Centre for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Management (SASSCAL) programme and Deputy President of the International Association for Ecology and Health (IAEH). Chimbari is also a Board Member of the Biomedical Research and Training Institute (BRTI).

Chimbari is motivated by seeing other people, especially the youth, succeeding partly because of his contribution to their research. ‘The positive feedback I get from those that I assist is most rewarding and gives me the drive to do more. In my 27 years research career, I have developed great networks that provide me with many opportunities,’ he said.

‘My personal motto is simply “Nothing is impossible with Moses”. I believe there is always a way of solving problems, no matter how big and complex they may be,’ he added.

Words by: Nombuso Dlamini


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UKZN and South Methodist University Present Musical, Westside Story

UKZN and South Methodist University Present Musical, <em>Westside Story</em>
The main cast leads of Westside Story at this year’s UKZN/Southern Methodist University collaboration.

UKZN’s Opera Studio and Choral Academy (OSCA) together with Southern Methodist University (SMU), Texas, USA recently presented Westside Story at UKZN’s Jubilee Hall. The show is a musical theatre production written by Leonard Bernstein with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.

Professor Barbara Hill Moore from SMU is the Musical Director and organiser of the production in collaboration with Director/Choreographer Mr Roger Bennett Riggle, coach accompanists, Jason Smith and David Smith together with UKZN Music lecturer Mr Lionel Mkhwanazi. The Westside Story performance is the outcome of a class project in Musical Theatre Workshop led by Professor Hill Moore at SMU.

The story takes place in the Upper West Side neighbourhood of New York City in the mid-1950s. The story, with a modern Romeo and Juliet theme, covers the rivalry between the Jets and the Sharks, two teenage stree gangs of different ethnic backgrounds. The members of the Sharks, from Puerto Rico, are taunted by the Jets, a white gang. Tony, a former member of the Jets is best friends with the gang leader, Riff. Tony falls in love with Maria, the sister of Bernardo, the leader of the Sharks.

‘It is said that this focus on social problems marked a turning point in American musical theatre. Our students worked together to understand the relevance of the message of West Side Story in today’s culture both in South Africa and in America,’ said Hill Moore.

She states that the Westside Story project is one of five projects presented since 2011. ‘It introduces SMU students to this uniquely American form of music, the work involved in learning and producing it through close collaboration with students and staff at UKZN.’

‘It also provides an education about South Africa, its people, and the similarities of the cultural and social impact possible through this genre on both societies.  We have produced Carousel, South Pacific, and Oklahoma and this is the second Westside Story production with the first one opening in 2011,’ added Hill Moore.

Professor Hill Moore is a frequent visitor to South Africa.  In 2006, she directed the opera Porgy and Bess by George Gershwin in a similar collaboration with students from UKZN. Having worked with UKZN students in past years since 2000, she has offered VISA support and Full Bursary opportunities to 19 students for graduate study at SMU.

Although these musical productions began five years ago as a class in the SMU Study Abroad program, Hill Moore hopes this collaboration will further cultivate cultural exchange opportunities for students and faculty, provide an annual joint theatre production and offer an annual SMU alumni travel event stimulating interest in the South African History studies program at SMU.

‘The students and faculty were excited about working on this beautiful repertory and presenting it to the community of KwaZulu-Natal for the second time.  The show was enjoyed, embraced and understood and we hope that learning this ageless story and music will improve their ability to understand, articulate, tolerate, and respond respectfully to the cultural differences they experience while collaborating with UKZN staff and peers,’ she said.

According to UKZN Music student Ms Ayanda Nkosi, the production enabled her to grow as a performer. ‘This is a learning experience for both UKZN and SMU students. We have enjoyed working on this production and getting to know the SMU students.’

SMU student Ms Neha Husein added: ‘It’s been an amazing experience to work on this production and with the cast. It was particularly exciting to see the progress and growth we’ve made. We’ve learnt so much from each other, even a bit of isiZulu, and we will be keeping in touch with each other.’

Words by: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Asokaran Rajh


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Common Painkillers may Raise Risk of Heart Attack

Common Painkillers may Raise Risk of Heart Attack
Professor Mahmoud Soliman.

