Junior Doctors Receive the Bongani Mayosi Medical Students’ Academic Awards

Junior Doctors Receive the Bongani Mayosi Medical Students’ Academic Awards
Recipients of the Bongani Mayosi Medical Students Academic Awards are Dr Zama Dlamini (left) and Dr Sphindile Tini.Click here for isiZulu version

UKZN’s Dr Zama Dlamini is the winner and Dr Sphindile Tini the runner-up in the inaugural Bongani Mayosi Medical Students’ Academic Awards for the class of 2020.

The awards recognise final-year Medical students who epitomise the academic, legendary and altruistic life of the late Professor Bongani Mayosi.

UKZN was one of several universities that participated in the competition where final-year MBChB students select a classmate who in their opinion is skilled in balancing academic excellence, emotional intelligence, interpersonal skills and social accountability.

Dlamini won R6 000 and Tini R4 000.

‘I feel honored especially because Professor Mayosi was such a great leader, academic achiever and a supportive person who I respect,’ said Dlamini. ‘I am humbled to be viewed by colleagues as an individual who possesses the qualities required to win the award. It serves as an incentive for me to continue developing myself to be a better person for the benefit of the community.’

She aspires to be a great leader and an exceptional doctor promoting health as well as ‘treating everyone with a caring heart’.

Born in Umzimkhulu in KwaZulu-Natal, Dlamini yearned to help the sick after seeing family and community members dying from diseases such as HIV/AIDS, asthma and cancer. Studying medicine gave her the opportunity to ‘change the world and heal the sick’.

Said Tini, ‘I am really honoured by the award. To me it confirms that I have done well and people have taken notice. In life, we should try to be the best we can be regardless of the circumstances we face. Along the way we make mistakes, we stumble but when you get such recognition, it’s really a pat on the back and you know you have done something right and left your mark.’

Growing up in Inanda, Durban, Tini always wanted to help people, be influential and make a difference in the lives of others. She believes the best way to do that is to alleviate suffering and bring about hope through medicinal practices.

She aspires to further her studies after community service and specialise. She trusts God to guide her and show her the way.

‘Coming from a township, being a woman and being Black I’ve always had to work twice as hard to get what I wanted. I was hell bent on changing the narrative and inspiring others. Through Prof Mayosi, I have learned that your race and your economic situation should never limit your dreams. You can be all that you have ever wished for, you just have to believe in yourself and be prepared to work hard.’

Words: Lihle Sosibo

Photographs: Supplied


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UKZN Academic and Scientist Elected Vice-Chair of Adult and Child Lung Health Section

UKZN Academic and Scientist Elected Vice-Chair of Adult and Child Lung Health Section
Professor Refiloe Masekela.Click here for isiZulu version

Paediatric pulmonologist, researcher and Head of the Discipline of Paediatrics and Child Health at UKZN Professor Refiloe Masekela has been elected Vice-Chair of the Adult and Child Lung Health Section (ACLH) by the International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease.

The union, established in 1920 as the first of its kind, has been instrumental over the years in guiding global policy and research agenda around TB and lung health.

The ACLH has a five-year strategy to achieve improved lung health, with priorities being asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), child pneumonia, post-TB lung disease and environmental risk factors for lung disease.

Said Masekela: ‘It is an honour to be elected Vice-Chair of the ACLH and I hope to make a meaningful input and give a voice to Africa on the global lung health table. Addressing lung health issues across the life course from the intra-uterine period to old age is critical if we are to tackle non-communicable lung diseases and improve lives. As the Vice-Chair of the Adult and Lung Health Section, our focus will be on lung health priorities more so in low to middle-income countries. We will input into the conference agenda, share research and grow the network to improve lung health for the most vulnerable in society.”

Her term of office commences during the annual World Conference on Lung Health in October this year.

Masekela obtained her undergraduate medical degree at Wits, completing her specialist paediatrics training at the University of Pretoria and her Fellowship in Paediatric Pulmonology at the Catholic University in Leuven in Belgium and the University of Pretoria.

