UKZN Academics with a Passion for Paediatric Palliative Care

UKZN Academics with a Passion for Paediatric Palliative Care
KwaZulu-Natal paediatric palliative care experts, Ms Tracey Brand (right) and Dr Julia Ambler with her sons Luke and Jack.Click here for isiZulu version

UKZN honorary lecturers in the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Dr Julia Ambler and Ms Tracey Brand are providing paediatric palliative care through their organisation Umduduzi Hospice Care for Children.

Umduduzi, established in 2013, is a non-profit organisation in KwaZulu-Natal offering compassion, dignity, relevant care and relief from discomfort and pain for children diagnosed with life-threatening or life-limiting conditions.

A qualified Medical doctor, Ambler spent six years in the United Kingdom where she was inspired to focus on paediatric palliative care as a general practitioner and a children’s hospice doctor at Helen and Douglas Houses in Oxford.

She serves as the Deputy Director and Head of clinical services at Umduduzi and also consults in children’s palliative care and trains health professionals and medical students. She has contributed chapters on paediatric and neonatal palliative care in five different textbooks and was instrumental in writing local clinical guidelines, the most recent involving care during COVID-19. As a communication skills expert, she is also a workshop facilitator for the Medical Protection Society.

Brand is an alumnus of UKZN with undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications in Social Work. Also the holder of a Postgraduate Diploma in Marriage and Counselling, she opened the Durban Branch of the Bigshoes Foundation in 2008 where she cultivated an interest in paediatric palliative care. Since then Brand has been involved in teaching and training doctors, nurses and social workers in paediatric palliative care and has designed course work material for the purpose. She also provides direct services to children and their families.

Umduduzi has been instrumental in reaching out to families in KwaZulu-Natal through the management of pain and symptoms in young children, while providing social, emotional and spiritual care and support for bereaved families. Umduduzi serves the community with compassion, dignity and relevant care and relief from discomfort and pain, with services offered through direct patient care, mentorship, empowerment of caregivers, training and advocacy.

Ben Hawkes was diagnosed with osteosarcoma (bone/tumour cancer) at the age of 10. He fought it bravely undergoing chemotherapy, limb salvage surgery and radiation therapy but a few months after treatment the cancer metastasized and was found in his lungs. After aggressive chemotherapy and radiation, his condition continued to deteriorate and Ben’s oncologist estimated he had only three days to live.

Ben’s mother Mrs Angela Hawkes takes up the story: ‘It was on the Saturday night that I got a phone call from one of the Umduduzi board members who had heard via a cousin about our son Ben’s story and told me about Umduduzi Children’s Palliative Care. All I remember saying was thank you but the oncologist had said Ben probably wouldn’t make it through the weekend.

‘Then the strangest thing happened, Ben started to seem like he was getting stronger and feeling better. I googled Umduduzi, found their contact details, emailed them at midnight and at 8am we received a phone call from Dr Ambler and she was at our house at 1pm that same day.

‘Dr Ambler talked to us about palliative care, what we could expect and a conversation about death. The most notable thing to come out of the chat was that one should never rely on timelines about the passing of a loved one as we found out with Ben living at home with us for almost another seven weeks. Dr Ambler advised us on what to expect in the dying stage, discussed extra pain medication to ensure Ben would be pain-free as much as possible and how we were all coping emotionally.’

‘Ben died peacefully at 2am in his bed at home surrounded by all those who love him. Those last seven weeks we had with our son were the most terrifying, heart-wrenching, but most special time and having the support of Umduduzi, helped us immensely. The grief of losing a loved one never goes away and I know, two years on that we still shed a tear almost every day but sharing Ben’s final moments at home as a family was and always will be very special.’

Said the Head of the Department of Paediatrics and Child Care, Professor Refiloe Masekela: ‘Umduduzi provides support and care for children and their families through the hospice and in-patient support as the only dedicated provider of paediatric palliative care in KwaZulu-Natal. Through their passion and compassion, they provide our “little” people with comfort and a voice.’

