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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

Women must fight for equal opportunities - Motshekga
2010-08-06

 
Photo: Stephen Collett

“We will not know peace and prosperity unless all women are free. We must open opportunities for women and make sure that we achieve the necessary progress. I believe this would be the best way to honour the life of Charlotte Maxeke.”

This rallying call for action was made by the Minister of Basic Education, Ms Angie Motshekga (pictured), in her speech to commemorate the life of Charlotte Maxeke, a woman she described as “a heroine” to all South Africans.

The University of the Free State (UFS), in conjunction with the Free State Premier’s office, presented the annual Charlotte Maxeke Memorial Lecture at the Main Campus in Bloemfontein to once again honour this remarkable African woman as part of celebrating Women’s Month.

“We must ensure that we act consciously to extend equal opportunities, freedom and justice to all women,” she said. “We must put all our energies together in this task of uplifting women and children.”

She said that even though women had made considerable strides since the advent of democracy in South Africa, especially in government, much still had to be done to ensure equal opportunities for all women.

“There’s a 40% women representation in government, but the question we should ask ourselves is: What value does this representation bring to the life of an ordinary woman? What impact does it have on her life?” she asked.

She said women were still less represented in managerial positions. “Sexism requires the same amount of energy that we use to fight against racism,” she said.

She also announced that the government had decided to declare the graves of Charlotte Maxeke, Lillian Ngoyi and Helen Joseph as national heritage sites.

The well-attended lecture was entitled: United in action to make 2010-2020 a decade for women in Africa.

Among those present were members of the ANC Women’s League, who came in buses and mini-buses; Dr Allan Boesak and his wife; past and present Free State MECs; and the Vice-Rector of External Relations at the UFS, Prof. Ezekiel Moraka.

Media Release:
Mangaliso Radebe
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2828
Cell: 078 460 3320
E-mail: radebemt@ufs.ac.za 
6 August 2010

 

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