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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

Haemophilia home infusion workshop
2017-12-17


 Description: haemophilia Tags: Haemophilia, community, patient, clinical skills, training 

Parents receive training for homecare of their children with haemophilia.
Photo Supplied


Caregivers for haemophilia patients, and patients themselves from around the Free State and Northern Cape attended a home infusion workshop held by the Clinical Skills unit in the Faculty of Health Sciences in July 2017. “It felt liberating and I feel confident to give the factor to my son correctly,” said Amanda Chaba-Okeke, the mother of a young patient, at the workshop. Her son, also at the workshop, agreed. “It felt lovely and good to learn how to administer factor VIII.” 

Clinical skills to empower parents and communities

There were two concurrent sessions: one attended by doctors from the Haemophilia Treatment Centre, and the other attended by community members including factor VIII and XI recipients, caregivers and parents. The doctors’ meeting was shown informative videos and demonstrations on how to administer the newly devised factor VII and XI kit, and discussed the pressing need for trained nurses at local clinics. Dr Jaco Joubert, a haematologist, made an educational presentation to the community members.

The South African Haemophilia Foundation was represented by Mahlomola Sewolane, who gave a brief talk about the role of the organisation in relation to the condition. Meanwhile, procedural training in the simulation laboratory involved doctors and nurses helping participants to learn the procedures by using mannequins and even some volunteers from among the patients.

A medical condition causing serious complications
Haemophilia is a medical condition in which the ability of the blood to clot is severely impaired, even from a slight injury. The condition is typically caused by a hereditary lack of a coagulation factor, most often factor VIII. Usually patients must go through replacement therapy in which concentrates of clotting factor VIII (for haemophilia A) or clotting factor IX (for haemophilia B) are slowly dripped or injected into the vein, to help replace the clotting factor that is missing or low. Patients have to receive this treatment in hospital.

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