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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

HEDSA discusses better services for students with disabilities
2010-09-30

At the gala dinner were, from the left: Anlia Pretorius, Chairperson of HEDSA and Head of the Disability Unit at the University of the Witwatersrand; Dr Blade Nzimande, Minister of Higher Education and Training; Ms Hetsie Veitch, Head of the Unit for Students with Disabilities at the UFS; and Prof. Niel Viljoen, Vice-Rector: Operations at the UFS.
Photo: Leonie Bolleurs

The first ever General Meeting of the Higher Education Disability Services Association (HEDSA) was held on the Main Campus of the University of the Free State (UFS) in Bloemfontein this week. HEDSA is a newly constituted body that represents the Disability Units from the various universities across the country.

The UFS is a member of HEDSA, which aims to work together to promote equal opportunities for students with disabilities in terms of access, participation and success in Higher Education.

The General Meeting forms part of the launching symposium with the theme: New Beginnings and New Directions. The symposium, attended by 15 higher education institutions in South Africa, served as a platform to explore innovative approaches to assist in improving services for students with disabilities.

Dr Blade Nzimande, Minister of Higher Education and Training, was one of the speakers at the gala dinner of this prestigious event. He said that there is still a lot of work to do to overcome discrimination against students as well as staff members with disabilities at higher education institutions. Minister Nzimande quoted from the Soudien report, a government-commissioned report that brought to light discrimination – especially racism and sexism – still endemic at South African universities. “Victims, in this instance referring to students and staff with disabilities, are denied the opportunity – either through a lack of access to opportunities or due to outright discrimination – to realise their full potential. In the process, the country is robbed of valuable but untapped human resources. Higher education institutions cause incalculable damage to South African society by failing to deal boldly with these issues. Where institutions have indeed taken action, the benefits to individuals, to the different social groups in the country, as well as to the institutions themselves, have been major.”

He stated that he believed that HEDSA as well as the symposium could play a vital role that would assist in this process.

Ms Hetsie Veitch, Head of the Unit for Students with Disabilities at the UFS, was elected as treasurer of this body for the following two years. Johnny Mokoka will represent the UFS in HEDSA’s National Student Organisation for Students with Disabilities that was established during the symposium this week.

Media Release
Issued by: Leonie Bolleurs
Strategic Communication
Tel: 051 401 2707
Sel: 0836455853
Email: bolleursl@ufs.ac.za  
30 September 2010

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