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29 January 2019 | Story Xolisa Mnukwa | Photo Anja Aucamp
Prof Francis Petersen speech
“We can create an institution that operates and lives in the times of embracing and celebrating diversity, inclusivity, and academic excellence by ensuring that students own their time at university,” said Prof Francis Petersen.

25 January 2019 marked the official welcoming of the University of the Free State’s (UFS) first-year students, as they moved into their respective residences and were warmly welcomed on the UFS Bloemfontein Campus. This day also marked the start of the registration process for first-year students.

According to first-year Psychology student Keisha Claasen, who moved into her residence earlier on 25 January, her first experience of the UFS was daunting but exciting, as she had never been in a similar environment. According to Given Gwerera, who dropped his son off at the Karee residence earlier the day, “the UFS is an institution with great culture and an overall good academic record.” He further explained that he trusts his son to make full use of the opportunities presented to him, as he has a cool head on his shoulders.

On the evening of 25 January, an eager group of millennials, joined by their parents, took the first sip from their cup of varsity life as they assembled on the Red Square of the Bloemfontein Campus to meet the Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Francis Petersen, members of Rectorate, the deans of all faculties, and the Student Representative Council (SRC) of the UFS.

“2019 will be a year of continued change; the UFS is thrilled about the prospect of bringing about opportunities for adaptation and realignment to the future,” said Prof Francis Petersen.

He further explained that the university prides itself in moulding its students into well-rounded individuals who will develop into globally competitive graduates as required in a diversity of landscapes. Prof Petersen urged first-years to remain open to the technological developments that go with globalisation, because of its permanent effects on society today.

First-years were further advised to take advantage of the rich pool of academic research and knowledge that is characteristic of the university and is piloted by UFS scholars, by engaging with and learning from them.

The inspiring night concluded on a colourful note, as the audience enjoyed an artistic laser show in front of the Main Building. Caption:

“UFS academics conduct research that forces the world to take note,” said Prof Francis Petersen at the official first-year welcoming ceremony on the UFS Bloemfontein Campus.

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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