Ambler and Brand live in Durban with Ambler’s sons, Luke and Jack.

Umduduzi relies solely on donations and sponsorships to run its services. To donate or become involved in the organisation, email info@umduduzi.co.za or visit the website at www.umduduzi.co.za

Words: MaryAnn Francis

Photograph: Supplied


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UKZN Hosts Virtual Dr Killie Campbell Lecture

UKZN Hosts Virtual Dr Killie Campbell Lecture
Participants in the virtual Dr Killie Campbell Lecture, Mr Mphumeleli Ngidi and Dr Roshini Pather.

UKZN in collaboration with the Campbell Collection hosted the annual Dr Killie Campbell Lecture, which focused on the January 1960 uMkhumbane police killings.

Sources for the discussion included reports from UmAfrika and ILanga Lase Natali newspapers, which are archived in the Killie Campbell Africana Library.

UKZN’s Portfolio Head for Special Collections Dr Roshini Pather said: ‘Dr Killie Campbell believed records should be collected and maintained, dealing with every aspect of our nation and that all records should be available to every earnest student seeking knowledge.’

Pather outlined how Campbell had donated her valuable collection of books, photographs, journals, newspapers and paintings to the then University of Natal which has since been administered by the Killie Campbell Africana Library.

A lecturer in the History department of UKZN’s School of Social Sciences, Mr Mphumeleli Ngidi, said: ‘On the 24 January 1960 nine South African policemen were killed by an angry mob in Cato Manor, popularly known as Mkhumbane, while on a routine raid for illicit liquor. The area had a multiracial population of Africans, Indians and Coloureds who had migrated from rural villages in order to be closer to work in Durban.

‘The incident highlighted several grievances by local residents including their resistance to the apartheid government’s forced removals under the Group Areas Act.’

Cato Manor, founded in 1845 and named after the first Mayor of Durban Dr George Cato, was officially proclaimed a White area in 1958 in terms of the Group Areas Act No 41 of 1950. This resulted in a large number of people being removed and, similar to what happened in areas such as Sophiatown in Johannesburg and District Six in Cape Town, apartheid authorities were determined to disperse the multi-racial community of Cato Manor in order to maintain the racial divide.

‘Although there were different accounts of what had triggered the police attacks on that day the most popular version remains that a policeman, Constable Mchitheni Biyela, had stepped on a woman’s toe. Court proceedings identified the woman as Beatrice Mokoena,’ Ngidi said. 

From reports published in the isiZulu newspapers UmAfrika and ILanga Lase Natali it is estimated that about 500 community members ambushed and brutally killed five Black and four White policemen. 

The Government declared a State of Emergency in Mkhumbane with gatherings prohibited for four weeks - the exceptions being funerals or gatherings which had obtained an official permit, according to reports in UmAfrika.

‘Twenty-nine suspects were tried between 1 August and 2 December 1960 and 10 were sentenced to death. They appealed and one received a lesser sentence while the remainder, known as the Cato Manor 9, were hanged on 5 September 1961. Their families were not allowed to bury them,’ Ngidi added.

Earlier this year, the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Mr Ronald Lamola, handed over the exhumed remains of the Cato Manor 9 - buried by the Apartheid government in different parts of Pretoria - to their families.

The Cato Manor police killings were a prelude to the Sharpeville Massacre, still commemorated annually as Human Rights Day on 21 March.

The Cato Manor police killings led to accelerated forced removals of Indian people to the Phoenix area and African people to KwaMashu and uMlazi townships in April 1960.

No White people have occupied the land since 1964, leaving Cato Manor a predominately Black area.

Head of the Special Collections section at the Killie Campbell Africana Library Mr Senzo Mkhize thanked the panellists and organisers of the event.