Her research interests are bronchiectasis in children - both in HIV- infected children as well as in cystic fibrosis cases. She also has an interest in lung physiological testing, particularly lung function testing in children and the determination of normative lung reference equations in African children and adults.

She has published in peer-reviewed publications and written three book chapters on respiratory diseases in children. She has presented her research and given invited lectures at national and international pulmonology congresses, and is a passionate teacher who has been involved in both undergraduate and postgraduate teaching, supervising 13 masters students to graduation. She is an NRF C3-rated researcher and has acted as a reviewer for local paediatric and pulmonology journals and masters and doctoral theses.

Words: Lihle Sosibo

Photograph: Supplied


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UKZN Alumnus Installed as Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Zululand

UKZN Alumnus Installed as Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Zululand
Bishop Vikinduku Mnculwane.Click here for isiZulu version

‘Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would become Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Zululand. I had always thought of myself as a parish priest, but I guess God had other plans,’ said UKZN alumnus Bishop Vikinduku Mnculwane.

Growing up in Escourt in KwaZulu-Natal, Mnculwane was involved with the church from a young age and in 1987 responded to the calling and entered a seminary in the Eastern Cape to be trained as a priest.

He obtained a Master of Theology Degree in Systematics at the then University of Natal in 2003 and a Doctor of Administration Degree in 2016. Reminiscing on his student days, Mnculwane said: ‘The kind of supervision I received from my supervisor has remained deeply etched in my memory. I enjoyed the one-on-one sessions we had and being introduced to other ways of conducting research which were not necessarily hypothesis-driven.’

Mnculwane has occupied a variety of leadership positions including Director for the Heritage Unit in the KwaZulu-Natal Office of the Premier; and the Acting Chief Executive Officer of Amafa AkwaZulu-Natal, now known as the KZN Amafa and Research Institute.

He was serving as the Rector of the St Augustine’s parish in Umlazi, Durban, when he was elected Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Zululand which serves 283 congregations in rural areas such as Eshowe, Empangeni, KwaNongoma, Vryheid and Nquthu, ministered to by 47 clergy, 16 priests and four deacons.

As the chief pastor Mnculwane’s role includes proclaiming and teaching the Gospel, as well as upholding a sound doctrine.

Asked about his vision for the Diocese, he said: ‘As a leader you create a vision together with the people you lead.’

He says the church has had to learn to adapt to challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic by finding new ways of surviving - including through live streaming.

Mnculwane thanked those who had chosen him for the demanding role, paying tribute to the St Augustine’s parish and its community for teaching him so many things. ‘Truly I am blessed and privileged!’

Words: Hlengiwe Khwela

Photograph: Supplied


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Psychiatry Lecturer Awarded Atlantic Fellowship for Equity in Brain Health

Psychiatry Lecturer Awarded Atlantic Fellowship for Equity in Brain Health
Dr Khanyo Ngcobo.Click here for isiZulu version

Psychiatry lecturer at UKZN’s School of Clinical Medicine Dr Khanyo Ngcobo has been awarded the Atlantic Fellowship for Equity in Brain Health.

The Atlantic Fellows programme is based at the Global Brain Health Institute (GBHI) at the Trinity College Dublin, University of Dublin in Ireland in partnership with the University of California in San Francisco (UCSF) in the United States.

The GBHI strives to reduce the scale and impact of dementia locally and globally by training and supporting a new generation of leaders to develop and translate research evidence and innovation into more informed and effective policy and practice.

This fellowship is awarded to individuals who are committed to effecting change in the brain health community with an ability to implement effective interventions in vulnerable communities.

‘I am grateful to be selected as one of the 2021–22 Fellows. In my experience of working in mental health, issues that surround dementia care include stigma which often leads to delayed help-seeking; dementia screening of our population; and the lack of community dementia programmes and caregiver support programmes,’ said Ngcobo.

‘This fellowship offers me a chance to engage in projects and effective interventions aimed at advancing brain health giving me knowledge I can take back to my country with me once the fellowship is complete. I am really excited about this great opportunity.’

