Study on Sexual Education among Life Orientation Educators at Secondary Schools

Study on Sexual Education among Life Orientation Educators at Secondary Schools
Ms Busisiwe Khathi graduated with a Master’s in Nursing degree.

Ms Busisiwe Khathi of the Discipline of Nursing has graduated with a Master’s in Nursing degree with a dissertation titled: “An Exploration of Educators’ Experiences in Implementing Sexuality Education in selected eThekwini-based Secondary Schools”.

Khathi’s study, supervised by the Dean of the School of Nursing and Public Health, Professor Busisiwe Ncama, posed the critical question of how educators were identified and selected to present the subject of sexual education in Life Orientation (LO) to secondary schools.

Some of the questions Khathi posed in the study were: What training did the educator(s) receive to offer the sexuality education/ LO programme? What content of sexuality did they cover in classes when teaching LO? How have the educators experienced teaching sexuality education/ LO so far? What support do they receive and what barriers do they encounter?

The study was conducted at eThekwini-based secondary schools, north of Durban. Using an exploratory qualitative approach to explore educators’ experiences in implementing sexuality education, educators’ experiences were examined through in-depth face to face interviews. Altogether, seven Life Orientation (LO) educators were interviewed in this study.

‘The Department of Education (DoE) trains and develops LO educators continuously through the educators’ network and the results showed this,’ said Khathi. ‘It was learned from the LO educators that there are four learning outcomes in Life Orientation teaching and that sexuality education is embedded in Health Promotion or Personal Wellbeing learning outcomes. Some LO educators commented that not much emphasis is placed on sexuality education. They indicated the need for educators to be trained on short skills courses like HIV counselling and Rape victim management.’ 

Some educators experienced difficulties in dealing with the HIV positive learners and those who have been sexually abused. This sensitive aspect thus challenged the DoE to gradually train and update the educators on short courses like HIV counselling, dealing with rape and teenage pregnancies to improve LO educators’ confidence when faced with such situations in a classroom during LO education.

Educators had expressed that having sexuality education embedded in another aspect of LO limited the information that was given, as the educators are guided by the DoE guidelines. ‘Health education is considered crucial for the prevention of disease and the promotion of better health,’ said Khathi. ‘The DoE needs to develop a deeper understanding of the educators experiences in relation to the significant deviation in scholars based on what they learn and what they do. In an effort to understand the contradiction between what is known and what is practiced when providing sexuality education, this study explores the experiences of educators in providing the Life Orientation (LO) education to understand the environment in which they operate.’

Khathi is currently based at a local institutionalised facility at eThekwini Municipality – Red Hill. She is hoping that with the new certificate in Nursing, she would be able to become more involved in community outreach projects to get to the needs of the community. In her spare time, she enjoys networking and travelling.

-        Zakia Jeewa


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Rwandan Study Aims to Raise Malaria Awareness for Pregnant Women and Children

Rwandan Study Aims to Raise Malaria Awareness for Pregnant Women and Children
Mrs Clemence Nishimwe.

Mrs Clemence Nishimwe of the School of Nursing and Public Health at UKZN has graduated with her Master’s degree in Nursing. Her thesis was titled: “Evaluation of the Effectiveness of Malaria Health Education Program performed by Community Health Workers for Pregnant Women and Children 0-5 years in a elected Primary Health Care Centre in Rwanda”.

In Rwanda, there has been a substantial increase in malaria control activities with malaria health education being one of the prevention strategies in infected areas.

With millions of nets being provided for the population, cases of malaria in 2008 dropped from 772 195 to 227 015 in 2011. Due to a growing population of 12 million people, the mortality rate for children under five was 56 deaths per 1 000 for 2011, with chronic malnutrition being one of the main causes that leave children stunted and with weak immune systems.

Although community health interventions are a way of bringing services closer to the people, thus increasing coverage of basic curative and preventive care, community effectiveness trials are both necessary and feasible in order to make further progress with reducing maternal and child mortality.

Nishimwe’s study, supervised by Dr Jennifer Chipps, aims to contribute to the evaluation of Health education on Malaria control provided by Community Health Workers (CHW) intervention and to establish what elements are necessary for CHWs to be effective in Primary Health Care in Rwanda. It also aims to provide some information on whether malaria mortality and morbidity have been reduced since the formal health education programmes have been introduced.

Nishimwe evaluated the effectiveness of malaria health education interventions given to pregnant women and children aged between 0-5 years by community Health workers at a selected Primary Health Care (PHC) centre in Rwanda. Using a positivist quantitative evaluation research method, there were two components: a descriptive process audit of the Health education programme and a historical control quasi-experimental outcome evaluation study based on a traditional clinic record review.

‘The process audit included a review of the Community Health Workers (CHWs) records for the year 2011. The outcome study included a review of the malaria clinical records for pregnant women and children 0-5 years old from 2006 until 2011,’ said Nishimwe.

‘The findings showed that although sufficient nets were being distributed, only half of the CHWs involved in the treatment of Malaria were supplied with adequate medication. There were some concerns regarding the treatment and testing of malaria as the Primary Health Care Centres only provided 20 workers in charge of community based infant illness.

