HIV on the Wane in SA - UKZN Academic

HIV on the Wane in SA - UKZN Academic
Professor Frank Tanser.

HIV was decreasing slowly in South Africa and what had been achieved thus far was incredible but the current generation of scientists ‘will be judged on where we go from here’, said Professor Frank Tanser of the College of Health Sciences.

Tanser, speaking at his inaugural lecture as full Professor in the College, provided insights into the course of the HIV epidemic, detailing his work since 1997 at the Africa Centre for Health and Population Studies which is based in a rural community in northern KwaZulu-Natal severely affected by HIV.

Tanser said his love for the sciences was ignited by the use of satellite imagery for land management while he was doing his master’s degree at Rhodes University. He began specialising in the use of Spatial Technologies and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in studying malaria transmission in Africa while working at the Medical Research Council under well-known scientist David le Sueur. His formal introduction into public health came when he was offered a Wellcome Trust Fellowship through the Imperial College.

In 1996, the Wellcome Trust put out a call for a centre to do population-based research and in response the Africa Centre opened with Tanser a founder member. He was responsible for setting up the GIS unit which has since achieved international recognition for the novel application of spatial methods to infectious diseases and health systems research.  This resource is seen as a very important contribution, not only for UKZN and its scholars but for the region as a whole.

During the two years following its opening, the Africa Centre obtained data from 26 000 homesteads over an area of 1 400 sq km. The Centre found a 29% adult HIV prevalence among the rural population of 228 000 as well as a high rate of unemployment and poverty.

Having this key data, the team were however unable to move forward during the "AIDS Denialism" period in South Africa from 1998-2003. 

Tanser recalled the frustration of all HIV scientists at the time. ‘This was indeed a dark chapter in South Africa’s history with about 330 000 deaths and 2.2 million years of life lost,' said Tanser. Antiretrovirals (ARVs) were not publicly available and there was very little effective prevention beyond provision of condoms, behaviour change counselling and treatment of Sexually Transmitted Infections. ‘Funeral parlours in Mtubatuba were thriving,' said Tanser.

‘One of the most successful public health interventions ever undertaken has been the provision of combination antiretroviral therapy (ART) to more than 6.2 million people in sub-Saharan Africa.'

The ART scale-up resulted in substantial population-level reductions in HIV-related mortality in many populations and overall is estimated to have saved a total of more than nine million life-years.

In 2013, Tanser published a study in Science which received substantial international recognition. The study found that the HIV epidemic could be reversed through increasing coverage of ART bringing about a decreased risk of onward transmission of HIV.  

Tanser’s current study focuses on identifying the extent to which high risk communities are 'the engine room' of the epidemic and may hold the clue to dramatically reducing the rate of new infections.

High risk clusters in the Africa Centre’s surveillance area are located in peri-urban communities along the main roads with young women most at risk for HIV infection.

‘I am convinced we could achieve quite extraordinary reductions in overall HIV incidence if we could stamp out the big fires,’ said Tanser.

Tanser has published extensively in high-ranking international journals including Science, PLoS Medicine, Lancet Infectious Diseases and The Lancet. His work has been cited more than 3 000 times.

He has been a recipient of numerous scientific grants and has received more than R450 million in external research funding to date.

Tanser was recently awarded a R19 million MRC flagship grant to investigate novel methods to understand patterns of HIV transmission and drug resistance in a typical rural African population.

MaryAnn Francis

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Abafundi Bomculo Badlale Ekhonsathini Yamaqembu e-USA

Abafundi Bomculo Badlale Ekhonsathini Yamaqembu e-USA
Abafundi base-UKZN nabaseVirginia Commonwealth University bedlala ndawonye esteji eMelika.

Click here for English version

Abafundi abahlanu nabasebenzi ababili bohlelo lwezifundo ze-Jazz badlale ekhonsathini ebise-United States behlanganyele nozakwabo base-Virginia Commonwealth University.

Ikhonsathi bekungelokweseka uhlelo i-‘Jazz Bridge to Greater Understanding’ phakathi kwe-VCU ne-UKZN olusenyakeni wesithathu.

Iqembu lase-UKZN lichaze lolu hambo ‘njengobelunothisa, obeluyimvulamehlo futhi obelumnandi’.

UMnu Rogan van den Berg ubalule ukuthi leli qembu lase-UKZN belingakaze lidlale ndawonye phambilini. ‘Sonke sisuka emazingeni angafani - kusukela enyakeni wokuqala kuya kowesithathu – kodwa sithole ithuba lokwazana sajwayela izitayela nendlela ekuzwakala ngayo umculo wabanye. Lokhu kusenze saqala sadlala ngenkululeko sihlangene njengeqembu elinethalente elikhulu, emva kwalokho singene esteji sadlala ekhonsathini ebingeyokuhlanganyela nozwakwethu base-VCU.’

Ohlabelelayo eqenjini uMnu Kwena Ramahuta uthe: ‘Bekumnandi ukudlala nabafundi base-VCU – sikwazile ukuveza izingxenye ezihlukene  zezindlela esidlala ngazo futhi kusebenze kahle esteji. Sikwazile ukuletha umsindo wesi-Afrika kaMaskandi ezithamelini ezintsha kodwa zawuthokozela kakhulu.

‘Ukwabelana inkundla nabafundi base-VCU kube ukubambisana okuhle kakhulu futhi kukhombisile ukuthi la maqembu amabili anamasiko ahlukene angasebenza kahle kakhulu ndawonye.’

UMnu Jude Ganesan uthe isineke sibalulekile ekufundweni komculo nasekusebenzeni njengeqembu. Umculo yilokhu esiyikho; uyisandiso salokho esiyikho. Injabulo yethu itholakala emculweni.’

 UMnu Lungelo Ngcobo, osebeyingxenye yalolu hlelo kusukela ekuqaleni kwalo ngezi-2012 uthe loku kuhlanganyela ngokushintshiselana kunika abafundi ithuba lokuhlola amanye amasiko. Luyayiguqula indlela ocabanga ngayo luvale negebe phakathi kwala mazwe namanyuvesi amabili, luvula imingcele futhi lwakhe ubungani obungapheli.’

UMnu Dalisu Ndlazi ululeke abafundi bomculo ukuthi basebenze ngokuzikhandla futhi bathathe namathuba abawatholayo. ‘Ukuba netshisekelo nokuthanda umculo akwanele nje kukodwa, kumele uzibonakalise  ngokuthi ukhombise ukuthi unalo ithuba lokuphumelela emculweni noma kanjani.’

Abafundi base-UKZN bahlela ukuqhubeka bafundele umculo emazingeni aphezulu abanye banethemba lokungena emkhakheni wokufundisa njengabafundisibomculo kanti abanye bafuna ukusebenza embonini yomculo futhi bafunde ibhizinisi lomculo babe ababhali bomculo wemidlalo kamabonakude neyebhayisikobho bazithole sebedle umhlanganiso kwezomculo emhlabeni jikelele nasekhaya. 

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UKZN Professors Named as Leaders in Telemedicine in Africa

UKZN Professors Named as Leaders in Telemedicine in Africa
Professor Maurice Mars (left) and Professor Richard Scott.

UKZN’s Head of the Discipline of TeleHealth, Professor Maurice Mars, and Professor Richard Scott have been named in an Australian study as the leading publishers in the field of telemedicine in Africa.

The study by Dr Nigel Armfield titled: "Telemedicine – A Bibliometric and Content Analysis of 17 932 Publication Records", was recently published in the International Journal of Medical Informatics (2014;83(10):715-725).

