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04 June 2019 | Story Valentino Ndaba | Photo Charl Devenish
Prof Cathryn Tonne
Air pollution not only costs lives, it costs money too. Pictured is Prof Cathryn Tonne presenting a guest lecture on air pollution at the Bloemfontein Campus.

Health effects associated with ambient air pollution (AAP) have been well documented. Subsequently, the relationship between pollution and financial outcomes have also become a focus for case studies globally. An Environmental Research journal article revealed that “low and middle-income countries are disproportionately affected by the global burden of adverse health effects caused by AAP”. 

A high price to pay

In 2012, high concentrations of air pollution caused 7.4% of all deaths, costing South Africa up to 6% of its Gross Domestic Product. According to the recent International Growth Centre study conducted by senior University of Cape Town researchers, this is a direct consequence of the country’s heavy dependence of fossil fuels, a source of health-damaging air pollution and greenhouse pollutants.

Stunted human and economic growth

These South African statistics are attested to by Prof Cathryn Tonne who recently presented a guest lecture on air pollution which was hosted by the University of the Free State (UFS) Business School.

“Air pollution can affect economic development through several pathways, and health is an important one. Air pollution is linked to shorter life expectancy, chronic disease, asthma exacerbation and many other health outcomes that result in absenteeism from work and school. These have large direct costs to the health system.” 

Prof Tonne says that air pollution exposure in children is linked to reduced cognitive development, with important impacts on human capital. As a result, children are not reaching their full potential in terms of neurodevelopment, which has an effect on their income prospects and the economy as a whole. 

Resolving a looming disaster

Technology may be employed to radically clean the air. Cities need to lead in the reduction of air pollution by promoting renewable energy, using active transport such as walking or cycling, and investing in infrastructure to make this safe and attractive. 

With researchers playing a major role in strengthening the case for aggressive air pollution control, the government needs to implement policies in order to control sources of air pollution. This global health and economic issue also requires individuals and communities to play their part to improve air quality.

News Archive

Rolene Strauss: a beauty with a passion
2017-12-08


 Description: Rolene Read more Tags: Rolene Strauss, Miss World, Faculty of Health Sciences, MB ChB 

Rolene Strauss and Prof Gert van Zyl, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, after
receiving her MB CHB degree during the Summer Graduation on the
Bloemfontein Campus of the University of the Free State
on 7 December.
Photo: Charl Devenish

Spotlight photo: Johan Roux

It was definitely a moment to remember when former Miss World 2014, Rolene Strauss, was among the 107 students in the Faculty of Health Sciences walking across the stage in the Callie Human Center on 7 December 2017. 

Rolene, now Dr Rolene Strauss, received her MB ChB degree during the Summer Graduations at the University of the Free State (UFS). She also recited the Vow of the Graduands in Medicine during the ceremony. She resumed her studies at the UFS in 2016 after putting it on hold in 2014 when she was crowned as Miss World.  

Passion for health and education
“My love for health and medicine is what got me back to studying. There were so many opportunities to be explored after my year as Miss World, but I wouldn’t have been ‘Rolene’ if I didn’t finish my medical studies. I have absolutely no regrets,” Rolene said in a statement.
 
“I’m a test-tube baby and I believe my passion for health was born with me,” Rolene said. This is what fostered her deep set passion for health, women, and education.

Together with her sister-in-law, Dr Ledivia Strauss, she will be launching a holistic women’s health practice in Paarl next year. Rolene will not be commencing her medical internship in 2018, as she plans on doing more public speaking engagements, finishing her book, and focusing on the medical practice. 

Photo gallery:  

7 December Morning session

Video:

7 December Morning session

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