As an Atlantic Fellow, Ngcobo will have access to unique opportunities provided by the Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience, the School of Psychology and School of Medicine, Trinity’s partner hospitals and Mercer’s Institute for Successful Ageing as well as through collaboration with the institute’s many partners across disciplines, geographic boundaries and fields of expertise within the university and around Ireland.

Access to this impressive pool of expertise will assist her deliver on her own unique vision about how to lead major change in dementia prevention across the globe. The training will transcend continents as GBHI partners with UCSF and the other six Atlantic Fellows programmes worldwide.

Ngcobo leaves for Trinity College Dublin later this year.

Said Psychiatry Head of Department Professor Bonga Chiliza: ‘We thank Khanyo for the honour she has brought to the University of KwaZulu-Natal through her achievements and leading by example. We wish her the absolute best for the new journey. Well done on receiving this globally recognised and much-deserved award.’

Ngcobo, a specialist psychiatrist working at the King Dinuzulu Hospital in Durban, obtained her MBChB from UKZN’s Medical School in 2010, going on to be awarded a CMSA Fellowship in Psychiatry in 2019. She attained her Master’s degree (MMed-Psychiatry) from UKZN in 2020.

She has a very keen interest in research and is currently involved in numerous projects around dementia, including screening for dementia and feasible interventions. She is also involved in mental health and dementia advocacy and outreach where she works with a community-based programme offering dementia care and support to clients and their caregivers.

Words: Lihle Sosibo

Photograph: Supplied


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UKZN Students Scoop SASA Awards

UKZN Students Scoop SASA Awards
Award-winning Statistics students (from left) Mr Sbongiseni Mthethwa, Mr Sfundo Khumalo, Mr Siyabonga Mazibuko and Ms Zama Khumalo.

UKZN Statistics students have scooped the lion’s share of bursaries and scholarships on offer from the South African Statistical Association (SASA).

SASA makes awards available annually to outstanding students studying Statistics at third-year and honours levels. Out of the six awards on offer nationally, four went to students from UKZN’s School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science - all accompanied by the highly prestigious SASA merit certificate.

The association’s Education Committee gives bursaries to academically outstanding students who are in need financially with the awards based on academic results only. The committee assesses applications from students studying at approved South African universities, with comments and information from an academic referee contributing to the process.

Mr Sfundo Khumalo and Mr Sbongiseni Mthethwa received honours bursaries, Mr Siyabonga Mazibuko got a third-year bursary, while Ms Zama Khumalo received a third-year scholarship.

Khumalo has a proven track record of excelling academically - he completed his matric at Ikusasalethu Secondary School with six distinctions going on to notch 16 distinctions during studies for his BSc undergraduate degree at UKZN. The bursary will be of great assistance to Khumalo as he plans to continue studying until he achieves his PhD.

Mthethwa says the scholarship will help him achieve his dreams of becoming a data scientist. ‘I want to show young people that it is possible to achieve your dreams no matter where you come from,’ he said. He is overjoyed about making his mom proud, being accepted for an honours degree as well as getting a bursary.

Khumalo hopes to become a statistician or data scientist and through that help support her family. The SASA scholarship has assisted her to register for further studies in Statistics this year.

‘Having my hard work recognised and praised is a great feeling,’ said Mazibuko. The bursary had helped him psychologically as well as financially as it had given him the confidence to know he could be successful in 2021.

Said Dean and Head of the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science, Professor Delia North: ‘The Statistics Discipline at UKZN is proud of these young students. The awards are evidence that the ethos of revamping curricula, motivating young staff and working tirelessly with students is paying off,’ added North.

Words: Samantha Ngcongo

Photographs: Supplied


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Ethics in Dental Research Focus of UKZN Webinar

Ethics in Dental Research Focus of UKZN Webinar
Professor Shenuka Singh.

The College of Health Sciences partnered with the South African division of the International Association for Dental Research (IADR-SA) to host a webinar on ethics in dental research.

Presented by UKZN’s Professor Shenuka Singh the online event, which attracted more than 280 researchers, students and research supervisors aimed to create awareness of research ethics specifically in dental (oral and craniofacial) research and the need for researchers to ensure compliance with ethico-legal requirements.