The study aimed to provide an up-to-date contemporary bibliometric view of the telemedicine and telehealth literature, and a longitudinal analysis of changes in content themes. The study analysed 17 932 records in the PubMed database, published in 2 523 journals. In the cumulative literature, 3 152 articles (18%) were published in specialist telemedicine journals while most articles (14 780; 82%) were published in mainstream clinical journals. The study ranked Scott at number 16 on the Top 30 author list, ranked by total number of publications (all-time) with 37 articles, and Mars at number 26 with 27 articles.

Mars was number six on the Author list when ranked by total number of publications over the five years 2009–2013 (excluding editorials), with 21 articles and is the leading publisher from the developing world, while Scott ranked at 14 with 13 articles. Mars, who has over 185 publications, pointed out that this study only reported papers in the PubMed database and that as telemedicine was a relatively new field there were several journals that were not included as yet in this database.

Mars said: ‘I try to work wherever I am - whether on long haul flights where I always work on a paper or a student’s thesis or waiting to pick up my wife. Whatever I do in e-Health has to be linked to a research project and the results need to be published so that others can learn from our experiences and better understand our circumstances in Africa.’

Scott said it was reassuring to be announced as among the top publishers in the field: ‘It is good to know that the work we do is being recognised in terms of quantity and quality. Being ranked amongst the top publishers is gratifying.’

He said besides getting a sense of accomplishment, it was good to know that there were a lot people working in this field: ‘With so many people working in this area, we might come up with the right solutions.’

Armfield’s study took a new bibliometric approach to describing the telemedicine related literature, combining information about authors, outlets and content. It provided an overview of publication trends over time, examining topics during the early adoption of telemedicine and comparing them with recent published reports.

According to Armfield, this gave valuable insight into the maturity, scope, and perception of telemedicine.  ‘Our study has shown that telemedicine has evolved from a heavily technical domain to one with a more patient-centric and clinical focus.’

Mars is a Medical Practitioner, with a Doctorate in Medicine and a background in Orthopaedics, Vascular Surgery, Sports Medicine and Physiology. He has been working in eHealth for over 20 years and is Founding President of the South African Telemedicine Association, Editor of the Journal of the International Society for Telemedicine and eHealth, Chair of the eHealth sub-committee of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Health Technology, Chair of the Education Committee of the International Society for Telemedicine and eHealth, Chair of the International SIG of the American Telemedicine Association, and member of the Telemedicine Working Group of the International Medical Informatics Association. 

Mars has been the recipient of an NIH Fogarty International Training Grant in Medical Informatics for 15 years and his discipline has over 100 postgraduate students in nine African countries who participate in lectures and seminars in their home countries by videoconference on their computers, tablet PCs or smart phones.

He is married to a Physiotherapist and has three daughters.

Scott has been involved in e-Health since 1996 and has published 196 papers in the field over the years. He trained at the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine in Clinical Chemistry and Clinical and Forensic Toxicology, which he practised, researched, and published in before seeing the fundamental value and importance of e-Health and shifting focus. He is a determined and disciplined individual who is motivated by his desire to get his understanding into the literature so that people can debate the work he has produced.

A Canadian, Scott is married with three children.

He thanked UKZN for allowing him the opportunity to work with Mars: ‘It is indeed a great opportunity for collaboration, and it has also afforded me time to see and explore some of the country and culture of South Africa.’

Scott, a Global e-Health expert, is currently a Professor at UKZN, and CEO of NT Consulting – Global e-Health Inc ( He is also Director of the Office of Global e-Health and Strategy, and an Adjunct Professor in the Departments of Community Health Sciences and Family Medicine, at the University of Calgary.

Scott has developed novel but important areas of research in Environmental e-Health and Disaster e-Health, but focuses his interests on examining the role of e-health in the globalisation of healthcare.

He promotes the application of "culturally sensitive and technologically appropriate" e-health solutions, and has pursued, or is pursuing, collaborative research, capacity building, and implementation activities with colleagues in European, Asian, Australasian, African, and Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) countries.

Nombuso Dlamini

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“A Man for all Seasons”, Dr Ahmed Kathrada, visits UKZN

“A Man for all Seasons”, Dr Ahmed Kathrada, visits UKZN
Dr Ahmed Kathrada recalls some of the funnier aspects of being a political prisoner on Robben Island.

Dr Ahmed Kathrada, who was a close personal friend of Nelson Mandela and also played a leading role in the naming of the University’s Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine, recently spoke at a function hosted by the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA) and UKZN’s College of Health Sciences.

The Director of CAPRISA, Professor Salim Abdool Karim, introduced Kathrada (fondly known as Kathy) to the audience as a ‘founding son of democracy in South Africa, an icon that made the country great.

‘The mark of true greatness lies in Kathy's humility and his passion to always do more for society,’ said Karim.

Kathrada recalled his life in prison and Nelson Mandela's words that political prisoners were not criminals and should fight a political case. 'Madiba always said to us; do not apologise, don't ask for mercy and always proclaim your political beliefs. He also told us to never run when called by the prison guards but to always walk tall with dignity.'

Mr Bonginkosi Mafuze, a fourth year UKZN Medical student, asked Kathrada what the role of the youth was in current day South Africa. Kathrada replied: 'Enjoy the freedom we never had before, however, note that with freedom comes responsibility. People died for this freedom - 700 children were killed during the Soweto uprising. Take advantage of your studies. Your university can give you the expertise you need to grow this country, especially as a health worker.

'Most important of all, people born after 1994 should stop blaming apartheid for their own weaknesses. One can overdo that until it becomes a habit. The remnants of apartheid are still with us but it is not an excuse to move forward.'

In 1963, Kathrada was charged with sabotage and attempting to overthrow the government by violent means; and sentenced to life imprisonment. For the next 18 years, he was confined to the Robben Island Maximum Security Prison along with most of his Rivonia Trial "colleagues". In October 1982, he was moved to Pollsmoor Maximum Prison near Cape Town to join others such as Mandela, Sisulu, Mhlaba and Mlangeni who had been moved there a few months before.

During his time on Robben Island and Pollsmoor, Kathrada completed Bachelor's degrees in History/Criminology and Bibliography as well as Honours degrees in History and African Politics. In 2002, he received an honorary doctorate from the former University of Durban-Westville.

Kathrada celebrates his 85th birthday this year and also the 25th anniversary of his release from prison.

MaryAnn Francis

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Research Finds Informed Consent an Obstacle for mHealth in KZN

Research Finds Informed Consent an Obstacle for mHealth in KZN
Professor Maurice Mars.

Habits and practices of mobile phone use by patients in KwaZulu-Natal as well as their understanding of informed consent for a telemedicine consultation, were the subjects of research by UKZN’s Head of the Discipline of TeleHealth, Professor Maurice Mars, and PhD student, Ms Caron Jack.

mHeath is the use of mobile health communication such as mobile phones, tablet PCs and personal digital assistants (PDA) for the provision of health services.

The studies by Mars and Jack were titled: "Ethical Considerations of Mobile Phone use by Patients in KwaZulu-Natal: Obstacles for mHealth?"; and: "Language, Cultural Brokerage and Informed Consent: will Technological Terms Impede Telemedicine Use?".

Their research examined ethical issues related to the use of mobile phones by patients and an investigation of the effect of the lack of technical words in indigenous languages to validate patient consent for a telemedicine consultation.

The first study was a descriptive survey of two groups comprising 137 urban patients attending private practitioners and 139 patients in remote rural areas attending outpatient departments in Government-funded hospitals.

The questionnaire covered topics such as demographics, mobile phone use, privacy and confidentiality and future use of mobile phones for health-related matters.