‘With a percentage of the population affected by malnutrition and little access to healthcare and medication, results indicated that there had been a reduction in the rates of malaria in pregnant women and children 0-5 years presenting to the PHC. Overall, the Health Education programme is being implemented as it should be with an adequate number of CHWs who are receiving appropriate selection and training.’

Nishimwe is currently working at Kibogora Polytechnic, Nyamasheke District in Rwanda. She is the Programme Leader of Health Sciences, involved in Administration and Education. ‘My long-term goals involve growing with the Kibogora Polytechnic organisation where I can continue to learn, take on additional responsibilities, and by contributing as much as I can. In addition, I would like to improve the knowledge of nurses and midwives to ensure better service for the future health of the community.’

-        Zakia Jeewa


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Music has No Effect on the Performance of Well-Trained Cyclists, Study Finds

Music has No Effect on the Performance of Well-Trained Cyclists, Study Finds
Mr Barry Dyer.

Music has no effect on the performance of well-trained cyclists, a study by Mr Barry Dyer - who graduated with a Master’s degree in Sport Science – has revealed.

‘The effects of music tempo on performance, psychological and physiological variables during 20km cycling in well-trained cyclists was conducted at UKZN’s Human Performance Laboratory at the Discipline of Biokinetics, Exercise and Leisure,’ said Dyer.

‘It involved 10 well-trained cyclists who were tested repeatedly while listening to music with a different beat on each occasion. The aim of the research was to investigate how music played at different speeds, affects well-trained cyclists during exercise.’

Music is commonly used during exercise and has been viewed as a type of legal performance-enhancer due to the fact that it may improve mood, increase work output and reduce people’s sensations of effort while they are exercising.

‘Most of the research supporting the use of music has been conducted using untrained people or recreational exercisers so we wanted to investigate whether music could improve mood and enhance performance in top-level cyclists as well,’ said Dyer. ‘What we found is that music didn’t have a significant impact on exercise performance in these cyclists regardless of the speed at which the music was played. When we played music with a higher tempo however, it did tend to have an adverse effect on their mood implying that the music acted as a distraction rather than a motivator.’

He said using music during exercise might not always be beneficial and it should be selected carefully according to the tempo of the music, the type of athlete and the type of exercise.

‘It doesn’t seem to benefit performance in top-level athletes who are capable of performing at their best without the need for external motivation,’ he added.

Dyer said he had the support of a great supervisor in Professor Andrew McKune and gained a lot of valuable experience in conducting research.  ‘Through Professor McKune’s help I have also been able to meet and interact with some international researchers and present my work internationally at the International Convention on Science, Education and Medicine in Sport - ICSEMIS 2012 - in Scotland.’

He has also presented locally at the College of Health Science Symposium and BASA Life through Movement Conference in Potchefstroom last year.

McKune said Dyer had been a pleasure to supervise: ‘He was a disciplined and highly motivated student who has tremendous potential to develop into a successful academic.’

His research findings suggest that fast tempo music is not as beneficial for performance in well-trained individuals as previously thought. ‘His research questions the use of certain types of music to improve performance. The findings are novel and have been published in the Journal of Perceptual and Motor Skills,’ he added.

Dyer is currently lecturing on a part-time basis in the Discipline of Biokinetics, Exercise and Leisure Sciences at UKZN and exploring possible avenues for PhD study.

He is also trying to increase the amount of sport science testing that takes place in UKZN’s Human Performance Laboratory.

The Cape Town-born Dyer has always been involved with sport. He is a part-time cricket player and coach and also has an interest in soccer and rugby.

Dyer, who was at Pinetown Boys’ High, has a sister and three younger brothers. He said his family was very proud of his achievements and he was grateful for their support. 

 - Nombuso Dlamini


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New Study on Depression in Epilepsy Patients


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“Improving the Detection of Depression and/or Anxiety Psychiatric Comorbidities in People with Epilepsy in Primary Health Care Institutions in Zambia”, was the title of a thesis which earned Dr Edward Mbewe his PhD in Nursing.

About 50 million people suffer from epilepsy (PWE) worldwide and of those 60% have depression and anxiety and 80% live in low-income regions. Common psychiatric comorbidities are often unrecognised and undertreated.

In this study, Mbewe developed and validated a 10-item screening tool for the detection of depression and anxiety at primary healthcare clinics in Zambia.

Mbewe said, ‘The tool can be used in clinics and hospitals. It takes about two minutes for a nurse, clinical officer or doctor to fill in the screening tool and score. The easiest thing is that the tool can be filled in by any community health worker who has been trained to do so and the training takes less than half a day.’

Primary care clinic workers in selected clinics were trained to use the screening tool and a retrospective chart review was conducted among 120 consecutive PWE’s, who received care one month after training. It was found that detection improved from 1% to 49%, and treatment was frequently initiated.

