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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

UFS School of Nursing opens new frontiers at 40
2009-11-16

The opening of the virtual facility of the School of Nursing at the University of the Free State (UFS) and a gala dinner to celebrate the School’s 40th year of existence took place on the Main Campus in Bloemfontein this week. At the opening were, among others, from the left: Prof. Jonathan Jansen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS; Dr Oluseyi Oyedele and Ms Viona Munjeri, both from The Atlantic Philanthropies; and Prof. Anita van der Merwe, Head of the School of Nursing at the UFS.
Photo: Leatitia Pienaar

All eyes in the nursing profession in South Africa were turned to the University of the Free State (UFS) when the School of Nursing opened a state-of-the-art virtual health training and learning facility and celebrated its 40th year of existence with a gala dinner on the Main Campus in Bloemfontein this week.

The lustrous events were attended by dignitaries from all spheres of the health-care fraternity in South Africa.

The new virtual facility, The Space, is made possible by a grant of R16 million from The Atlantic Philanthropies and R1 million from the UFS. The Atlantic Philanthropies organisation is an international philanthropic organisation that is going to inject R70 million into nursing in South African over the next four years. The initiative will enhance nursing education and step up the quality of health-care delivery in South Africa. Four major grants were made to universities in South Africa, of which the UFS is one.

With the facility at the UFS School of Nursing, nursing education is propelled into the future. Prof. Anita van der Merwe, Head of the School of Nursing, says, “The virtual learning facility is a very new way of thinking and teaching. At the moment, theory and practice are separated, as theory is often taught in the mornings, followed by practical settings later in the day. Learner nurses then also go to clinical facilities for their practicals where the quality of care is declining and human resources are a problem.

“We believe that with new technologies such as e-learning and high-tech computer-mediated equipment we can use the ‘virtual world’ to bridge the theory-practice gap in the same location.”

Prof. Van der Merwe says the project is essentially about transformation: taking a stand against stagnation in nursing education and practice and daring to be different.

In the new virtual facility nurses will have the best of three worlds – the expertise of the facilitator/educator, simulation technology, and a vast selection of on-line and off-line software, exposing them to blogs, broadcasting and enhancing computer literacy. This will attract both the new “millennial” generation, which tends to be technologically competent, as well as the older learner because of the unthreatening learning environment.

The core space will accommodate 40 to 60 students and is designed to encourage informal, collaborative learning and practice simultaneously. It will have a demarcated area for “patients” (such as advanced adult and baby patient simulators) and a “clinic space” allowing for role play.

At the gala dinner, Prof. Jonathan Jansen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS commended nurses in South Africa for their caring role, but also expressed his concern that South African has lost its deep sense of care. South Africa is at a critical point and the country can be changed if a deep sense of care can be embedded again.

About forty nursing educators from all over South Africa attended an exploratory workshop in the facility today and the last meeting of the Forum of University Deans in South Africa (FUNDISA) also coincided with the festivities at the School of Nursing.

Media Release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl.stg@ufs.ac.za
13 November 2009
 

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