Singh outlined how researchers could build a toolkit to act as a resource to support and encourage ethical practice in research.

The presentation included defining the nature and scope of research ethics and their application to clinical, laboratory and community-based dental research. The oversight role of research ethics committees was also outlined.

Singh reminded the audience that from a legal perspective researchers needed to be aware of legislation such as the National Health Act (Act 61 of 2003) and Protection of Personal Information Act (2013) (POPIA). ‘Researchers need to be aware of the requirements necessary for the lawful processing of personal information which include obtaining informed consent for initial processing, exercising minimality in collecting personal information and ensuring adequate safety guards for the storage and access of collection of personal information for research purposes.’

She guided the audience on developing a toolkit containing information on research ethics, legislative documents, national and international guidelines, a researcher code of conduct, and learning opportunities for ongoing engagement with research ethics.

IADR-SA has a mandate to promote and provide support for dental research through the global networking forum.

This was the first webinar offered by IADR-SA, according to its President, Dr Saadika Khan of the Faculty of Dentistry at the University of the Western Cape, who said the events were intended to raise awareness about the support IADR-SA could provide to dental researchers in South Africa.

The webinar was facilitated by Dr Rajeshree Moodley of the Discipline of Dentistry at UKZN, and Dr Ruan Scheepers of the Faculty of Dentistry at Wits.

Words: Nombuso Dlamini

Photograph: Supplied


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UKZN Alumnus and Singer NOSIHE Releases Live EP

UKZN Alumnus and Singer NOSIHE Releases Live EP
NOSIHE Zulu releases Emotions Live EP.

UKZN music alumnus and SA-based singer and songwriter NOSIHE Zulu has released an EP (extended play album) titled: Emotions Live EP which is available on iTunes and on www.nosihe.com.

Recorded live at UKZN’s Centre for Jazz & Popular Music, NOSIHE explores through her vocals the emotions produced by experiences in life, love and relationships on the five-track EP accompanied by a concert video, recorded on the day the EP was made.

Backed by her band comprising bass guitarist Freeman Gumede, drummer Lesedi Tlholoe, pianist Sanele Phakathi and trumpet player Thabo Sikhakhane, NOSIHE delivers new yet nostalgic sounds that pay homage to the art of live music and African jazz at a time when technology continues to overwhelm raw authenticity often so evident in live music.

‘We’re in a world where everything is curated into a perfect and finished form,’ said NOSIHE. ‘I want to bring people along the messy road because that is life. At the moment, my music is not in any genre, so I want people to get an opportunity to listen to it unedited and grow with me as my sound evolves and grows too.’

Emotions is the official follow-up to her experimental, unplugged Motions Mixtape project released in 2020. 

As a musician who finds herself at the intersection of soul, jazz, blues and even pop music, the Emotions Live EP represents a project and journey that allows NOSIHE to come into her own as an emerging African musician with global ambitions.

Creatively inspired by visual artist Dr Ester Mahlangu, who NOSIHE depicts beautifully on the album’s cover design, the project represents a moment in time when the singer lets go of stereotypes and limiting boxes and simply chooses to focus on making music for her audience and her peace of mind.

Musically, the EP draws from iconic live albums such as Letha Mbulu & Caiphus Semenya (Live), Mariam Makeba (Live at Bern’s Salonger, Stockholm, Sweden), Erykah Badu’s Live, and the classic Busi Mhlongo & Jabu Khanyile Live at the Market Theatre.

The full Emotions Live EP is available on iTunes or on www.nosihe.com, and the concert film is on sale and/or streaming through Apple Music.

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photographs: Supplied


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Clinical Sociologist Presents Paper on Stress and Mental Health Implications of COVID-19

Clinical Sociologist Presents Paper on Stress and Mental Health Implications of COVID-19
Professor Mariam Seedat-Khan.

Clinical Sociologist in UKZN’s College of Humanities Professor Mariam Seedat-Khan presented a paper in a plenary session during the Kandivli Education Society’s International virtual conference on the Stress and Mental Health Implications of COVID-19.