The study was undertaken in three phases.  The first phase dealt with establishing the prevalence of psychiatric comorbidities of depression and anxiety in epilepsy patients, while the second phase involved the development of a screening tool for the psychiatric comorbidities.

Phase three was the implementation of the screening tool to establish if there was an improvement of screening among primary care workers.

The improvement was seen in the detection of psychiatric comorbidities. ‘To complete the thesis, data was gathered from patients, patients’ files and literature,’ said Mbewe. ‘Ethical clearance was obtained from the Michigan State University, the University of Zambia and the University of KwaZulu-Natal. The phases culminated in publications in international peer-reviewed journals.’

Mbewe is the Principal Lecturer at Chainama College of Health Sciences in Zambia, which deals with continuing education in health and research. He also runs workshops in various areas engaging medical personnel at primary health care level and is actively involved in teaching health personnel at all levels i.e. medical doctors, clinical officers, nurses and environmental health technologists.

In his spare time, Mbewe engages with youth at his church and plays the keyboard. He also works with various schools to raise awareness about epilepsy.

His study was supervised by the late Professor Leana Uys and Professor Gretchen Lano Birbeck

-        Zakia Jeewa

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Medical Science Graduate Dreams of Helping Others

Medical Science Graduate Dreams of Helping Others
Ms Buyisile Chibi graduated with a Masters in Medical Science (Pharmaceutical Chemistry).

Ms Buyisile Chibi, who graduated from UKZN’s College of Health Sciences with a Masters in Medical Science degree in Pharmaceutical Chemistry, presented a thesis titled: “Computational Studies of Pentacyclo Undecane Peptide-based HIV-1 Protease Inhibitors”.

The study explored the conformational changes of the HIV protease flaps upon binding with different classes of pentacycloundecane (PCU) based cage peptide and peptoid inhibitors that were synthesised and tested for activity in the Catalysis and Peptide Research Unit at UKZN.

Chibi’s work revealed that investigated compounds, which were previously synthesised and biologically tested, showed significant results at the computational level.

‘Since the comparisons of the flap movement for both unbound enzyme (HIV protease) and the complexes were successful, a model can be built prior to synthesis.  This model will help and guide researchers to understand how the new inhibitors behave in the active site thus saving time and money required for synthesis,’ said Chibi.

‘Among all the HIV infections in South Africa, approximately 95% are of subtype C strain. The core aim of this study was first to investigate the flap dynamics of the C-SA HIV-1 PR in its free (apo enzyme) and bound forms by applying molecular dynamics (MD) simulations, and second, to develop an effective computational model for the identification of potential novel PCU-based peptide HIV protease inhibitors, employing a structure-based virtual screening approach.’

According to Chibi, it is important for health scientists to develop continuous knowledge about the dynamics of HIV in order to develop effective methods of teaching people who are involved in HIV programmes as well as individuals who have interest in and are affected by the pandemic.

‘Experimental designs have different procedures and steps that may be followed in comparison to descriptive qualitative design. This has given me undisputable quality results. Where possible, the results should be accurate and quantitative-based to have explicit controlled results.’

She was supervised by Dr M Soliman, Professor G Kruger, Dr T Govender and Dr G Maguire.

Chibi currently works at Buckman Laboratories as a Graduate Development Trainee in Research and Development. She aims to be a Lecturer in Organic Chemistry.

‘Everyone is born with a dream, which will be a driving force throughout life.  My dream was and is still to help others, especially the young generation, through teaching,’ she said. 

Chibi, who comes from a family of six, said her parents always encouraged their children to study further and make a meaningful contribution to society.

‘I still remember my dad checking my books every day and that made me work harder at school,’ she said.

‘My standout achievements were in 2010 when I was the Best Honours student in Chemistry and the Best Student in Chemistry. In 2009 I was recognised as the Best Overall student in Chemistry and the Best Student in Chemistry III.

-       Nombuso Dlamini


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Study Focuses on Musculoskeletal Pain in General Surgeons

Study Focuses on Musculoskeletal Pain in General Surgeons
Ms Farzanah Desai (centre) graduated with a Masters in Sport Science degree.

A study conducted by Ms Farzanah Desai, who graduated with a Masters in Sport Science from the College of Health Sciences, revealed that General Surgeons experienced a high prevalence of work-related musculoskeletal pain caused mainly by occupational dynamics.

Desai’s study, supervised by Dr TJ Ellapen, was titled: “The Point Prevalence of Work-Related Musculoskeletal Pain Among General Surgeons in KZN, South Africa”.  

Her research was conducted on 76 General Surgeons working in the public health sector. Results indicated that 64% of the cohort experienced musculoskeletal pain mainly in the lower back region. The majority of the cohort opted for standing posture during surgical procedures with prolonged, sustained cervical, vertebral, glenohumeral and elbow flexion. Incorrect posture resulted in an escalating postural load, propogating musculoskeletal pain.

Work related musculoskeletal pain has been identified as a significant complaint lodged by health professionals. In addition it is a costly workplace problem affecting occupational health, productivity and the career of the working population.