Research by Mars and Jack found that a third of participants shared their mobile phone with others, a quarter lent their phone to others and more than half received health-related messages for other people. This has significant implications for patient confidentiality.

Mobile phone theft was common as was number changing. Thirty-eight percent of the people were not able to afford airtime for more than a week in the past year and 22 percent of rural patients were unable to keep their phone charged. Mobile phone signal coverage was significantly worse in the rural areas than in urban areas.

Mars said the study highlighted the ethical ramifications that practices such as phone sharing would have on mHealth programmes in the province and the country.

‘Healthcare professionals need to consider how patients use and manage their mobile phones when developing mHealth services. We need to understand how people use their phones and be aware that people may be sharing phones,’ said Mars.

‘Care needs to be taken over the content of SMS text messages sent to patients so that we don’t put patients at risk if other people get their messages such as: “Please come and get your HIV medicines”. We also need to understand the culture of confidentiality in our local communities and understand who makes health related decisions - the individual, family or community.’

The second study explored a concern that the lexicons of African languages have not kept pace with technology and technological terms.

‘With over 2 000 languages in Africa we need to establish if patients understand what they are consenting to when they sign an informed consent form for a telemedicine consultation,’ said Mars. ‘This study in isiZulu is the only such study in an African language. Of great concern is that only 34% of patients understood the meaning of “consent” in their own language, and only 7.4% understood the meaning of the first sentence of our informed consent form which reads: 'I give consent to participate in a telemedicine consultation'.

‘We’re planning to conduct the same study in Rwanda, Mozambique, Uganda and Zimbabwe to see if it is a common trend or if there are any differences. It also raises the issue of the cultural interpretation of the word consent.’

‘We need to develop a simplified way of getting valid informed consent from patients in languages that don’t have words for relevant technology. We are working on a comic strip approach that combines visual messages with what is being said or read. We welcome input and collaboration from the greater University community in this endeavour,’ said Mars.

He believes mHealth has the potential to facilitate telemedicine services, particularly in the developing world. ‘South Africa currently has 96 registered programmes exploring the use of cell phones for the provision of healthcare. This is the second highest in the world after the USA.’

His work is internationally recognised and in recent weeks he has been an invited speaker in India, the Annual Grand Challenges Meeting of the Gates Foundation in Seattle, and the International Society for Telemedicine and eHealth Conference held in Paris in conjunction with Catel, the French eHealth Society.

Mars commended the work of Jack who will graduate in April next year.

 Nombuso Dlamini

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Humanities Student Wins African Doctoral Dissertation Research Fellowship

Humanities Student Wins African Doctoral Dissertation Research Fellowship
PhD student, Ms Lydia Hangulu, who was recently awarded the African Doctoral Dissertation Research Fellowship.

College of Humanities PhD student in Health Promotion in the School of Applied Human Sciences, Ms Lydia Hangulu, has been awarded the African Doctoral Dissertation Research Fellowship (ADDRF) by the African Population Health Research Centre (APHRC), a leading pan-African institution in Kenya.

‘I thank my supervisor Dr O Akintola and my mentor Professor D McCracken for their support. I feel so proud to have this award as it motivates me to work hard and finish my doctorate within the required time frame and contribute to society,’ said Hangulu.

The programme targets doctoral students with a strong commitment to a career in training and/ or research. The overall goal of the ADDRF Programme is to support the training and retention of highly skilled, locally-trained scholars in research and academic positions across the region.

Hangulu’s research is on "Policy and Practice of Health Care Waste Management in Home-Based Care for People Living with HIV and AIDS in Durban, South Africa".

Thanks to the Fellowship, Hangulu has attended a workshop, completed modules and has received certificates in introduction to research, research ethics and evaluation, and informed consent to research.

‘This knowledge has equipped me with research skills for my own study and has also improved my mentoring and supervision skills.’

Xoliswa Zulu

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UKZN Hosts SA Property Law Teachers Colloquium

UKZN Hosts SA Property Law Teachers Colloquium
From left: Dr Mikhalien DuBois; Professor John Mubangizi; Professor Anne Pope; Professor Warren Freedman; Professor Gerrit Pienaar and Professor Jeannie Van Wyk.

The annual South African Property Law Teachers Colloquium hosted by the School of Law provided a platform for academics to exchange knowledge and share insights on the latest developments in the field of property law.

The three-day Conference, first hosted by the School in 2006, featured 12 presentations covering a broad spectrum of property law issues including the basic principles of property law, real security law, land reform, constitutional property and property theory.

Speaking at the event, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Law and Management Studies, Professor John Mubangizi, said the Conference was in line with the University’s goal of pre-eminence in research as it created a research link between UKZN and other South African universities.

‘Conferences like this one also provide a platform and an opportunity for networking and collaborations among academics from various institutions and organisations,’ said Mubangizi. ‘In particular, it is a good opportunity for established researchers to engage with each other and with the younger academics to create sustainable research networks and collaborations that will thrive beyond the Conference.’

The Colloquium was preceded by the Postgraduate Day which provided 12 masters and doctoral students with an opportunity to present their work and gain valuable feedback from property law scholars on their research topics. This allowed the students to establish a network with experts in this field, which is vital for future collaborations and journal publications.

The School’s Deputy Academic Leader in Research, Professor Warren Freedman, who co-ordinated the Conference, said the event gave participants a good sense of current research in the field of property law which resulted in the papers presented being published as journal articles.

‘One of the most important outcomes was to catch up with colleagues from other universities working in the same field and to meet new colleagues. Over the past 20 years, the Colloquium has helped build a community of property Law scholars in South Africa. As a result, property law is one of the most collegial branches of the study of law in South Africa today,’ he said.

The Colloquium was made possible by the generous sponsorship of Juta, ENS Africa, Venn’s Attorneys and Lexis Nexis.

Thandiwe Jumo

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Accounting Lecture Explores New Revenue Standard

Accounting Lecture Explores New Revenue Standard
Accounting students at a talk on the new Revenue Standard.

Leading accounting firm, PKF South Africa, presented a guest lecture on the new Revenue Standard (IFRS15) to Accounting 300 students on UKZN’s Pietermaritzburg campus.

The lecture, facilitated by Accounting Lecturer, Ms Navitha Sewpersadh, aimed to inform students about the new Revenue Standard and its impact on companies, giving them a real-world view of industry practice.

The lecture also provided a platform for PKF, as a prospective employer, to gauge talent UKZN has to offer as students were given an opportunity to showcase their knowledge on the IFRS15 standard in a question and answer session.

Commenting on the lecture, Sewpersadh said: ‘The lecture introduced students to the new Revenue Standard in the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) that was issued by the IASB.  Students are expected to know this standard for their studies and for application in the commerce industry.

‘The lecture was well attended and the students enjoyed the opportunity to actively participate in the quiz and to be rewarded with prizes sponsored by PKF.’

PKF’s Technical Manager, Mr Minette van der Merwe, said interacting with the students had been a ‘wonderful experience’.

‘It was such a pleasure lecturing to future chartered accountants of South Africa - these bright young people can achieve anything they want to. We look forward to interacting with the students of UKZN again,’ said van der Merwe.

Accounting student, Ms Deepika Ramruthan, who was one of the students whose financial knowledge earned her a prize, said what she learned during the lecture would be useful when she pursues her postgraduate studies next year.

‘The lecture helped change my understanding of how revenue is to be recognised in the future. The lecturer was well prepared and questions were answered clearly and concisely,’ said Ramruthan. ‘Considering that this standard will be assumed knowledge in honours next year, PKF has assisted us in our learning. Leaving the lecture with a good understanding of the new revenue standard was definitely a good feeling - winning the PKF bag with all the goodies was a bonus,’ she said.

