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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

Medical practitioners join forces to help students studying medicine with loans
2010-02-24

Medical practitioners from the University of the Free State’s Faculty of Health Sciences have established a loan fund for enrolled students studying medicine to assist them with their studies. This loan fund has paid out a total amount of R329 106,00 over the past three years.

During 2002 the faculty’s School of Medicine identified a gap in the awarding of bursaries to enrolled students studying medicine at the UFS.

Many students who follow the course M.B.Ch.B struggle to obtain bursaries and are often forced to cease their studies due to a lack of funds.

A group of medical practitioners addressed this gap by providing funds in the form of voluntary out-of-pocket contributions towards a study loan fund to deserving students. This fund has received over R1million in contributions over the years.

Although the loans do not cover the full costs of a particular student, it brings the necessary financial relief and enables the student to focus on his/her studies and at least register. It also gives the student the time at the beginning of the year to attain more money to study.

The loan is repayable as soon as the student is employed. Repayment is calculated on the income of the individual and is administrated by an outside organisation at a minimal interest rate that only kicks in when the loan becomes repayable.

The School of Medicine encourages students who qualify for this loan to seek alternative funding. In this way, more students can be supported annually.

Currently an average of eight to twelve students per year are helped from this loan fund.

Media Release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Director: Strategic Communication (actg)
Tel: 051 401 2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl@ufs.ac.za  
24 February 2010

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