Words: Hlengiwe Khwela

Photographs: Supplied


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Education Academic Receives Research Honours Award

Education Academic Receives Research Honours Award
Education academic, Professor Kathleen Pithouse-Morgan.Click here for isiZulu version

Professor Kathleen Pithouse-Morgan of UKZN’s School of Education has been awarded the prestigious South African Education Research Association (SAERA) Research Honours Award for outstanding contributions to educational research in South Africa over a sustained period.

This national award is made annually to an individual or research entity for an extraordinary impact on educational research in the country. 

‘The award recognises my work over the past decade in facilitating transdisciplinary self-reflexive research locally and internationally,’ said Pithouse-Morgan. ‘I have collaborated with many other academics to support and guide communities of university educators and postgraduate students interested in enacting self-reflexive methodologies, using creative and participatory approaches.’

Serving as Chair of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Self-Study of Teacher Education Practices (S-STEP) Special Interest Group (SIG) and Convener of the SAERA Self-Reflexive Methodologies SIG, has allowed Pithouse-Morgan to witness the collective creativity of the global self-reflexive community of scholars. These collaborations have supported and extended her research in professional learning.

In turn, she has a passion for and strong commitment to mentoring newcomers to self-reflexive research.

‘I trust that this award will offer encouragement to other self-reflexive scholars, whether beginners or more experienced, who wish to gain insight into their professional selves and practices using creative approaches,’ she said. ‘The award is a validation of how imaginative inquiry in the company of diverse others can produce new ways of knowing that have significant implications for educational and social change. I am inspired to move forward in opening new spaces for self-reflexive research that can change the status quo for professional knowledge and practice on a global level.’

Pithouse-Morgan’s scholarship is in the field of professional learning, with a specific focus on better understanding and supporting teachers as self-directed and self-developing learners. Through the self-reflexive methodologies of self-study research, narrative inquiry, and autoethnography, her work documents and theorises how teachers can gain vital insights into their professional selves and practices - with critical implications for personal-professional growth and social transformation.

Using creative and transdisciplinary approaches, Pithouse-Morgan has collaborated across contexts and continents to study methodological inventiveness in professional learning research. Her academic work has given rise to a unique design of “poetic professional learning” as a literary arts-inspired research mode.

She was recently named as an executive editor of the international and multidisciplinary journal, Teaching and Teacher Education (TATE) – among the first academics from an African university to be appointed to the position on the publication, one of the most prestigious educational research journals globally.

In 2018, Pithouse-Morgan received UKZN’s Distinguished Teachers’ Award and in 2019, was awarded the coveted National Excellence in Teaching and Learning Award by the Council on Higher Education (CHE) and the Higher Education Learning and Teaching Association of Southern Africa (HELTASA)

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Supplied


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Former SA Deputy Chief Justice Shares Insights into His New Book

Former SA Deputy Chief Justice Shares Insights into His New Book
All Rise: A Judicial Memoir by former Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke.Click here for isiZulu version

All Rise: A Judicial Memoir - a new book penned by former Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke - was the focus of discussion at a webinar hosted by UKZN’s School of Law in collaboration with Pan Macmillan Publishers.

Facilitated by the Dean and Head of the Law School, Professor Managay Reddi, the debate involved panellists - including Law School academic Professor Warren Freedman and senior advocate at the Durban Bar, Ms Andrea Gabriel, SC - discussing Moseneke’s 16-year term on the Constitutional Court Bench, the current judicial landscape, the future of South Africa’s judiciary, constitutionalism and the role of civil society.

Speaking during the webinar, Moseneke described the work as not just a memoir but a history book that recalled the establishment of the Constitutional Court in 1994 and debates at the time, about whether Nelson Mandela had appointed an appropriate Bench. Highlighted in the book is the background to the establishment of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) by the Government of National Unity in 1996 to help deal with the atrocities under apartheid. The book ends with a discourse about the Life Healthcare Esidimeni tragedy which involved the deaths of 143 people at psychiatric facilities in Gauteng from causes including starvation and neglect. Justice Moseneke was appointed by the State President to chair the Commission of Inquiry into the tragedy.