Thandiwe Jumo

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Portuguese Guest Lecturer and Honours Students Present Research

Portuguese Guest Lecturer and Honours Students Present Research
From left: Dr Patricia Opondo; Mr Jose Chemane; Ms Nontobeko Sibiya; Mr Lebogang Sejamoholo; Ms Thabile Buthelezi; Ms Ana Miguel and Mr Nhlakanipho Ngcobo.

Visiting Portuguese Scholar and international Ethnomusicologist from the University of Aveiro, Ms Ana Flávia Miguel, gave a guest lecture during the African Music and Dance Archive Activities at UKZN.

This was followed by Applied Ethnomusicology Research Projects being presented by four honours students.

Miguel’s presentation focused on two applied ethnomusicology projects in a Cape Verdian community (Kova M) in Portugal. In one example, featured the celebration of Saint John’s Day on 24 June, when the main thrust is Kola San Jon, a performative practice which includes music, dance and artefacts.

‘The celebration of Saint John’s Day provides an opportunity to promote dialogue between Cape Verdian immigrants and several organisations in the host country. In 2013 "Kola  San Jon" was included in the Portuguese List of Intangible Cultural Heritage and Saint John’s Day is seen, by Cape Verde immigrants, as a new and creative dialogue window,’ she said.

Miguel also spoke about the project under the theme: "Skopeofonia - participatory and dialogic study of musical practices". Skopeofonia is a project of the University of Aveiro in Portugal and involves a team of 11 researchers comprising university seniors, PhD students and Kova M unemployed residents. ‘The aim of the project is to build up a musical archive for the neighbourhood, mapping the musical activities in Kova M and to produce a documentary about all the research processes during the project activity,’ said Miguel.

Research presentations by the students were then featured. Mr Nhlakanipho Ngcobo examined: "Emerging OrganisationsFunding and Representation of Arts and Cultural activities in South African Townships".

'This research paper was based on the experience that I had during my service learning requirement in the module Public Sector Ethnomusicology and Community Development, which requires all students who enrol in Applied Ethnomusicology to provide technical assistance of any form in any community arts organisation,’ said Ngcobo.

‘I looked at the challenges emerging organisations such as the Social Development Association of South Africa (SODASA), which is the organisation I worked with, face when applying for funding in South Africa, and also looked at how township organisations represent arts and cultural activities in this context, as some are working under a high crime environment and they use arts to alleviate such stigma.’  

His presentation also critically examined whether criteria used by funding organisations or government help emerging organisations to sustain themselves.

Student Mr Jose Chemane focused on the service learning experience working with the Consulate of Mozambique in Durban. The theme of the presentation was: "Articulating Cultural and Outreach Programmes through the Consulate of the Republic of Mozambique in Durban".

‘In the course of my Service Learning I played a dual role: to give technical assistance in cultural and other educational matters to the Consulate, and to act as a facilitator/mediator of the traditional music and dance group of immigrants from Mozambique based in Clermont Township. I am currently working with this community in my Honours project research.’

Chemane was assigned to assist a group of traditional dancers from Mozambique - the Xigubo de Bela Vista Group - that were invited to take part at the Umghubu Festival in Durban. He suggested relevant documents the group needed to travel - besides valid passports and permits for the instruments, translated the Group Profile and other documents from Portuguese to English and liaised with the Festival organisers.  

‘It was a platform to articulate theory of applied ethnomusicology into practice. I was also assigned to organise an event aiming to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of struggle for National Liberation and the Armed Forces for Defence of Mozambique Day.’

Ms Nontobeko Sibiya examined: "Using capitalisation performance for Educational purposes: collaborating with performers of the Catalina Theatre December Children’s Project.  ‘Education is for all and I believe that every child deserves to learn. My goal is take theatre to every child. In my project", I work with performers to educate children as I believe that every child should see all these plays.’

Another topic that was explored was by Ms Thabile Buthelezi who looked at Promoting African Music and Dance together with indigenous instruments through collaborative participation with the BAT Centre staff and facilitators.

Speaking about the joint event, UKZN Lecturer Dr Patricia Opondo said, ‘The event provided an opportunity for Honours Students in the Applied Ethnomusicology programme to present results from their service learning in community arts centres and organisations dealing with culture.’

‘Their research findings will form part of African Music and Dance Archives which is a teaching-research resource initiative that I established in 2007, under the umbrella of the African Music Project, to serve as a repository of research generated from the African Music and Dance and Applied Ethnomusicology Programmes at UKZN.’

‘The event also marks the initial visit to establish a collaborative research project with INET (Instituto de Etnomusicologia - Centro de Estudos em Música e Dança) at the University of Aveiro, Portugal, and it has been a great pleasure hosting Ana Flavia Miguel. During her three-week visit she has made important contributions to the Applied Ethnomusicology and the recently staged 9th Annual African Cultural Calabash at Howard College Theatre.’

During the Culture Week seminar, Opondo and Miguel presented a joint paper titled: "Celebration of Cultural Heritage through Applied Ethnomusicology Projects".

Melissa Mungroo

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Education Students Teach Matric Learners

Education Students Teach Matric Learners
From left: Mr Sandile Dlamini; Mr Bhekingcebo Magwaza; Mr Thanda Nyawo; Mr Nkosinathi Shabalala and Mr Sboniso Luthuli.

Seven Education students were involved in teaching Grade 12 learners in a rural high school - Charles Hlengwa High School in Illovo - recently.  This is a result of a joint community engagement project between the College of Humanities and the College of Law and Management Studies.

The recent Winter School initiatives in the College of Law and Management extended into mentoring learners in their respective school areas. School workshops in Umbumbulu, Ixopo and Inchanga presented by staff and tutors from the Teaching and Learning unit supported teachers and learners. 

A special request was made by a principal from Umbumbulu for support for Matric learners. Edgewood student teachers were requested by Dr Angela James to provide this support. The students visited the disadvantaged school to provide motivation and to help the learners with problem areas in their subjects so that they can pass matric and enter universities. The students, ranging from first to final year, spent their weekends with the groups of learners, teaching them Accounting, Maths, Physical Sciences and isiZulu.

Mr Sandile Dlamini stated that they saw improvement in the learners’ grasp of the subjects. ‘We observed the potential of the learners, but because the school is under-resourced and the school environment isn’t conducive to learning, properly so we decided to spend more time with them. They are all willing to learn, they just needed someone to guide them and provide assistance.’

Mr Thanda Nyawo also added, ‘We come from disadvantaged backgrounds and from rural schools so we understand the challenges the learners face. And we hope that they do produce good matric results so that they can enter university and make a success of their lives. We see ourselves as a living testament to that and we hope that we also inspired those learners.’

Mr Bhekingcebo Magwaza pointed out that they hope that the matric teaching initiative will expand to more schools and will involve a larger number of Education students so that more subjects are catered for. ‘If we all embark on this together as a committed united movement, we can really make a difference and it would in turn make us into better teachers.’

On the topic of the teaching profession, Mr Nkosinathi Shabalala said, ‘As a teacher, you have to be sensitive and understand your learners and offer help whenever it is needed. A teacher is responsible and accountable for the learners and we should be striving to ensure they excel.’

Mr Sboniso Luthuli highlighted that this initiative has made him value teaching and the power it has to change lives. ‘We loved working with the learners and we hope to go back to the school and our alma maters and start teaching Grade 10 learners so they will have a solid understanding of their subjects. We hope that the learners will come to love Maths and Science and we hope that the perception towards these subjects change. And a good teacher can help change that.’