Desai also stated that surgeons are required to possess a high level of intellectual preparation, be skillful with their hands, have physical endurance and proficient emergency response skills. Her study indicated that the majority of the cohort were fairly young in age with an average experience as surgeons of six years. The surgeons also spent 609 hours per year on surgical procedures, the majority involving open surgery.

Desai is currently lecturing in the Exercise and Sports Science degree course at the Universal College of Learning, Palmerston North, New Zealand.

She is also involved in various research projects and works at the U-Kinetics Clinic, a cardiovascular, respiratory and metabolic exercise rehabilitation clinic.

‘I’ve always gravitated towards education and teaching. I would love to embark on studies relating to tertiary education.

‘I am quite active - I play football on a social level, I train and participate in triathlons regularly and I am currently training to do the Tongariro Alpine Crossing - one of New Zealand’s most popular tramping tracks.’

She said she owed her every success, personal and academic, to her family. ‘They have been a constant source of support, motivation and inspiration.’

Desai grew up in the Midlands Meander district of KwaZulu-Natal, later attending Nizamia Islamic School in Pietermaritzburg before moving to Durban to study at UKZN.

- Nombuso Dlamini


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UKZN Produces KZN’s First Black African Doctor of Philosophy in Speech Language Pathology

UKZN Produces KZN’s First Black African Doctor of Philosophy in Speech Language Pathology
Dr Thandeka Mdlalo graduated with a PhD in Speech Language Pathology.

Dr Thandeka Mdlalo, recently graduated from the College of Health Science’s with a PhD in Speech Language Pathology - she is the first Black African Speech Language Pathologist to graduate with a doctorate in KwaZulu-Natal.

Mdlalo’s thesis was titled: “The use of an English Language Assessment Test on South African English Additional Language (EAL) Speakers from an Indigenous Language and Cultural Background: a Critical Evaluation”.

The study aimed to provide an in-depth critique of the use of language assessment tools on populations from indigenous language and cultural backgrounds (eg Zulu), culminating in a framework for guiding the adaptation of language assessment tools to be culturally and linguistically relevant for the indigenous South African populations on which they are used.

‘The study critiques the use of language screening tools, using the RAPT (a commonly used test) as an example, from four different perspectives,’ said Mdlalo. ‘Firstly, the perspective of the children, who are the target population of the tool; secondly, that of the parents and community, who play a significant role in the socialisation of the children; thirdly, from the perspective of the academics from an indigenous language and cultural background, who provide an academic perspective of the tool and finally, speech-language therapists who administer the tool and interpret its findings.’

Under the supervision of Dr Penny Flack and Professor Robin Joubert, Mdlalo’s research provided specific guidelines and recommendations for speech-language therapists in the assessment of an EAL speaker in a South African context.

According to Mdlalo, children in research are usually only used in the administration of the test and their opinion of the tool is not sought. ‘In this study, the voice of the children is the main contributor to the data collection,’ she said.

Mdlalo acknowledged that the issue of culturally fair assessments required the development of appropriate tools and methods.  ‘However, since speech-language therapists continue to use standardised tools that are available to them, even though they are not culturally and linguistically appropriate, the findings are not often accurate or valid,’ she added.

Mdlalo has presented some of her findings at international forums, such as the Canadian Speech-Language Pathologists Association (CASLPA).

The mother of two teenage girls, she has worked for the public and private sector and also held a lecturing position at UKZN. She is a Group Training Instructor at Virgin Active and enjoys reading, exercise, music and art in her spare time.

Last year, Mdlalo had emergency surgery after it was discovered that she had a heart condition and on top of that her 17-year old daughter was admitted for an emergency operation after suffering an injury during a hockey match. ‘These were some of the challenges I had to face while attempting to complete the study,’ she said.

Port Elizabeth - born Mdlalo said her family was very proud of her achievement.

-       Nombuso Dlamini 


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HIV/AIDS Children Display Poor Reading and Speech Skills During Research by Master’s Graduate

HIV/AIDS Children Display Poor Reading and Speech Skills During Research by Master’s Graduate
Bloemfontein Optometrist, Nashua Naicker, graduated with a Master’s in Optometry at UKZN.

Master’s research among a sample group of children with HIV/AIDS in the Free State has found that a high number of participants displayed poor reading and verbalisation skills.

UKZN Master’s in Optometry graduate Mr Nashua Naicker’s study titled: “An Investigation of Saccadic Eye Movement Abnormalities in Children with HIV/AIDS on Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy (HAART)”, was conducted on 128 children from the central Free State (Bloemfontein, Botsabelo and Thabanchu) and the southern Free State (Koffiefontein and Petrusburg).

It aimed to explore a relationship between saccadic eye movement abnormalities and central nervous system (CNS) deficits caused by HIV/AIDS.

‘HIV rapidly progresses to the CNS and affects certain brain areas that mediate eye movements. Due to this overlap, a manifestation of eye movement dysfunctions through basic clinical testing may indicate CNS impairment or a declining neurologic state due to HIV,’ said Naicker.