The conference, titled: Pandemic through a Gender Lens, attracted about 2 000 delegates from around the world.

The Kandivli Education Society is a pioneer Education Trust registered under the Society’s Registration Act 1860 and Public Trust Act 1950 (Mumbai). It is well known for its various educational services over the past 80 years, spreading education to thousands of students.

Seedat-Khan’s COVID-19 research adopted an inter-disciplinary Bio-Psycho-Social-Model. ‘The importance of interdisciplinary research during these unprecedented times calls for innovation and collaboration to identify significant challenges experienced by women,’ she said

Her paper identified opportunities to design collaborative clinical models that respond to significant social problems that intersect at multiple levels. ‘Areas of collaboration include, clinical sociology, bio-medical models, social psychology and neuroscientific theories,’ said Seedat-Khan.

Her work, which underscored the concept of existential confidence during a global pandemic, identified the impact of unique mental health challenges that emerge, for women in particular, associated with COVID-19 safety protocols.

Key intersections in the global South take account of the digital divide, economic-insecurity, disability and implications of social distancing.

Her presentation ended with object lessons for the future which included prevention strategies, preparedness, scientific research and global North-South contestations focussed on education, accessibility to vaccines and public health care infrastructure.

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Supplied


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Centre for Creative Arts hosted JOMBA! 2021 Masihambisane Dialogues

Centre for Creative Arts hosted JOMBA! 2021 Masihambisane Dialogues
Performers and speakers at the JOMBA! Masihambisane Dialogues.

The Centre for Creative Arts (CCA) within the College of Humanities hosted an open three-day dance colloquium on YouTube as part of the JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Festival.

Backed by support funding from the National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIHSS), the JOMBA! Masihambisane Dialogues focussed on new ways of engaging dance/performance scholarship, practice, and practice-led research in innovative, provocative and interesting ways.

JOMBA! Masihambisane Dialogues aims to support South African and African (and diaspora) dance and performance scholarship and research through accessible and community-driven strategies.

The event involved an international community of dance/performance scholars curating an engaging dialogue around dance.

This year’s curatorial committee included Dr Lliane Loots (UKZN); Mr David Thatanelo April (University of Pretoria); Ms Clare Craighead (Durban University of Technology); Mr Gift Marovatsanga (University of Zululand); Dr Sarahleigh Castelyn (University of East London, England); Ms Thobile Maphanga (UKZN CCA) and Dr Yvette Hutchison (Warwick University, England).

Loots said: ‘I am delighted, as part of the CCA/JOMBA! team, to deliver our first JOMBA! Masihambisane Dialogues which aims to promote new dance scholarship and critical dance writing. We are even more delighted that the NIHSS has come on board as a funding partner indicating the value they see in this. I am personally excited to see this new development which we hope will become an annual event!’

Keynote speakers included award-winning and prolific South African choreographers Boyzie Cekwana, Nelisiwe Xaba and PJ Sabbagha. Sessions comprised prepared papers, conversations, a workshop and performances.

A panel titled: BOXED and Its Inspirations for the Future, based on Dr Anita Ratnam’s (Chennai, India) 2020 work Boxed, created during the COVID-19 pandemic, has become a template of how an existing crisis can inspire original dance art. Panellists include Ratnam and the series consultant, Ms Chitra Sundaram.

Other highlights of the colloquium were [DE] TACH presented by Mr Lucky Karabo Moeketsi, which explored the environmental habits that became a Black society’s norm against the spectre of the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing.

Digital Dance and Domesticity: The Work of Female East African Choreographers in a Time of COVID-19, was the title of a paper presented by Mr Charlie Ely (University of Leeds in England) which examined how the new realities of the pandemic have shaped the work of female East African choreographers.

A workshop and paper titled: When I Slam my Body into a Wall, I Know that it’s There, was authored and facilitated by Ms Kristina Johnstone (University of Pretoria & WITS) who examined the facilitation of embodied practice in a virtual space of teaching, learning and creation, specifically looking at ways of encouraging touch and the importance of creating moments of synchronicity (shared time).