Biochemistry expert and UKZN academic Professor Mahmoud Soliman has called for more awareness on the benefits and risks of self-medication.

‘While you don’t need a prescription for schedule 1 and 2 medicines, in South Africa these medicines “must” be dispensed by a Pharmacist, and pharmacists are required by law to write down your name and the name and quantity of the medicine,’ said Soliman who is also the Dean of the School of Health Sciences.

He was reacting to the findings of an international study that linked taking of common over the counter (OTC) painkillers to increased risk of heart attacks.

Conducted by researchers from the University of Montreal, the study revealed that ‘the likelihood of experiencing a heart attack was calculated to increase by an average of 20% to 50%’ in people who took OTC drugs when compared with someone not taking the drugs, regardless of the dosage.

The data linked 5 forms of painkillers – ibuprofen, celecoxib, diclofenac, naproxen, and rofecoxib – to heart problems. This finding raises the question of the safety of over-the-counter (OTC) drugs. In South Africa OTC medicines include unscheduled medicines (schedule 0) and schedule 1 and 2 (S1 and S2) medicines. Medications for cold and flu, antihistamines and anti-inflammatories are considered schedule 1 and 2 medicines.

Soliman explained that self-medication products are those not requiring a doctor’s prescription and sold to consumers to be taken at their own risk. He also added that responsible self-medication can be used to prevent and treat symptoms and ailments that do not need medical consultation.

However, he raised issues that need to be taken into account when self-medicating. ‘Any self-medication product should be safe for use, but self-medication drugs are known to interact with many prescription-only drugs, alcohol and foods,’ he said.

‘In many instances, OTC medicines are being misused by drug addicts. One common example of this are cough syrups that contains codeine or sedatives,’ continued Soliman.

According to Soliman, there is also the danger of heavy reliance placed on OTC analgesics like paracetamol. He pointed out that even continuous use of normal doses of analgesics has long been associated with chronic renal failure.

However, he pointed out that responsible self-medication can be used to prevent and treat symptoms and ailments that do not need medical consultation or oversight. ‘Sometimes patients are not able to afford medical consultation or healthcare services are out of reach.’ he added:  ‘Self-medication can facilitate access to medicines and reduce healthcare costs. However, this needs to be in conjunction with more health awareness programmes in order to raise the community knowledge on the benefits and risks of self-medication’.

He suggested that combined efforts of the pharmaceutical industry and regulators must provide products that are safe, effective, good value for money, and with sufficient relevant information that can be understood by the average person.

Words by: Nombuso Dlamini


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Kingdom of the Netherlands Fosters Multi-Party Collaboration with UKZN, DUT, TU Delft, Erasmus University and eThekwini Municipality

Kingdom of the Netherlands Fosters Multi-Party Collaboration with UKZN, DUT, TU Delft, Erasmus University and eThekwini Municipality
Dutch Ambassador, HE Marisa Gerards, (2nd from top right) with participants of #cocreatemycity.

Innovation, entrepreneurship and skills are key drivers of social and economic advancement in the 21st century. Therefore, value-creation by tapping the creative energy and enthusiasm of students through synergistic collaboration is what the #cocreatemycity project intends to achieve.

An initiative of the Netherlands Embassy in South Africa, the aim of #cocreatemycity is to foster public-private partnerships involving multiple stakeholders.  These will include, eThekwini Municipality, the University of KwaZulu-Natal (AfriHub), the Technical University Delft (Netherlands), Erasmus University (EUR), the Durban University of Technology and Dutch company, Vopak.

The project will link postgraduate students from the participating institutions in an intercontinental collaboration and exchange programme to generate solutions in the shared challenges of health, logistics, energy, agri-food, water, education and entrepreneurship.

Through its involvement in the project, the eThekwini Municipality has a unique opportunity to benefit from the synergy of young minds by presenting a critical challenge that will be addressed through multi-disciplinary collaboration.

#cocreatemycity which was launched by the Netherlands Embassy in Johannesburg in 2015, not only promotes international understanding, but also provides valuable opportunities for students to apply their intellectual skills to real life challenges.  In so doing, the project will nurture the thought leaders and decision-makers of tomorrow.

Words by: Rudi Kimmie


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