The study provided a platform for other health-care professionals to explore other non-invasive and pragmatic ways and to standardise tests tailored for specific population segments in detecting HIV-related dysfunctions in children in mainstream clinical practice.

The study revealed that a high number of children manifested with poor reading and verbalisation skills during testing.  ‘This has led to questions of whether testing norms and scales developed in America and Europe are applicable to South Africa’s cross-ethnic population in diagnosing problems in our paediatric population’, said Naicker. 

‘We need to establish reliable screening tools so detection of early deficits and treatment interventions can be implemented sooner to promote longevity and improve the quality of life for children living with HIV/AIDS in South Africa,’ he said.

Naicker said working with children living with HIV/AIDS during his research process had been rewarding.  He found it spiritually uplifting, knowing that he may have made an impact on the lives of the children by putting something as simple as a smile on their faces.

‘My heartfelt gratitude goes out to the children who participated in the study and to those who may have passed on during the writing of this thesis.’

Naicker is an Assistant Director Optometrist with the Free State Department of Health and a Lecturer on a joint establishment portfolio at the University of the Free State based at the Department of Optometry of the National District Hospital (Universitas Annex) in Bloemfontein.

He was appointed Programme Co-ordinator for the Bachelor of Optometry undergraduate programme last year.

His special interest field is Binocular Vision:  ‘I manage the Paediatric and Binocular Vision Clinic at the National District Hospital. My vision is to improve the current landscape of optometric services in the province and train professionals who can provide secondary and tertiary optometric care in the public sector.

The two major domains of his work involve Higher Education and training and public sector eye care services.

‘I was fortunate to get into lecturing quite early in my career as I had a passion for academia and developing students into professionals. I have also been privileged to be involved in public health optometry as it is most rewarding to make a positive difference in peoples’ lives by providing  scarce optometric eye care services to those who are unable to access private care in South Africa,’ he said.

‘My family is very pleased with my achievement and it was through their support and the continuous encouragement of my research supervisor, Ms Vanessa Moodley who is the Academic Leader in the Discipline of Optometry at UKZN, that I persevered to see this thesis through to completion.’

Naicker, originally from Chatsworth in Durban, graduated from the former University of Durban-Westville in 2002 and the following year became the first full-time Optometrist appointed by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health.

- Nombuso Dlamini


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Study Finds Shortcomings in KZN Department of Sports and Recreation

Study Finds Shortcomings in KZN Department of Sports and Recreation
Mr Siyabulela Mkwalo graduated with a Master’s in Sport Science from UKZN.

The government’s Department of Sports and Recreation (DSR) has failed to appropriately implement its policies in KwaZulu-Natal, a Masters in Sports Science thesis has concluded.

The study by Mr Siyabulela Mkwalo was titled:  “The Role of the Department of Sports and Recreation in the Provision and Delivery of Sports and Recreation in KwaZulu-Natal”.

Mkwalo, who graduated with his Masters in Sport Science degree from UKZN’s College of Health Sciences, assessed the effectiveness of the DSR with regard to its provision and delivery of sports and recreation services in the province.

The study identified the extent to which the department had implemented its policies regarding the effective provision and delivery of sports and recreation to communities across KwaZulu-Natal.  It also looked at the possible role played by the department in ensuring transformation in sports and recreation.

The research evaluated Departmental policies with respect to strategies implemented that had affected a number of issues including women’s participation at all levels, access to facilities by all communities, funding models used to support various structures,  partnerships with stakeholders in the delivery of services  and inclusion of people with disabilities on sports and recreation programmes.

Mkwalo used a questionnaire to collect data from institutions that delivered sports and recreation in the province ie, the Department, federations, South African Student Sport Union (SASSU) and South African Student Sport Union United Schools Sport Association of South (USASSA).

The study concluded that, service delivery by providing administrative support to stakeholders; supporting transformation through sustainable development programmes; developing sports facilities and reviving active community participation in sports and recreation were affected by the Department’s failure to appropriately implement its policies.

‘A large proportion of opportunities and efforts to improve the quality of life of citizens still favours urban communities over those based in rural areas,’ Mkwalo said. 

Mkwalo, who is currently reading for his PhD at UKZN, works for the KwaZulu-Natal Academy of Sport and is the President of the KwaZulu-Natal Olympics Style Boxing Organisation.

He enjoys spending time with his family, participating in any recreational activity and reading different kinds of books.

Mkwalo says he was inspired by his Manager at work, who always encouraged him to study and supported all his initiatives.

Married with three daughters, Mkwalo said his family was very happy about his achievement.

The South African National Boxing Organisation appointed Mkwalo to manage the National Boxing Youth Team attending the AIBA World Youth Boxing Championships at Sofia in Bulgaria from 10 - 25 April. Mkwalo left for Bulgeria immediately after his Graduation.

- Nombuso Dlamini


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School of Health Sciences Top Student Wins Five Awards

School of Health Sciences Top Student Wins Five Awards
Bachelor of Pharmacy student Ms Reeya Singh graduated Top of her Class.