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Supplied


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Is Your Workplace as Safe as it Could Be?

Is Your Workplace as Safe as it Could Be?
Workplace safety under the spotlight.

According to the Occupational Health and Safety Act No 85 of 1993, employers are required to provide and maintain a working environment that is safe and free of risks to the health of their employees and all those directly affected by their business activities. Ensuring best practice is particularly important during the current COVID-19 pandemic as businesses are operating under demanding circumstances that require total health and safety compliance to help ensure the well-being of all stakeholders.

UKZN Extended Learning’s Safety, Health, and Environment (SHE) Management programme - which has been revamped to address all concerns associated with the Coronavirus - began on 24 May this year with participants from various industries undergoing skills training on how to manage health and safety issues within their occupational environments.

Organisations require health and safety practitioners and representatives to implement and manage the current mandatory safety regulations. Participants on the SHE management programme will gain the necessary knowledge and skills to assist their companies handle compliance and maintain a health and safety culture through robust management systems.

The programme content focuses on developing analytical and problem-solving skills which assist individuals to react swiftly to business challenges and changes in these turbulent times.

Issues surrounding the fundamentals of occupational health and risk management are also addressed to ensure delegates are well informed on theories, policies, and principles involved in the SHE programme for practical application in their various work environments.

The programme will assist anyone wanting to acquire an excellent foundation to equip them to handle the daily management of SHE related activities within their organisations. It is also beneficial for current SHE representatives who want to gain a better understanding of health and safety regulations regarding COVID-19.

For more information or to register for the Safety, Health and Environment programme, please click here, or contact Percy Sishi at phone: +27 031 260 1234 or email: sishis@ukzn.ac.za

Words: Nkosingiphile Ntshangase

Photograph: Supplied 


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Webinar Discusses South Africa’s COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout Strategy and the Role of Traditional Medicine Practitioners

Webinar Discusses South Africa’s COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout Strategy and the Role of Traditional Medicine Practitioners
UKZN webinar panellists (clockwise from left): Professor Mosa Moshabela, Bishop Thulani Msomi, Mr Mohamed Suleman, Professor Nceba Gqaleni and Dr Fikile Ndlovu.

Facilitator of the event and Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Professor Mosa Moshabela, highlighted the relevance of the webinar in the light of numerous vaccine sites being established around the country. Moshabela questioned the different roles of various members of society in the roll-out and invited the panellists to engage with him on the current progress of the strategy and the possibilities for the future.

The traditional medicine sector welcomes the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out but is concerned at not being fully involved in the process, according to the President of the Traditional Health Practitioners (THP) Business Council, Bishop Thulani Msomi.

Speaking during a webinar organised by UKZN’s Corporate Relations Division to examine the country’s COVID-19 vaccine roll-out strategy and the role of traditional healers in it, Msomi noted how more than 80% of the South African population seeks traditional healthcare and called for government engagement in developing proper policies and structures to empower the sector to find solutions to the pandemic and contribute to the country’s economy. 

UKZN’s Professor Nceba Gqaleni, focused on the contribution of THPs in the fight against COVID-19, focussing on the government of KwaZulu-Natal’s ‘development of an indigenous knowledge-based strategy to help mitigate COVID-19 and complement current biomedically-based efforts, which include the evaluation of local traditional medicine.’

He described the initiative as a grounded and Afrocentric approach that was centred on mental health providing a ‘pyscho-social response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the context of culture.’

Gqaleni said a partnership that existed between UKZN, the South African Medical Research Council and the Africa Health Research Institute was aimed at accelerating clinical trials on traditional medicine.

Highlighting the inequities that exist within the healthcare profession, Gqaleni urged South Africans to realise that everyone has a role to play in fighting the pandemic and to stand together against it.

Dr Fikile Ndlovu, Deputy Director-General: Provincial Strategic Management at the Office of the Premier in KwaZulu-Natal, reiterated the importance of communication and engagement during any pandemic and highlighted how these factors needed to be strengthened as the country geared up for the second phase of the vaccine roll-out.