Also described is Moseneke’s journey to being appointed Deputy Chief Justice, the contests for political power within the ruling elite, how judgments are written, and the vast range of responsibilities attached to judicial functions, among many other interesting issues.

‘This “judicial memoir” details some of my experiences on the bench, which many judges, particularly South African judges, are reluctant to disclose as the culture is one of silence and non-disclosure. Hence, I saw this as an opportunity for me to break that culture,’ said Moseneke.

In his remarks, Freedman spoke about criteria for the appointment of a new chief justice which takes place next year, and whether it was time to install South Africa’s first female chief justice.

Gabriel asked that when Moseneke says ‘All Rise,’ how should civil society, Law students and legal counsel live up to this call to action?

Moseneke responded that South African citizens should call for civil accountability and should engage in active citizenry. ‘People must realise that civil accountability is part of their duty. We need young people to occupy positions where they energise those institutions that we need to operate efficiently,’ he said. ‘I want bright young lawyers coming out of our universities to be inspired to be in the mould our current National Director of Public Prosecutions Shamila Batohi, and saying they also want to be prosecutors.

All Rise is meant to awaken our young people and society to the fact that there is a lot that can be done and a lot that we have to do,’ said Moseneke.

Reddi advised everyone to read the book, which she describes as a candid account of Moseneke’s experience as a jurist.

‘The parting piece of advice that he has given us, which I hope will resonate with everyone, is that we have to try to be active citizens and all rise to the occasion. The book has been written in a style that makes it relatively easy for everyone to understand,’ said Reddi.

‘Justice Moseneke has generously donated 30 copies of the book to UKZN - they will also be available to students in disciplines other than Law, in the libraries on our various campuses,’ she added.

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

Photograph: Supplied


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Launch of New Book on Edendale by Wits Academic

Launch of New Book on Edendale by Wits Academic
Professor Sheila Meintjes with her new book.

The College of Humanities recently co-hosted a virtual book launch of In the Shadow of the Great White Queen: The Edendale Kholwa of Colonial Natal 1850-1906, by Professor Sheila Meintjes of the University of the Witwatersrand.

Others involved in organising the launch were local NGO Sinomlado Centre, Queens University in Canada, and the Msunduzi Library.

The launch was part of the Edendale History Project, a community engagement initiative seeking to document the history of Edendale in Pietermaritzburg.

Meintjes has painstakingly chronicled the history of Edendale and the complex socio-political factors that influenced its development.

The book tells the story of Kholwa, a zealous African convert to the Christian faith convinced about the supremacy of its spiritual value and about the Edendale community’s pre-colonial origins, its formation and its interactions in colonial society. It draws heavily on the historiography of South Africa that emerged during the 1970s and 1980s, beginning with the merging of Africanist and materialist concerns.

The book, based on Meintjes’s doctoral thesis, chronicles the history of one of the earliest 19th century mission stations in colonial Natal, and traces the transformation in the lives of a community that settled first at Indaleni near Richmond and later at Edendale, a few kilometres from Pietermaritzburg.

‘Edendale’s history is rapidly disappearing from the collective memory as old people pass away,’ said Meintjes. ‘The background of the sources used in writing the book had to be interpreted through the prism of their particular social context in order to be used with any fruitfulness in reconstructing the history of the Edendale community. Whatever views were expressed by missionaries, officials, newspapermen or colonists had to be understood within their particular ideological perspective, and particular circle of social reality,’ said Meintjes.

Professor Marc Epprecht of Queen’s University noted that the book reconstructed nearly two centuries of contestation over land, governance, human rights, identity, housing, sanitation, public health, and the meaning of development while representing a nuanced and timely presentation of South African responses to changing times, conditions, opportunities, and state interventions.

Bringing gender and health issues to the foreground, Epprecht says the book reveals many unexpected or forgotten triumphs against environmental injustice, as well as unsettling continuities between colonial, apartheid, and post-apartheid policies to spur economic growth.