The students also thanked their Lecturer Dr Angela James for assisting with the logistics of the initiative and to the School and its learners for participating.

The School Principal Ms Nokuthula Goba said: ‘On behalf of the School, learners, educators, parents and the School governing body we wish to extend our gratitude and appreciation for sending such dedicated, hardworking, ambitious students to assist us. The mission was carried with great tact and the impact is so evident and we know the results will attest the impact of their contribution’

‘We also wish that this becomes the beginning of a tradition that will be continuous between the two institutions hence maintaining the excellent performance of the school from now onwards. If I were to be given a chance to assess the performance of the group individually out of 10. I would give all of them eight and I can confirm they would become great teachers. God bless them abundantly.’

Melissa Mungroo

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Students Plant Trees on Howard College Campus

Students Plant Trees on Howard College Campus
Development Studies Environment Students planting trees on the Howard College campus as part of their Environment and Development module.

Students from the School of Built Environment and Development Studies (BEDS) planted indigenous trees supplied by the UKZN nursery on the Howard College campus as part of their Environment and Development masters module.

The students were led by colleague and tree activist Mr Justin Bradfield and their Lecturer, Ms Catherine Sutherland.

‘Justin approached me to plant trees as part of my Environment and Development module and I thought it was an excellent idea,’ said Sutherland.

‘We always have a field trip for this module and each year students give something back as part of their learning. This year Justin took the initiative to organise this which was fantastic. I think it is a great idea for students to plant a tree on campus and to leave something that will grow into a beautiful reflection of nature’s energy.’

Bradfield said: ‘I have been a "tree activist" for many years, planting trees in cities from Pretoria, to Rome and Dhaka. It is part of my mission to educate people about the benefits of trees and to try to stop trees from being cut down due to unregulated development. I feel it is necessary to not only learn about the environment, but also for students to leave a positive legacy. We have done this through planting new indigenous trees on campus.’

The module teaches students about the effects of climate change and natural resource management on people and the cities in which they live. ‘Tree planting is an important part of augmenting a city's resilience, reducing urban heat islands, water run-off and promoting diversity. Therefore, tree planting ties in nicely with the theory,’ said Bradfield.

‘Trees are not only beautiful, but vital to the ecology and environmental services of the city. Durban is extremely lucky to have such a beautiful tree cover but we need to fight to keep it and every person has a responsibility to do so.’

He believes that tree planting helps students move beyond theory and actually apply what they learn in a small way. ‘It's also good for students to leave a legacy of their time at UKZN, and also improve the biodiversity of our campus.’

Melissa Mungroo

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UKZN Academic Scoops Best Audiology Presentation Award

UKZN Academic Scoops Best Audiology Presentation Award
Ms Samantha Govender.

An Audiology Lecturer at UKZN, Ms Samantha Govender, received the Discovery Clinical Excellence Award for the best Audiology presentation at the 50th Ear, Nose and Throat Surgeons, Audiologists, Speech and Language Therapists Congress held in Cape Town.

Govender’s study titled: “Cochlear Function in Patients with Chronic Kidney Disease" - evaluated cochlear functioning in patients between the ages of 18 and 45 with varying stages of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD).

Using purposive sampling, 50 participants, 10 in each of the five stages of CKD, were selected and underwent Pure Tone Audiometric testing and distortion product otoacoustic emissions (DPOAEs).

Govender said there were complications associated with CKD which resulted in a decrease in the quality of life.

One such complication was auditory dysfunction. Govender explained that auditory system complications in patients with CKD were multifactorial, arising due to ototoxic effects of treatment regimens associated with CKD, concomitant conditions such as diabetes mellitus, hypertension and lupus as well as the pathophysiology of the disease itself.

‘Research, particularly within the South African context pertaining to CKD and hearing loss is scarce, however, international literature indicates that the cochlear appears to be the most affected part of the auditory system in patients with CKD. This is due to the relationship between the cochlear and the kidney, making the physiology of the cochlear dependent upon normal kidney function.’

Patients in stage one and two of CKD presented with normal pure-tone thresholds and DPOAEs, suggesting that cochlear functioning in these patients was normal.

The study found that participants in the latter stages of CKD presented with early cochlear dysfunction and subclinical hearing loss. This subclinical hearing loss resulted from a combination of electrolytic, urea and creatinine imbalances, together with concomitant medical conditions as well as ototoxic drug intake.

The study concluded that audiological monitoring be included in the management of patients with CKD and that DPOAEs be introduced as part of the test battery to monitor cochlear function in patients with varying degrees of CKD.

Govender, who said she was humbled to receive the award and represent UKZN at the Conference, acknowledged her research supervisors Mr Cyril Devdas Govender and Professor Glenda Matthews.

The study was also presented at the College of Health Sciences Research Symposium as well as at this year’s South African Association of Audiologists Symposium.

Govender, the proud recipient of the SANPAD-SANTRUST Scholarship, said her role within facilitating early detection and intervention through research made her passionate about her work.

‘The field of Audiology is growing rapidly in terms of its scope of practice as well as depth of research and development. Auditory pathology is given little attention, among other more pervasive conditions, however, as the evidence base is increasing regarding the negative effects of unmanaged auditory pathology, more individuals are becoming aware of the importance of protecting their auditory system.’

Govender motivates her students to be responsible and passionate health care professionals who aspire to bring about positive change to their patients. She also encourages introspection and critical evaluation of decision-making among them.

Govender enjoys reading and watching the TV series "Grey’s Anatomy" in her spare time.

 Lunga Memela

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ASSAf Inaugurates New Members and Recognises Top SA Scientist

ASSAf Inaugurates New Members and Recognises Top SA Scientist
Professor Rob Slotow (centre) with UKZN scientists Dr Nesri Padayatchi, Professor Quarraisha Abdool Karim, Professor Dhayendre Moodley and Professor Sabiha Essack.

Three College of Health Sciences academics have been made members of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) which also presented Professor Quarraisha Abdool Karim with a Gold Medal for outstanding achievement in scientific thinking to the benefit of society.

The new ASSAf members are the Dean of the School of Health Sciences and Professor in Pharmaceutical Sciences, Professor Sabiha Essack; Associate Professor and Head of Women’s Health and the HIV Research Unit at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Professor Dhayendre Moodley, and Deputy Director of the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA) and the South African Principal Investigator for the Columbia University-Southern African Fogarty AIDS International Training and Research Programme, Dr Nesri Padayatchi.

The three UKZN academics attended ASSAf’s Annual Awards and Inauguration Ceremony where Abdool Karim received one of two annual ASSAf Science-for-Society Gold Medals.  The other medal was awarded to Professor Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the University of the Free State and President of the South African Institute of Race Relations.

Abdool Karim and the three new Members were congratulated by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of UKZN’s College of Health Sciences, Professor Rob Slotow.

ASSAf was formed in response to the need for an academy of science in harmony with the dawn of democracy in South Africa – activist in its mission of using science for the benefit of society.

ASSAf states that the core functions of any national science academy require that the country’s most outstanding scholars are made members.

The Academy inaugurated 23 new members at this year’s ceremony, swelling its numbers to 445, all of whom are recognised as being among South Africa’s top scholars.

Lunga Memela

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All’s Well in World of Microbiology and Biotechnology in KZN, says Scientist

All’s Well in World of Microbiology and Biotechnology in KZN, says Scientist
Westville and Pietermaritzburg students at the 27th Annual SA Society for Microbiology (KZN) Symposium.

Microbiology and Biotechnology are in a very healthy state in KwaZulu-Natal and as leading disciplines they will make the greatest contribution to the challenges facing Africa in areas of water, food, agriculture, human health, and the environment.