Ndlovu highlighted how the second phase - for those 60 years and older - was currently concentrated in urban areas because of the use of the Pfizer vaccine which required storage in cold temperatures not always easily available in rural settings.

She mentioned the various vaccine registration options for those 60 years and older which include the website, WhatsApp and the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) registration - which does not require data or airtime. Ndlovu also spoke about Operation Sukuma Sakhe (OSS), a ward-based initiative that monitors vaccination sites and registrations and encouraged stakeholder participation to ensure that ‘no-one is left behind’.

Providing a student perspective, UKZN medical degree candidate Mr Mohamed Suleman said traditional medicine should be included in current health practices - if proven to be safe and effective. Suleman also examined the three key components in health practice, listing them as communication, knowledge and application.

In his closing remarks Moshabela said: ‘One of the important things that came out clearly from the webinar is that traditional health practitioners are still operating at the margins of the healthcare system. On the one hand, they are not formally recognised as health care workers and as result they were not engaged or trained on COVID-19-related matters, consequently not receiving any Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) support to help protect them from infections when they see their patients.

‘On the other hand, they were invited to receive the vaccine in the closing stages of the Sisonke study and were expected to help mobilise their patients for vaccination although they were not trained on COVID-19 vaccines. This sort of problem has been going on for a long time, and needs to be urgently addressed, so THPs can formally take their place in the healthcare system.’

Words: Hlengiwe Khwela

Photographs: Supplied


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UKZN and Oxford University Collaborate on COVID-19 Research

UKZN and Oxford University Collaborate on COVID-19 Research
Father and daughter, Dr Kantharuben Naidoo and Dr Reshania Naidoo.

UKZN academic Dr Kantharuben Naidoo of the Department of Family Medicine and Dr Reshania Naidoo of Oxford University in England conducted collaborative research on COVID-19 and the associated ‘ethico-legal deliberations intensivists face on a daily basis’.

The researchers work looked into: ‘Prioritising already-scarce intensive care unit resources in the midst of COVID-19: A call for regional triage committees in South Africa.’

They reported the following: ‘The worsening COVID-19 pandemic in South Africa poses multiple challenges for clinical decision-making in the context of already-scarce ICU resources. Data from national government and the last published national audit of ICU resources indicate gross shortages. While the Critical Care Society of Southern Africa (CCSSA) guidelines provide a comprehensive guideline for triage in the face of overwhelmed ICU resources, such decisions present massive ethical and moral dilemmas for triage teams.

‘It is therefore important for the health system to provide clinicians and critical care facilities with as much support and resources as possible in the face of impending pandemic demand. Following a discussion of the ethical considerations and potential challenges in applying the CCSSA guidelines, the authors propose a framework for regional triage committees adapted to the South African context. Beyond the national CCSSA guidelines, the clinician has many additional ethical and clinical considerations. No single ethical approach to decision-making is sufficient, instead one which considers multiple contextual factors is necessary.

‘Scores such as the Clinical Frailty Score and Sequential Organ Failure Assessment are of limited use in patients with COVID-19. Furthermore, the clinician is fully justified in withdrawing ICU care based on medical futility decisions and to reallocate this resource to a patient with a better prognosis. However, these decisions bear heavy emotional and moral burden compounded by the volume of clinical work and a fear of litigation. We propose the formation of Provincial multi-disciplinary Critical Care Triage Committees to alleviate the emotional, moral and legal burden on individual ICU teams and co-ordinate inter-facility collaboration using an adapted framework. The committee would provide an impartial, broader and ethically-sound viewpoint which has time to consider broader contextual factors such as adjusting rationing criteria according to different levels of pandemic demand and the latest clinical evidence. Their functioning will be strengthened by direct feedback to national level and accountability to a national monitoring committee. The potential applications of these committees are far-reaching and have the potential to enable a more effective COVID-19 health systems response in South Africa.’

The second stage of the researchers’ work involves field-testing the concept of the Critical Care Triage Committees across the country, including public and private hospital domains.