‘Sheltered from the glare of national media and often overlooked by scholars, smaller cities like Edendale attract political patronage, corruption, and violent protests, while rapid climate change promises to further strain their infrastructure, social services, and public health,’ he added.

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photographs: Supplied


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Webinar Debate Probes Whether Cancer Be Beaten

Webinar Debate Probes Whether Cancer Be Beaten
Participants in the webinar (clockwise from left): Professor Nombulelo Magula, Professor Motshedisi Sebitloane, Dr Zuzile Zikalala, Dr Blossom Lungelwa Sigonya, and Dr Avikar Singh.

The possibility of surviving and thriving while living with cancer as a chronic illness was the focus of discussion at a webinar hosted by the College of Health Sciences in partnership with UKZN’s Corporate Relations Division.

Facilitated by Head of Internal Medicine Professor Nombulelo Magula, the debate highlighted the diagnosis of, treatment for and possible recovery from various types of cancer, including ovarian and cervical, head and neck, breast and prostate.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cancer is the second leading cause of death globally and was responsible for an estimated 9.6 million in 2018. Globally, about 1 in 6 deaths is due to cancer.

In 2018, South Africa recorded 107 476 new cases of the disease with 57 373 people dying from it.

The most common type in women is breast cancer while among men it is prostate cancer. The National Cancer Registry of South Africa recorded 223 102 active cases of cancer over a five-year period.

UKZN’s Head of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Professor Motshedisi Sebitloane said, ‘According to the Cancer Association of South Africa, despite breast cancer being the most common type of the disease in women, it was cervical cancer that was the biggest killer, which is related to several subtypes of HPV. With regards to ovarian cancer, women highest at risk are those between the ages of 50-60, with a family history of cancer, gene mutations including breast cancer Gene 1 (BRAC1) and BRAC2, long-term use of Estrogen hormone replacement therapy as well as the early onset of menstruation or starting menopause later in life.’

Sebitloane said there was no easy fix for ovarian cancer. ‘There is no pre-malignant phase and since the ovaries are located deep in the pelvis, they are not easily accessible for screening. Most women are unfortunately only diagnosed when they are stage 2 or 3. However it is preventable by longerm (at least 5 years) use of the combined oral contraceptive pill, which has been shown to afford protection of at least 15 years beyond usage. Screening involves identification of high risk families, as well as detection of Ca 125, a tumour marker, followed by pelvic ultrasound,’ said Sebitloane.

Dr Zuzile Zikalala is a radiologist and Head of the KZN Breast Care Centre of Excellence based at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital (Imaging). She also serves as an honorary lecturer at UKZN and is involved in registrar training, also spoke at the event. Passionate about women’s health and specialising in breast cancer imaging, Zikalala said 201 million women were diagnosed annually with breast cancer, resulting in 627 000 deaths.

The risk factors include being female, having BRAC1 and BRAC2, obesity, consuming alcohol and smoking as well as hormone therapy.

Amongst men, about 1% was diagnosed with breast cancer.

‘It is important to create an awareness that breast cancer can be beaten through screening, self-breast examination, early diagnosis, and an annual mammography for women over the age of 40,’ said Zikalala. ‘Government needs to invest more in research, innovation and technology development.’

Another speaker, Head of the Department of Otorhinolaryngology (ENT) at RK Khan Hospital in Durban and an honorary lecturer at UKZN Dr Blossom Lungelwa Sigonya is an advocate for prevention by an awareness of risk, early detection and management of head and neck cancer as this ensures better outcomes and organ preservation.

According to Sigonya, head and neck cancers usually involve malignant tumours that develop in or around the throat, larynx, nose, sinuses and mouth. ‘Most head and neck cancers are squamous cell carcinomas. Causes include smoking, consuming alcohol, eating betel nut, poor dental hygiene, and prolonged sun exposure in lip cancers, environmental and occupational inhalants and chronic viral infections.’

