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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

Head of SA Witness Protection Programme pays UFS a visit
2010-05-04

 
Receiving the Head of the South African Witness Protection Programme are, in front: Prof. Hennie Oosthuizen, Head of the Department of Criminal and Medical Law at the UFS; back: Adv. Beatri Kruger from the UFS Unit for Children’s Rights, Ms Lani Opperman, Member of the Free State Human Trafficking Forum (FHF), Adv. John Welch, Head of the Witness Protection Programme in South Africa; and Lene van Zyl, a LLM student at the UFS who is doing her thesis on human trafficking in body parts.
Photo: Leonie Bolleurs


Recently Adv. Beatri Kruger from the Unit for Children’s Rights in the Faculty of Law at the University of the Free State (UFS) invited Adv. John Welch, Head of the Witness Protection Programme in South Africa, to address the Free State Human Trafficking Forum (FHF) on the safe-keeping of victims who are witnesses against human traffickers.

Human trafficking is prevalent in the Free State, especially in Bloemfontein. The Unit for Children’s Rights is one of the founding members of the FHF that was established to take action against and fight the disturbing reality of human trafficking more efficiently.

According to Adv. Kruger the FHF identified the problem of trafficked witnesses being threatened by human trafficker syndicates.

Adv. Welch made some suggestions with regard to the safe-keeping of trafficked victims. He also, with some of the forum members, paid a visit to the areas in Bloemfontein where human trafficking is prevalent as well as to the local shelter for trafficked victims.

Adv. Welch undertook to join forces with the FHF in assisting trafficked victims and the local Witness Protection Programme Office is now a member of the forum.

Since December 2009 members of the FHF managed to disrupt the work of the human trafficking syndicates. “The traffickers have not stopped this inhumane practice but there are indications that they have moved to other buildings in the inner city and even to houses in the suburbs. It was reported to the forum that approximately 27 males suspected of being involved in human trafficking had been arrested, and since they are illegal in the country, they were deported to their countries of origin,” said Adv. Kruger.

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