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18 April 2019 | Story Rulanzen Martin

The Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice IRSJ) has initiated a Social Justice Week at the University of the Free State (UFS), which started on Friday 12 April  until Wednesday 17 April 2019. 

Ten key events took place during the week. It ranged from dialogues, workshops, talk shows, debates, and interactive displays and events on issues of multilingualism and diversity, social innovation, engaged scholarship, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, gender sensitisation, sexual consent, sexual preparedness, universal access, disability, anti-discrimination, and security.

There was also a round-table discussion on 17 April 2019 with various UFS stakeholders on off-campus student security as well as an inter-institutional discussion on the same topic. The UFS Debating Society will take on the topic of the UFS Language Policy, while Olga Barends from the Free State Centre for Human Rights will host a dialogue on sexual consent.

The IRSJ has also designed and implemented SOJO-VATION: Social Innovation/ Social Change, which strives to create a foundational platform where ideas of social justice, innovation, and engaged scholarship at the UFS and in society can be hosted. SOJO-VATION partners with the Office for Student Leadership, Development, and Community Engagement.

The collaborating partners for the Social Justice Week includes various UFS stakeholders such as the Sasol library, the Gender and Sexual Equity Office, UFS Protection Services, the Free State Centre for Human Rights, the Student Representative Council (SRC), the Office for Student Leadership Development, Kovsie Innovation, GALA, the FFree State Centre for Human Rights, SRC Associations, the Office for Student Governance, Kovsie Innovate, Start-Up-Grind, EVC, EBL, Community Engagement, the Institutional Transformation Plan (ITP) Dialogues Office, Residence Dialogues, UFS Debating Society, Debate Afrika!, the Center for Universal Access and Disability Support (CUADS), and the Gateway Office. 

News Archive

Fighting the tuberculosis battle as a collective
2015-09-28



The team hard at work making South Africa a
healthier place

Tuberculosis (TB) is second only to HIV/AIDS as the greatest killer worldwide due to a single infectious agent. More than 95% of TB deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries. Despite being more prevalent among men than women, TB remains one of the top five causes of death amongst women between the ages of 15 and 44 years. While everyone is at risk for contracting TB, those most at risk include children under the age of five and the elderly. In addition, research indicates that individuals with compromised immune systems, household contacts with pulmonary TB patients, and healthcare workers are also at increased risk for contracting TB.

According to the Deputy Director of the Centre for Health Systems Research and Development (CHSR&D) at the UFS, Dr Michelle Engelbrecht, research has found that healthcare workers may be three times more likely to be infected by TB than the general population.

The unsettling fact

“Research done in health facilities in South Africa has found that nurses do not often participate in basic prevention acts, such as opening windows and wearing respirators when attending to infectious TB patients,” she explained. 

In response to this concern, CHSR&D, which operates within the Faculty of Humanities at the the University of the Free State (UFS) Bloemfontein Campus has developed a research project to investigate TB prevention and infection control in primary healthcare facilities and households in Mangaung Metropolitan.

Action to counter the statistics

A team of four researchers and eight field workers from CHSR&D are in the process of gathering baseline data from the 41 primary healthcare facilities in Mangaung. The baseline comprises a facility assessment conducted with the TB nurse, and observations at each of the facilities. Individual interviews are also conducted with community caregivers, as well as TB and general patients. Self-administered questionnaires on knowledge, attitudes, and practices about TB infection control are completed by all nurses and facility-based community caregivers.

Healthcare workers are the main focus of this research, given their increased risk of acquiring TB in healthcare settings. At clinics, interventions will be developed to improve infection control practices by both healthcare workers and patients. TB patients’ households are also visited to screen household contacts for TB. Those found to have symptoms suggesting TB infection are referred to the clinics for further assessment and treatment.

The findings of this study will serve to inform the development of an intervention to address TB prevention and infection control in primary healthcare facilities. Further funding will be sought to implement and evaluate the intervention.

Curbing future infections and subsequent deaths as a result of TB is the priority for the UFS. The cooperation and collaboration of the community, government, and sponsors will ensure that this project is a success, hence prolonging life expectancy.


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