PhD Candidate Scoops Best Oral Presentation Award at World Congress of Audiology
Alumnus and PhD candidate in the Department of Family Medicine, Mr Mukovhe Phanguphangu won an award for the Best Oral Presentation at the 35th World Congress of Audiology held in Warsaw, Poland in April.
He presented three research papers in the form oral presentations, two of which were from his master’s dissertation which he completed at UKZN.
‘Based on my presentations and the social impact of my research, I won the Best Oral Presentation,’ he said.
The award is one of the highest honours in the field of hearing health as this biennial research convention brings together global leaders in the field from 150 countries. There were around 150 oral presentations at this year’s congress. Adjudicators judged the presentations in terms of clarity of speech, language use and engagement with the audience, the content and the social impact and scientific responsiveness of the research within the field of audiology and paediatrics.
‘My first presentation from my master’s study which explored the feasibility of using smartphone apps to detect early hearing loss, was chosen as the best presentation,’ added Phanguphangu. The study found that children aged five to 12 living with HIV were able to reliably self-administer hearing screening tests, enabling early detection of ear diseases and intervention before their negative impacts develop.
Phanguphangu’s second presentation was based on his individual research that explored Speech and Hearing Therapy students’ experiences of online teaching and learning during COVID-19 lockdowns. The findings showed that while students were issued with data packages and ICT devices, most lived in rural areas and struggled with poor connectivity and unconducive conditions for studying.
The third presentation was also from Phanguphangu’s master’s dissertation, and focused on methods to estimate the prevalence of ear disease and hearing loss in children living with HIV. The study found that 38% of children living with HIV had hearing loss while 49% had some form of ear disease, highlighting the need for routine ear and hearing monitoring of these vulnerable children to enable timeous detection and intervention.
Phanguphangu is currently working on a doctoral project in Family Medicine under the supervision of Professor Andrew J Ross in the School of Nursing and Public Health. His study is exploring the feasibility of decentralising paediatric hearing healthcare to primary healthcare centres, which are the first point of healthcare for more than 80% of South African children.
Phanguphangu was born in Mukula, outside Thohoyandou, Limpopo and completed his undergraduate training at the then Medical University of Southern Africa (MEDUNSA) in 2012. After qualifying, he worked at various state hospitals in Limpopo and Gauteng Provinces. He graduated with his master’s degree summa cum laude at UKZN in 2021. Phanguphangu is a Golden Key Member and was selected as one of the 100 Young Mandelas of the Future in 2018 and one of the Mail & Guardian’s 200 Young Influential South Africans in 2019 for valuable contributions to paediatric healthcare and visionary leadership in healthcare in South Africa.
He is a founding member of the newly formed Africa-Asia Coalition project which aims to map best practices in hearing health in Africa and Asia. The project includes researchers from South Africa, India, Brazil and Nigeria. Phanguphangu believes that it will foster international collaboration to improve access to hearing healthcare.
Words: Nombuso Dlamini