This is according to the Dean of Teaching and Learning at UKZN’s College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science, Professor Bala Pillay, who was speaking at the 27th Annual SA Society for Microbiology (KZN) Symposium hosted by UKZN’s Discipline of Microbiology on the Pietermaritzburg campus.

The annual Symposium gives young researchers at honours and BTech levels an opportunity to showcase their research findings to their peers.

Microbiologist Pillay said it was noteworthy that the KZN Symposium was the most successful regional Conference of the South African Society of Microbiologists.

‘We have sustained this Conference for 27 years. It is a great platform for young scientists at honours and BTech levels from the three tertiary institutions in the province - UKZN, the Durban University of Technology (DUT) and the University of Zululand (UniZul).’

Pillay said that the Symposium had become highly competitive over the years.  ‘Even though this Symposium is for entry-level scientists, we find lots of potential for innovation,’ he said.

Opening the symposium, UKZN Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research, Professor Jonathan Blackledge, elaborated on how microorganisms affected every aspect of life on earth.  ‘The unique capability of microbes to change our bioeconomy and environment cannot be overemphasised,’ he said. ‘Some microbes cause disease but the majority produce useful chemicals, food, biopharmaceuticals, biofuel and they clean up our environment.

‘In modern times, the use of microorganisms as biotechnological agents for profit has increased explosively. Modern biotechnology is now a multi-billion dollar sector worldwide.’

The 27th Symposium attracted 64 young scientists who presented a diverse range of research.  Judges said that generally, the research was both cutting-edge and relevant to KwaZulu-Natal and the continent.

After a successful day of presentations, prizes were awarded to the top presenters.

First prize in the Bioprocess Technology session went to UKZN’s Mr Preshanthan Moodley with Ms Kimberly Bruce also of UKZN in second place.

Ms Siyanda Shezi of UKZN won first prize in the Enzyme Technology, Phytochemistry and Mycology session, with Ms Reshmika Bachoo of DUT the runner-up.  The Bacteriology session was won by Ms Selisha Naidoo of UKZN, followed by Ms Wendy Mthembu of UniZul.

Ms Nokulunga Hlengwa of UniZul won first prize in the Gene Cloning and Expression session with colleague Ms Yonela Ntamo second. 

In the Environmental Microbiology session, Ms Ruqsar Bibi Ismail of UKZN was the winner with second prize shared by UKZN’s Ms Tashiana Beharielal and Ms Bethany Rebekah Nathaniel.

Academic Leader for Research and Higher Degrees in the School of Life Sciences, Professor Stefan Schmidt, gave a warm vote of thanks to the organising committee as well as to the judges and session chairs.

He thanked keynote speakers: Deputy Director Biotechnology at the National Department of Science and Technology, Mrs Beaulla Mathebula, and Bioprocessing Platform Manager at the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), Mr Sani Gumede.

In closing, Schmidt paid tribute to the student presenters and their supervisors, who had conceptualised and sustained great research ideas.

 Sally Frost

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UKSU Celebrates Growing Membership

UKSU Celebrates Growing Membership
UKSU members at the 2014 AGM.

An increase in membership was highlighted at this year’s University of KwaZulu-Natal Staff Union (UKSU) Annual General Meeting held on the UKZN’s Edgewood campus.

Members came out in force to support the meeting and raise their concerns.

Union Chairperson, Mr Raymond Parkies, commended the commitment of members and urged them to continue recruiting new members. He added that he hasn’t seen a union that grows so rapidly.

The membership has grown to 1 027 members excluding those that have resigned or retired.

Buses from the other UKZN campuses transported members to and from the AGM where new members of the Union’s executive were presented. The Union executive agreed it had been a challenging year but said they had worked hard to ensure members’ concerns were resolved.

Presentations on the Union’s financial report, minutes from the last AGM, the monthly membership fee, constitution changes, and feedback on the status of certain concerns raised were presented by different members of the executive.

Parkies thanked members for their support and for making UKSU the largest union. Deputy Chairperson, Mr Melusi Dlamini encouraged members to become active members of the executive committee.

Sithembile Shabangu

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LeadSA Hero Award for Therapists Musical Intervention with the Elderly

LeadSA Hero Award for Therapists Musical Intervention with the Elderly
Ms Felicity Anne Crouch.

The lives of hundreds of senior citizens living in Durban’s old age homes have been touched by a musical intervention introduced by UKZN-affiliated Occupational Therapist, Mrs Felicity Anne Crouch.

Crouch was recently named a LeadSA Hero for her unique project which involved residents at six old age homes taking part in a singing competition.

Each home organised a choir of "frail elders" to practice two songs and to learn the South African national anthem. Held in the Muthande Community Hall with lunch supplied by the eThekweni Municipality and the Office of the Premier in Pietermaritzburg, the competition was a resounding success!

Three hundred elders and staff from Muthande, Issy Geshen, John Dunn House, KwaMashu Christian Care home, and the Abalindi, Ekhanana and Zibabaleni old age homes attended.

The choirs lifted their voices and everybody enjoyed singing, dancing, and socialising with each other amid friendly competiveness.

Crouch said: ‘Many old age facilities do not employ occupational therapists or activity assistants and as a result, the frail are not involved in meaningful activity.’

Crouch, who lectures part-time in the Occupational Therapy Discipline at UKZN, works as Clinical Supervisor for first and second-year students. Now in private-practice and passionate about geriatrics, her work with the elderly extends to Tafta on Ridge, John Dunn House, Issy Geshen and the Outspan in Durban.

Crouch runs a stroke club fortnightly at Tafta on Ridge and also works two days a week at the Issy Geshen Old Age Home in Lamontville.  Social workers often ask her to visit clients in their own homes which she does compassionately.

She recently championed the annual Tafta Stroke Awareness Walk on the Durban beachfront.  ‘I initiated this project three years ago to encourage people who have suffered strokes to come to our beautiful beach front, meet others who have been through the same experience and to walk their own walk – whether it be a few steps or a long walk.  It started with about 25 stroke survivors and this year’s numbers went up considerably.’

On the walk there were information tables for glucose and blood pressure testing set up by the Heart and Stroke Foundation, Saint Giles Gymnasium and OTs from King Dinizulu Hospital who gave advice to participants.

Together with a partner, Crouch runs upskilling courses for carers at various elder care facilities in the greater Durban area.  ‘We teach carers about the various medical conditions prevalent in the elderly population and how they can help these people.  We also stress the importance of exercise and activities to keep elders active. 

‘I love working with the elderly.  They have so much to tell us… they have lived through so much history… but we need to take the time to listen to their stories.

‘Families need to take responsibility for their elders.  So often when old frail people are admitted to a care facility and family members abandon them and expect the facility to take care of all their needs.  Families need to be involved and to visit regularly.’

Crouch hopes to see the elderly’s singing competition grow from strength. ‘I felt very honoured to be nominated as a LEADSA Hero.’

News about her award was recently published in The Sunday Times and she hopes it made people more aware of the plight of the elderly. 

Lunga Memela

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Young Neuroscientist Wins Conference Prize for Honours Project

Young Neuroscientist Wins Conference Prize for Honours Project
Awarded for her Honours project, Ms Rivona Harricharan.

A UKZN Masters student in Physiology (Neuroscience) won the Emerging Young Scientist Award for an Honours project she presented at this year’s Physiology Society of South Africa Conference.

Ms Rivona Harricharan’s study examining an HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder also won her the award for Best Oral Presentation in the Category Human Body: Form and Function at the School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences’ (LMMS) Research Symposium earlier this year.