Bachelor of Pharmacy student, Miss Reeya Singh, completed her degree summa cum laude  and was the top student in the School of Health Sciences in 2013, scoring five awards out of an available seven in the Discipline of Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Singh received awards for the Best Pharmaceutical Sciences Student, Best Pharmaceutics Student, Best Pharmacology Student, Best Pharmacy Practice Student and Best Pharmaceutical Chemistry Student.

She is currently serving her internship at King Edward VIII Hospital where she is applying the clinical and pharmacy practice aspects she learned during her undergraduate degree as well as obtaining hands on experience in the pharmaceutical services and health care field.

Singh was very excited and extremely proud. ‘I entered UKZN with high aspirations, but did not think I would be leaving as the Top Health Sciences Student - it feels amazing!’

Singh, who matriculated at Dr A. D. Lazarus Secondary School in 2009, said her university life had been challenging and pressurised at times. ‘But I am blessed with family and friends who kept motivating and helping me. It certainly has been fulfilling to see my sacrifices turn into success and achievements.

‘I was also fortunate to be tutored by dedicated lecturers at the Discipline of Pharmaceutical Sciences as well as to share my learning experiences with supportive friends and colleagues.’

Singh said she coped with the amount of studies and practicals by studying strategically: ‘It is important to acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses and focus more on modules that are challenging and get more clarification if needed.’

She says through perseverance and always doing your best, it is possible to achieve anything.

Singh, who will do her community service next year, plans to pursue her Masters in Pharmaceutics or Pharmacoeconomics. ‘I am hoping that my internship and community service will provide me with a clearer vision of which stream will best suit me.’

Her past achievements include:

•           Top 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th year Pharmacy student;

•           2012 UKZN Brenda M Gourley Scholarship - a prestige scholarship for the second best undergraduate in the University’

•           MK Rosenbach Scholarship (2013)’

•           Golden Key International Honours Society New Member Chapter Award (2012).

-       Nombuso Dlamini


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New Nursing Study Focuses on the National Health Insurance Policy

New Nursing Study Focuses on the National Health Insurance Policy
Nursing academic graduated with a Master’s degree in Nursing from UKZN.

The aim of a Master’s thesis was to investigate Nurse Managers’ understanding of the National Health Insurance Policy and the implications it has for them in the carrying out of their roles and responsibilities in health care facilities.

Graduate, Mrs Nozipho Mthembu completed the thesis titled: “An Analysis of the Nurse Manager’s Interpretation of the National Health Insurance Policy, its Implications for Implementation in Healthcare Facilities in the eThekwini District”.

The methodology was a sequential mixed method with two phases. Phase one was qualitative methodology where Mthembu interviewed Nurse Managers from the Public and Private sectors. Phase two was quantitative, where questionnaires were handed to nurse managers in the Public and Private sectors. ‘The data analysis of both phases was an experience of note for me,’ said Mthembu.

Three Community Health Centres (CHC), two district hospitals in eThekwini and three Private healthcare facilities were selected for the study. Participants were Nurse Managers at top and middle levels from the public healthcare facilities (ie district hospitals, community health centres and primary health clinics) and middle level private facilities.

It was found in the results that participants ‘demonstrated a general impression on the NHI rather than specific understanding’.

Mthembu said she ‘would love to be involved in the work done to prepare the nation for the implementation of the NHI. I am very much into the implementation of the NHI as I believe it will address and promote prevention of diseases as opposed to a focus on curative measures as I see it mostly in the Private sector. I am very passionate about helping those who can’t help themselves especially the youth. I believe in equity hence I would like to see the NHI implemented so that the poor can access healthcare facilities easily.

‘I am also passionate about uplifting nursing standards and working on the quality problems like infection control, attitude of staff, cleanliness and safety of patients and staff among others. I believe Nurse Managers will play a major role in achieving these.’

Mthembu is an undergraduate Lecturer in the School of Nursing and Public Health at UKZN. In her spare time, she enjoys being up to date on news events and likes to read the papers, listen to the radio and watch TV.

-        Zakia Jeewa


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Male Partner Involvement Highlighted in KZN Study on Pregnant Women


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“Exploring male partner involvement regarding PMTCT (prevention of mother-to-child-transmission services) in a selected primary health care facility in KwaZulu-Natal”, was the title of the thesis by Master of Nursing graduate, Ms Tamara Phiri.

With KwaZulu-Natal being the province worst affected in South Africa by the disease burden of HIV and AIDS - 38.7% of pregnant women attending antenatal clinics (ANC) tested positive for HIV in 2008 according to the South Africa National Department of Health - the lack of male partner involvement has been seen as a contributing factor to a poor programme adherence by women who are initiated into the prevention of mother-to-child-transmission (PMTCT) programme in South Africa.

In order to increase male partner involvement in the services, one of the strategies which may have an impact in the success of the programme has been approved.

Phiri’s study aimed to explore and describe male partner involvement in PMTCT services in a selected primary health care facility in KwaZulu-Natal. Five areas were investigated for the study to provide further data: demographic factors; knowledge; socio-cultural factors; programmatic factors; and the interrelationship between demographic factors, knowledge, socio-cultural factors and programmatic factors on male involvement in PMTCT.