Sigonya stressed that consumption of alcohol and smoking were the leading causes of up to 75% of all head and neck cancers while surgery, chemotherapy and radiation were the primary treatments. She said head and neck cancers could be beaten through quitting bad habits, timeous assessment of lesions, reducing the risk of HPV infection, maintaining proper care of dentures and using sunscreen daily.

A junior consultant urologist at Saint Aidan’s Regional Hospital in Durban and an honorary lecturer at UKZN Dr Avikar Singh has been involved in the care of patients with prostate cancer throughout his training and time as a urologist. Singh said prostate cancer (PC) was the most common non-cutaneous malignancy in men.

‘One in eight men between the ages of 60 and 80 are diagnosed with PC. ‘Men at risk are those above the age of 55, with a family history of either PC or who have a mother or daughter who was diagnosed with breast cancer as well as Black African men and those with diets rich in saturated fat and red meat.

Singh says PC can be beaten if detected and diagnosed in the early stages.

Magula closed the webinar saying: ‘So it seems that most cancers can be beaten through early diagnosis and treatment, screening and prevention. It is important that we get this message out to encourage people to screen early on so that treatment can begin.’

•   Sebitloane announced that on 17 November, a global strategy to accelerate the elimination of cervical cancer will take place online between 14h30 and 16h00. More information is available on the WHO website: www.who.int

Words: MaryAnn Francis

Photograph: Supplied


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Voices of Education Students Present on Service-Learning

Voices of Education Students Present on Service-Learning
Education students (from left) Mr Luthando Molefe, Ms Jennifer Sheokarah, Ms Lungelo Mdluli and Ms Caitlin Govender.Click here for isiZulu version

Four Education students gave a presentation on a Service-Learning Forum Webinar hosted by eThekwini Municipality’s Municipal Institute of Learning (MILE) under the theme: Service-Learning for Social Transformation.

A senior lecturer and Academic Leader, Dr Angela James supervised the presentation for Community Engagement in the School of Education.

Mr Luthando Molefe, an Education honours student (Teacher Development Studies), said Service-Learning was a teaching and learning strategy that integrated meaningful community service/engagement with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility and strengthen communities.

‘The benefits of Service-Learning are that it provides students with the practicality of applying what they have learned in the classroom space while also developing their interpersonal skills such as the ability to create a platform of working well with each other and to build leadership skills. Academically, it provides students with critical thinking skills, cognitive development, and problem solving and decision-making skills,’ he said.

Ms Jennifer Sheokarah, a PhD student (English Language Education), said: ‘Service-Learning combines two of my most favourite things: Research/Learning and making a difference in the community. I believe that it is of utmost importance to combine the two as it is not only good to enhance oneself but also others in the process, making it a win-win situation.’

She says ‘aspects of Service-Learning form part of my PhD which I am currently pursuing, where I empower African second language learners using innovative and unconventional teaching and learning methods.’

Ms Lungelo Mdluli, a Bachelor of Education student, spoke about the implications of Service-Learning for academics, particularly pre-service teachers. ‘Teachers and learners spend the majority of their time together during school hours. However, teachers’ understanding of their relationship with learners and their colleagues is highly influenced by the planned curriculum. Little time is spent on conversations about the situations within communities,’ she said.

‘Through Service-Learning, academics are one body using a professional approach to uncover those stories that cannot be told from a distance but are only stimulated by a relationship formed during Service-Learning, in which people tell the truth about their already seen or evident circumstances.’

Education Honours student Ms Caitlin Govender spoke about her journey. ‘Getting a job, doing a few magnanimous deeds now and then and going on with my life, I did not know my actual role in society and my community and I think that’s a concern for students. A question that we should be asking for our students is what role will they play in their communities in the future? Are they not just doing this for credits, marks, or their daily jobs? Reflections are one of the most crucial aspects for transformation because without looking back and reflecting, we live them as merely experiences or memories.’

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photographs: Supplied


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