•    Dr Kantharuben Naidoo and Dr Reshania Naidoo are also the South African investigators for another Oxford University, Nuffield School of Medicine Research collaborative research project titled: Development and Validation of Medical Internship Experience Scale (MIES) for LMICs. It is a multinational study involving scientists from nine countries working in collaboration with the Nuffield School of Medicine.

Words: Nombuso Dlamini

Photograph: Supplied


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#WeFlyRockets!

#WeFlyRockets!
UKZN is at the forefront of research into space propulsion technologies in Africa.

The UKZN Aerospace Systems Research Group (ASReG), led by Mechanical Engineering senior lecturer Dr Jean Pitot, has released an official video of their recent Phoenix rocket flight test held in March. Click here to watch the video.

The campaign, run over several weeks at the Denel Overberg Test Range in the Western Cape, resulted in the student-driven team breaking the African hybrid rocket altitude record.

The new record-breaking mark is 17.9 km, achieved with a Phoenix-1B Mk IIr vehicle. The Mk IIr rocket has state-of-the-art components, including a carbon fibre propellant tank and silica-phenolic/graphite nozzle.

A second rocket, the Mk I, was also launched during the campaign and reached an altitude of 11.1 km, also breaking the previous African record of around 10 km.

ASReG’s 2021 flight test campaign was highly successful, validating the design and modelling work carried out by postgraduate students and providing over 20 UKZN students and staff with invaluable experience in a world-class flight test environment.

The official campaign video, produced by Mr Donald Fitzgerald - a graduate and former student of ASReG’s space propulsion research programme - incorporates footage from multiple cameras strategically positioned during the flight tests of both rockets, including aerial footage supplied by drone pilot Richard Matchett. The Denel Overberg Test Range also provided high-speed camera footage on the launch pad and imagery from their state-of-the-art cinetheodolite tracking cameras, which followed both rockets throughout their sub-orbital flights.

Both hybrid rockets carried telemetry systems developed by ASReG’s industrial partner, DIY Electronics, and these were able to capture a high-altitude video that was beamed back to receivers on the ground.

The 11-minute-long film captured the excitement of the launches themselves and some of the unseen background work that goes into a rocket campaign.

ASReG’s research is focused on space propulsion technologies but in addition to the Phoenix rocket work, the group is also pursuing the development of an indigenous satellite launch capability. The programme is funded mainly by the Department of Science and Innovation, with industry support provided by local companies including Rheinmetall Denel Munition, DIY Electronics, Petrawell, AC Industries, Swagelok and Hulamin.

For further information on UKZN’s aerospace research visit: http://aerospace.ukzn.ac.za

Words: Michael Brooks

Photograph: Supplied


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Launch of Conversations in Health Sciences Video Series

Launch of Conversations in Health Sciences Video Series
Dr Diane van Staden.

School of Health Sciences’ Academic Leader for Teaching and Learning Dr Diane van Staden has launched a series of one-hour videos titled: Conversations in Health Sciences.

The first video was recorded at the UTEL studios on the Westville campus under the theme: Transformation in South Africa’s Higher Education Sector which explored the following sub-topics: Why the Transformation Agenda is Imperative; Different Aspects of Transformation; Transformation in Health Professions Education, and Challenges and Opportunities within the Transformation Agenda.

Participants included academics from the Physiotherapy, Optometry and Audiology Disciplines.

Chaired by van Staden, the panel comprised Professor Saul Cobbing (Academic Leader: Physiotherapy), Dr Alvin Munsamy (lecturer: Optometry), Dr Stacy Maddocks (lecturer: Physiotherapy) and Mrs Zandile Shezi (lecturer: Audiology).

Monthly recorded discussions featuring academics from various disciplines are planned, with upcoming topics including: Training of Health Professionals for the 21st century, Interprofessional Education in Health Sciences, and Preparedness for Practice.

The recorded sessions will be available for viewing on the School of Health Sciences’ website. To watch the video on YouTube click here.

Words: Nombuso Dlamini

Photograph: Supplied


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