‘A quantitative exploratory descriptive design was conducted in November 2012 at a selected primary health care facility in KwaZulu-Natal. Questionnaires were issued to 90 men.  The study revealed some association between certain variables of interest and male involvement. ‘

Phiri’s study recommended that PMTCT programmes needed to boost their awareness strategies as a means of increasing male involvement in the services.

‘The results show that even though most of the participants indicated that they were aware of the PMTCT programme and seemed to want to do the right thing in supporting their partners, various demographic, socio-cultural and programmatic factors were hindering their participation. Also noted in the findings was that younger men and those with a higher education were more willing to be involved than those who were older or those with a lower level of education.’

In addition, the findings also show that the general perception of ANC/PMTCT as mainly feminine facilities also hindered the involvement of men in the services. Furthermore, the fact that men felt PMTCT services did little to engage them, and that health care workers did not invite men to participate in the services, also affected their participation in the services. 

Phiri is working on further research projects. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, exercising, travelling, listening to music and watching movies, along with shopping and reading novels. 

- Zakia jeewa

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Assessment of Clinical Skills Laboratory Highlighted in New Study

Assessment of Clinical Skills Laboratory Highlighted in New Study
Ms Roxann Moodley graduated with a Master’s in Nursing.

Ms Roxann Moodley of Nursing and Public Health at UKZN graduated with Master’s in Nursing with her thesis titled: “A Process Evaluation of the Clinical Skills Laboratory in a Private Nursing School (KZN)”.

Moodley’s research study was a process evaluation of a clinical skills laboratory which included both qualitative and quantitative research methods. ‘Interesting enough, there is minimal research on the usuage and effectiveness of the clinical skills labortory in South Africa.’

The research included both the perspectives of the students and support staff that used and worked in the laboratory.

‘The results clearly indicated that there is sufficient equipment and experienced support staff.’ The project setting was based in KwaZulu-Natal and restricted to one clinical skills laboratory.

‘It was a great fulfilment to complete my masters and add to the body of knowledge that exists out there. A choice of topic really needs to be thought about and the researcher must have a passion to drive the research.’

Moodley is currently a Medical Representative at Litha Pharmaceutical and is hoping to move onto becoming a trainer in a pharmaceutical company. Her long-term goal is to become a manager of a nursing school and have a great impact on future nurses.

‘I also plan on studying towards my Doctorate and want to keep it in the clinical field where my passion lies.’

In her spare time, Moodley enjoys reading, hip-hop dancing and motivational speaking. ‘I love people and socialising, and have a very soft heart when it comes to animals. I love analysing and researching new facts to keep myself updated.’

- Zakia Jeewa


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New Study on Telemedicine within the Public Sector

New Study on Telemedicine within the Public Sector
Ms Shivani Naidoo graduated with a Master’s in Medical Science (Telemedicine).

Ms Shivani Naidoo, a graduate with a Master of Medical Science specialising in Telemedicine, has graduated using a study of telemedicine as the basis for her dissertation.

Her thesis was titled: “A Review of Telemedicine in the Public sector of South Africa”.

The aim of Naidoo’s study, supervised by Professor Maurice Mars - HOD of Telehealth at UKZN, was to review telemedicine activities in the public sector in South Africa. ‘As telemedicine is an integral part of the National eHealth Strategy which supports the proposed National Health Insurance, there was a need to summarise telemedicine activity in the Public sector hospitals and clinics for future planning.’

‘The last audit on telemedicine activity was conducted by the National Department of Health in 2008, so there was a need to review changes and updates since then.

Naidoo formulated a questionnaire which addressed telemedicine infrastructure, services offered, their use, administration and management of telemedicine. These questionnaires were then sent to people identified by the National Department of Health as either responsible for or leading telemedicine in each Province.

Annual reports, performance plans and strategic plans of the nine provincial Departments of Health (DOH) were reviewed and a literature review of peer-reviewed papers on telemedicine in South Africa was also undertaken. Four provinces had completed the questionnaire but there was evidence of telemedicine activity present in all provinces.

It was found that 131 hospitals and 79 clinics have telemedicine facilities with a further 69 telemedicine units being installed. Another crucial finding was that few DOH have posts or budget for telemedicine. In total, 170 papers were reviewed.

Services were reported in various departments: radiology, dermatology psychiatry, ophthalmology, psychology, orthopaedics, paediatrics, audiology, cardiology, and pathology but the data found on their use of telemedicine activity was limited. The lack of legal, ethical and clinical guidelines for telemedicine and the current stance of the health Professions Council on telemedicine were noted.

Naidoo says telemedicine activity in the public sector is growing, but is fragmented and few provincial Departments of Health budget for telemedicine. There is a general lack of leadership in telemedicine and there is an urgent need to finalise guidelines for telemedicine practice within South Africa.’

Naidoo is currently working as an Administrator in the Department of TeleHealth in Durban. ‘I would love to further my involvement with Telemedicine within the province. Working with Professor Mars and the team from TeleHealth has been a wonderful experience. I had a lot of support and guidance from the Department and would definitely pursue a PhD.’

