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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 honours Dr Ben Ngubane
2010-05-19

 
 Prof. Teuns Verschoor, acting Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS, and Dr Ben Ngubane.
Photo: Stephen Collett


The University of the Free State (UFS) yesterday conferred an honorary doctorate on Dr Ben Ngubane, Chairperson of the SABC Board, during its autumn graduation ceremony held on the South Campus in Bloemfontein.

Dr Ngubane received the degree Philosophiae Doctor (Honoris Causa) for his immense contribution towards positioning South Africa as a major and an influential player in the development of arts, culture, science and technology internationally.

“I want to thank the UFS for this honour bestowed on me and accept this honorary doctorate in all humility and with great gratitude. I am comfortable to regard myself inextricably part of this university and its mission and will always be a worthy ambassador for this institution and what it represents. I am a proud Kovsie!” said Dr Ngubane after receiving the honorary doctorate.

“The world is changing at a rapid pace. Universities not only respond to such changes, they have become critical engines in the reshaping of that world through knowledge production and research innovation. Sitting at the tip of the African continent, and in the centre of South Africa, it is crucial to the ambitions and agendas of the UFS to be constantly aware of how the world of knowledge, innovation and scholarship is changing with respect to higher education, and how the UFS can best contribute to and benefit from such changes,” he said.

“A university worthy of its name thrives on the universality of ideas and people that come with the cross-currents of international scholars and students on its campus. The International Institute for Studies in Race, Reconciliation and Social Justice, to be launched shortly at the UFS has the potential to become a leading centre of scholarship acknowledged globally.”

Dr Ngubane said that the UFS is now well positioned and has the right strategies in place to become truly internationally recognised, with a proven ability to deal successfully with diversity, embedding in its students a humaneness and respect for the dignity of others, as well as an institution with an increasing through-put rate and with research outputs displaying excellence at international level.

Dr Ngubane was the first Minister of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology in the new, democratic South Africa appointed by the former President, Nelson Mandela, in 1994. He was re-appointed to lead this ministry again by former President Thabo Mbeki in 1999.

As Premier of KwaZulu-Natal from 1996 to 1999, Dr Ngubane is credited for his role in bringing about peace and reducing the political violence that ravaged the province at that time. In 2004 he was appointed as Ambassador to Japan where he initiated, among other projects, the South Africa-Japan University Forum (SAJU).

He holds Honorary Doctorates from the universities of Natal, Zululand, the Medical University of South Africa (Medunsa) and the Tshwane University of Technology.

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

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