The study, supervised by Dr Veneesha Thaver and the Dean and Head of UKZN’s School of LMMS, Professor William Daniels, was titled: "Tat-induced Histopathological Alterations Mediates Hippocampus-associated Behavioural Impairments in Rats".

Its aim was to provide further insight into the fundamental effects of Tat – the multifunctional protein that contributes to several pathological symptoms of HIV-1 infection as well as playing a critical role in virus replication – on the central nervous system and to explore it as a possible aetiological factor in the development of the HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder.

Harricharan said: ‘We specifically focused on the histopathological consequences of Tat injected directly into the dorsal hippocampus of rats. The effects of the Tat injection on the cognitive function of the animals were also investigated.’

The study indicated that direct injection of Tat protein into the hippocampus of rats may lead to learning and memory deficits in these animals. ‘This impairment in cognitive behaviour was associated with significant abnormalities in the microarchitecture of the hippocampus. Although several recent studies have shown Tat protein to be a promising candidate for a vaccine in HIV infection, we were interested in examining its adverse effects,’ said Harricharan.

Implications from the study may positively impact the fields of immunology and neuroscience, say the researchers. ‘In the field of neuroscience, the escalating volume of research being conducted generates novel findings. These discoveries offer promising new targets for therapeutic interventions and possibly a way to reduce the damage caused by HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders.’

Harricharan (23) said winning the prizes for a project she conducted at Honours level was really special.

‘It’s amazing to try and understand how the brain works. It’s such a complex and mysterious organ. Even making a small discovery about how it works, is a huge stride toward the advancement of neuroscience.’

Her on-going masters research is in close lineage with the honours project and now includes stress as a new paradigm to the model.

Harricharan said from a young age she always wanted to do medical work, especially related to the brain. She plans to stay in academia, pursue a PhD, promoting neuroscience and good mental health even further in South Africa.

‘I love the fact that being in academia challenges you every day to be the best at what you do and can achieve.’

She believes many South Africans live with neurological diseases without being diagnosed, making neuroscience a fertile field for young researchers who want to make a difference by contributing to the development of neuroscience in South Africa.

Lunga Memela

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Work of Canadian Professor Inspires Occupational Therapists at UKZN

Work of Canadian Professor Inspires Occupational Therapists at UKZN
Professor Rachel Thibeault at the public lecture.

The remarkable achievements of the University of Ottawa-Canada’s Professor Rachel Thibeault in the field of Occupational Therapy were outlined during a public lecture she delivered at UKZN during a four-day visit.

Staff, students and a host of health professionals said they were inspired by the sterling contribution Thibeaut had made pursing her passion in the interrelated fields of occupational therapy, psychology and community development globally.

Occupational Therapy uses human occupation as an intervention to promote health and well-being. The primary goal of specialists in the field is to enable people to participate independently in their activities of daily living.

As an expert in the field, Thibeault said she was equally inspired to learn about the work done by UKZN Occupational Therapists in improving the quality of life for KwaZulu-Natal communities.

She specialises in community-based rehabilitation, psychosocial care, and issues of meaning, resilience and social justice in health care. Her research focuses mainly on community-driven models of rehabilitation services in hard-to-access settings such as areas affected by HIV and AIDS, former or current war zones, and leprosy communities.

In 2013 Thibeault was awarded the title of Officer of the Order of Canada for expanding the boundaries of occupational therapy.

Thibeault’s participatory action research has also taken her to the High Arctic, South East Asia, Central America, Europe, Africa and the Middle East. She said she preferred to work from a participative perspective that fostered community decision-making at all levels and promoted approaches which built on the principles of sustainable livelihoods, service integration and social inclusion.

Thibeault reflected on this during her public lecture titled: "Occupational Justice and Community Development: Key Milestones and Considerations".

She said what she learned the most was not in the classroom but out working in communities, and through patients and their wisdom. The work of an occupational therapist had much greater impact if those involved were sensitive to culture and took time to listen and engage with members of the community before devising a strategy for intervention. She said for her ‘the simple act of listening, shaped the whole sequence of events to follow’.

Thibeault explained that community development and occupational therapy were the perfect fit because the community development process unfolded through an occupational therapy lens. Through her work, she learned that participation and social inclusion were key to unlocking every community’s potential.

She shared tools, tips and principles to help guide occupational therapists to successful rehabilitation of patients even in adverse situations.

During the four-day visit, Thibeault conducted two workshops, a panel discussion and the public lecture which were all well received. She also went out to the Occupational Therapy discipline’s community learning sites where she was hosted by students in Kwadebeka and Mariannridge. Thibeault found that the students were accomplished clinicians, advocates and community activists.

Proudly named a member of UKZN’s OT family, it is envisaged that Thibeault will return in June 2015 when she will build capacity around Participatory Action Research and relevant tools for this type of qualitative inquiry.

Lunga Memela

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UKZN Academic Receives NRF Rating

UKZN Academic Receives NRF Rating
Professor Betty Mubangizi.

Professor Betty Mubangizi’s valuable contribution to the research ethos of the College of Law and Management Studies has earned her a National Research Foundation (NRF) rating.

The rating is awarded to researchers who have been identified as leaders in their fields of expertise in recognition of their constant high quality research outputs taking into consideration the evaluation made by local and international peers.

For Mubangizi, being awarded the C-rating after going through the rigorous application process which involved an independent team of highly regarded academics from local and international institutions carefully reviewing her submission, was a great achievement.

‘The rating came as a pleasant surprise but not an unexpected one for I have worked to attain academic excellence ever since I joined the then University of Durban-Westville14 years ago,’ said Mubangizi. ‘As a late entrant into academia, I was acutely aware that my progress would be an uphill battle.  However, I was also aware of the various support mechanisms that were on offer by the newly established University of KwaZulu-Natal.

‘Not only did I receive a doctoral grant which assisted with my doctoral studies, I was also fortunate to obtain a Thuthuka Grant on completion of my doctorate. There is something about research funding, however little, that tends to boost a junior researcher’s confidence propelling them to greater heights – so it was with me,’ said Mubangizi.

Apart from the NRF rating, Mubangizi’s recent highlights include guest editing the Loyola Journal of Social Sciences (Volume 27 (1)) a multidisciplinary, peer-reviewed biannual journal which is published by The Loyola College of Social Sciences in India.

She was part of the high powered panel consisting of Deputy President Mr Cyril Ramaphosa and ANC provincial Chairperson and KwaZulu-Natal Premier, Mr Senzo Mchunu, which reflected on Mandela’s legacy in a political discussion hosted by the African National Congress (ANC) at Durban’s City Hall in July as part of a series of activities conducted by the national and provincial structures of the political party's Mandela Day tributes.

Mubangizi also received an NRF Research Grant early this year which will run for a three-year cycle and will, in part, fund two PhD students and at least three Masters Students from the School of Management, Information Technology and Governance.  

One of the projects under Mubangizi’s multi-faceted research will focus on Folweni Township – a peri urban township on the outskirts of eThekwini municipality. The research focuses on the niche area of sustainable livelihoods, community development and local governance within rural and peri-urban areas.

The research is informed by her passion for social justice, community-based solutions to social issues and the effects of responsive private and public institutional contribution to sustainable livelihoods. It started with her doctorate that focused on pro-poor service delivery. 

For Mubangizi being recognised as one of UKZN’s prolific researchers is motivation to continue working hard and helping others along the way.

‘Currently I am on top of the proverbial “great hill’’ and while the view is good, I cannot rest for long for, as Mandela reminds us, “there are other hills to climb”. 