Being a wife and mum to two young children doesn’t allow her much spare time. ‘However, once a month my colleagues and I set aside a day to give back to the community in various ways including food and clothes distributions. My kids love being a part of this and it gives me a chance to interact with my colleagues outside of work.’

-        Zakia Jeewa


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PhD Graduate Formulates Guidelines for Nursing Management

PhD Graduate Formulates Guidelines for Nursing Management
UKZN academic, Dr Jane Kerr, graduated with a PhD in Nursing.

Nursing Management Lecturer at UKZN, Dr Jane Kerr has formulated guidelines for nursing management in her PhD thesis.

The dissertation is titled: “An Analysis of Nurse Managers Human Resource Management of HIV and/or Tuberculosis Affected/Infected Nurses in Selected Hospitals in the eThekwini District of KwaZulu-Natal - An Ethnographic study”.

Having been a practising nurse since 1974, Kerr explains how her study came about. ‘Most research starts from one’s own experiences. In a real life working situation where I was a Nursing Manager I had to plan hospital staffing on a daily basis within a district hospital which is often a problem. With a small number of staff, non - disclosed statuses and maintaining confidentiality often came into question.’

In light of South Africa’s present hospital staffing deficits which have been aggravated by the high occurrence of HIV and TB, Kerr’s study explored how nurse managers managed infected nurses.

Nurse Managers were interviewed about their daily planning activities, the quality of care, and their perceived priorities and concerns. Guidelines were then formulated and published by Kerr to assist in their decision making.

What was particularly important about Kerr’s study, supervised by Professor Petra Brysiewicz and Professor Busi Bhengu, was that she discovered a fragmented legislative framework. The draft guidelines which she formulated and has suggested in the outcome of her study are designed to assist with problems and improve the system.

Kerr’s study pointed out that the absenteeism of nurses was not well managed in terms of compliance within the nursing environment.

Said Kerr: ‘The most important aspect of the research would be for the guidelines to be refined and implemented.’

Bengu said Kerr needed to present feedback to the government in the form of presentations and departmental visits.  ‘The South African Nursing Council has a regulation making it possible to report nurses who have committed unprofessional conduct due to incapacity. Such nurses may be temporarily suspended while they are being rehabilitated and then assessed to establish when they are ready to return to work.’

Kerr received funding from the Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI) Honour Society of Nursing, and the KwaZulu-Natal Research Institute for Tuberculosis and HIV (K-RITH) for her study.

Kerr is the Acting Co-ordinator for the Bachelor of Nursing and is a research Supervisor for Masters of Nursing (M Nursing) students.

She has been at UKZN since 2009 and spent the past five years working on her PhD leaving her precious little free time. However, she enjoys reading and playing golf.  

-  Zakia Jeewa


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Multiple Dyslexic Student Graduates as Master of Sport Science

Multiple Dyslexic Student Graduates as Master of Sport Science
A first in Africa for Ms Elsie Wentzel, Master’s in Sport Science graduate.

Ms Elsie Wentzel, who suffers from two types of dyslexia, graduated with a Master’s degree in Sport Science.

Wentzel’s study, the first of its kind in Africa, was titled: “Effect of a Foot Pump Device on Lower Leg Swelling in Physically Inactive Office Workers”, focused on lower leg swelling in people with desk bound jobs.

She used a device called “StepIt”, The Rocking Foot Pedal, which was developed to increase blood circulation in the legs and to simulate walking and activate the Calf Muscle Pump (CMP) in the lower leg.

The study was conducted in Pretoria where she used the device on 40 subjects. ‘It gave people a little movement in the ankle which stimulated the calf and recorded the effects on swelling in the legs. Leg volume in the test leg was maintained whereas the other leg’s volume increased,’ she said.

According to Wentzel, her research could be used in the everyday life of people with lower leg swelling.

Wentzel owns her own biokinetics practice at a Virgin Active gymnasium in Pretoria. ‘Completing my project was hard since I was working at the same time, but it was worth it in the end. I am exactly where I want to be in my career,’ she added.

She received a lot of support from her mother and her husband through her degree work.  ‘They are my support and my rock for when things get tough. I love life and really appreciate everything God has given me.

‘I have had a lot of challenges in my life and got through all of them a better person. I try to learn from everything in my life. I really enjoy adventure and new things,’ said Wentzel.

Wentzel was at UKZN for a year to begin her degree under the supervision of Professor Andrew Mckune. She returned to Pretoria after completing her proposal development and pilot work to continue with data collection.

Mckune, who initially taught Wentzel as an undergraduate at Tshwane University of Technology, said she was a disciplined, motivated student who submitted an innovative thesis.

‘The study is definitely the first of its kind in Africa and the results were published in the South African Journal of Ergonomics in December 2013. We kept in constant contact throughout her data collection and write-up and so it was not an issue supervising Elsie while she was in Pretoria,’ said McKune.

 Nombuso Dlamini

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