‘As I climb and seek other vistas I am aware that "to whom a lot is given – much is expected’’. I will thus continue supporting other young academics by helping them publish their work through the Loyola Journal of Social Sciences for which I regularly serve as guest Editor. I will also continue to source funding for my students - I am currently funding 2 Masters and 2 PhD students - and I will continue to supervise postgraduate students,’ she said.

College Dean of Research, Professor Marita Carnelley said the College was proud of Mubangizi for achieving this milestone.

‘To have been rated as an “established researcher”, to use the NRF terminology, means that her academic peers recognised that she has a sustained recent record of productivity; a coheret quality body of  work that attests to ongoing engagement within her field and a demonstrated ability to conceptualise problems and apply research methods to investigating these problems.

‘In addition, she is a real asset to the College and the School of MIG as a complete academic. Not only is she a strong researcher as her rating shows, but she is also an excellent teacher and effective supervisor with strong administrative and managerial skills. On top of all that, she also works incredibly hard,’ she said.

Thandiwe Jumo

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UKZN Students Attend AAE Summer School

UKZN Students Attend AAE Summer School
Participants at the AAE Summer School.

The School of Management, Information Technology and Governance (MIT&G) sent eight postgraduate students to the 8th American-African-European (AAE) Summer School hosted by the University of the Witwatersrand.

The two-week academic management programme is an interdisciplinary and intercultural study programme for postgraduate students from Chemnitz University of Technology and University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) and the University of Witwatersrand.

Students, selected from across the School’s various disciplines, were: Ms Vashenka Naidoo and Mr  Eddison Shumba both of Management and Entrepreneurship; Mr Msizi Zulu and Mr Shivesh Ramsout both of HRM/IR, Mr Jaryd Daniel,  Ms Lisa Pillay and Ms Seaheng Mohale of Marketing and Supply Chain Management, and Mr Vidhatha Maharajh  of Information Systems and Technology.

These students were accompanied by the School’s Academic Leader in Teaching and Learning, Mr Taahir Vajeth, and Organising Assistant, Ms Khalida Akbar.

The theme of the Summer School was: "Responsible Management and Educational Practices towards Creating Sustainable Business and Government".  This theme was based on the Principles of Responsible Management Education (PRME) and  saw the  Special Adviser to the  PRME Secretariat, UN Global Compact, Professor Manuel Escudero deliver the keynote address.

All the students presented around this theme and the UKZN representatives did very well. The formal and informal discussions that emanated from these presentations and from those of the academics were extremely stimulating and the students enjoyed this interaction.

Students began sharing insights and perceptions based on their personal, cultural and continental experiences and also went on site visits to the different parts of Johannesburg observing the informal sector in operation.

The students expressed their sincere gratitude for being given this opportunity, which broadened their horizons and their ability to be able to interact on a global level. This experience impacted on the lives of the students and provided them an opportunity to contribute as global citizens.

The 9th Annual AAE Summer School 2015 will most probably be hosted by Chemnitz University of Technology in Germany.

A video presentation of some of the participants will feature at the UN PRME Conference in November, when Global Compact LEAD champions meet online on 20 November for the 5th LEAD Symposium on: The Future Corporation.

Taahir Vajeth

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Contributing to Knowledge on Good Governance a Priority for UKZN Academics

Contributing to Knowledge on Good Governance a Priority for UKZN Academics
Professor Purshottama Reddy at the Good Governance Conference.

School of Management, Information Technology and Governance academics were among local government experts who participated in the 20 Years of Local Democracy in South Africa: Quo Vadis? Towards Good Local Governance, Conference, hosted by the Democracy Development Programme (DDP) and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) in Durban.

The academics were Professor Purshottama Reddy, Dr Fayth Ruffin, Dr Maurice Dassah and Dr Thokozani Nzimakwe.

The Conference was attended by high-ranking officials in local, provincial and national government; senior politicians, representatives from Non-Government Organisations involved in local government, senior academics, researchers and the leadership of national and international development agencies.

They addressed issues critical to ensuring the success and sustainability of the local government system in the third decade of democracy through the sharing of knowledge and best practices in good governance.

Programme Co-ordinator Reddy said the Conference provided an excellent forum for key role players and stakeholders to exchange ideas, information and dialogue on the current state of local government post 1994.

‘The DDP and  KAF both have a successful story to tell in this regard as they have been part of this process since the early 1990s and all of their activities and initiatives have been documented  - be it workshops, conferences, publications or even advocacy.

‘The “back to basics strategy” which has become a popular and powerful mantra in local governance in South Africa has to be backed by the required political and management will. There has to be firm and decisive leadership, especially when working with local communities,’ said Reddy.

City Insights founder and former eThekwini Municipal Manager, Dr Michael Sutcliffe, and the Head of Department for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs in Kwazulu-Natal, Ms Nonhlanhla Qhobosheane, were the keynote speakers at the event.

Sutcliffe’s address focused on the ‘Back to Basics Strategy’ introduced by the Government which highlighted responsibility, public accountability and ensuring delivery as key elements of a good municipality, while Qhobosheane provided an overview of the Government’s Back to Basics Strategy, highlighting some of the challenges currently being faced by municipalities in KwaZulu-Natal.

Mr Sbu Zikode, the leader of Abahlali basemjondolo -a social movement of shack dwellers, delivered a presentation titled: "Twenty Years of Hell in Shacks".

Thandiwe Jumo and Purshottama Reddy

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Top Sport Science Students Recognised for Academic Achievement

Top Sport Science Students Recognised for Academic Achievement
From left: Ms Taylor Henry, Ms Nokuthula Mtshali, Ms Benina Mkhonto, Professor Johan van Heerden, Mr Alexander Mckerrow and Ms Nonzaliseko Bangisi.

UKZN’s Sport Sciences Discipline recently held its annual prize-giving day which recognised first, second and third-year top-achiever undergraduates who were ranked among the leading five academic achievers in their class of 2014. 

Mr Alexander Mckerrow was the top third year student, Ms Taylor Henry the high flier in second year and Mr Kyle Loganathan the top achiever in the first year class. 

Certificates were awarded to the top five of each class and the students were congratulated by School of Health Sciences Academic Leader for Research and seasoned Sport Scientist, Professor Johan van Heerden. 

Van Heerden said the same group of students had remained in the top five in the various levels since they enrolled in the Sport Sciences programme at UKZN. The same set of students were active members in the College of Health Sciences’ Academic Mentorship programme, juggling time from their studies and extra-mural activities to also mentor junior students in the Sport Sciences Discipline. 

The day’s programme included fun-filled physical activities, with van Heerden reminding all that exercise was medicine not just for the body but also for the brain. He said research showed that individuals performed better cognitively after they became involved in regular sport. 

‘Leading an active lifestyle releases endorphins which clear the mind and allow good cognitive processes,’ said van Heerden. 

Mckerrow, who spent six months in Canada doing personal training, said he also enjoyed playing squash and swimming. He said he was excited to receive the award and looked forward to pursuing his Honours in Biokinetics after completing his degree. 

The same sentiments were shared by Henry who is excelling as a gymnastics coach. 

One of the award-winning second-year students, Ms Nokuthula Mtshali of Pietermaritzburg, said although the Sport Sciences programme was sometimes challenging, receiving the certificate and an invitation to join the Golden Key International Honour Society, proved that there was nothing she could not achieve in life. 

‘The award-winning students were examples for others to follow,’ said Ms Benina Mkhonto, Academic Development Officer in the Discipline of Biokenetics, Exercise and Leisure Science.

The 2014 recipient of UKZN’s prestigious Distinguished Student Award, Ms Kelly Sloley, completed the Sport Sciences programme summa cum laude while Mr Zethembiso Mabaso completed his degree cum laude.

Lunga Memela

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