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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

Dr Khotso Mokhele joins ranks of distinguished Chancellors
2010-11-21

Attending the inauguration ceremony are, from the left: Mr Pule Makgoe, MEC for Education in the Free State and member of the UFS Council; Judge Ian van der Merwe, Chairperson of the UFS Council; Dr Khotso Mokhele, newly inaugurated Chancellor of the UFS; and Prof. Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the UFS.
Photo: Dries Myburgh

Dr Khotso Mokhele joined the ranks of distinguished Chancellors of the University of the Free State (UFS) with his inauguration as the new Chancellor of the institution at a ceremony on Friday, 19 November 2010.

The lustrous ceremony took place on the Main Campus in Bloemfontein and was attended by hundreds of guests from all over South Africa.

Dr Mokhele said in his speech: “I am excited to have been invited by the UFS to join its community at the time when it is attempting to reinvent itself into an institution that will be counted amongst those that will shape the local, regional, national will, and by so doing, contribute to the shaping of an African will.”

Dr Mokhele follows in the footsteps of Dr Franklin Sonn, former Ambassador of South Africa in the United States of America and receiver of many awards, acknowledgements, and honorary doctorates, who retired earlier this year. Dr Sonn was preceded by Ms Winkie Direko, former premier of the Free State.

His acceptance of the role of Chancellor is a great honour for the UFS.

According to Prof. Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the UFS, it is a proud moment to welcome someone from the Province as the Chancellor of this university. With his strong academic values and deep sense of human compassion, Dr Mokhele is one of but a few uncompromising leaders. He is also an inspiring, determined pioneer and a role model to all our students.

Few have done as much to guide the development of science in South Africa since democracy in 1994 as Dr Mokhele. His vision and actions as a senior science manager have been guided by his deep conviction that for a truly democratic society to emerge in South Africa all people must be empowered to be its architects and must have unhindered access to those careers upon which our economy is built.

Dr Khotso Mokhele was born and raised in Bloemfontein. After matriculating from the Moroka High School he went on to study at Fort Hare, where he graduated with a B.Sc. in Agriculture, winning the Massey-Ferguson award for the best student in that field. As a recipient of the prestigious Fulbright-Hays Scholarship, he entered the University of California in Davis where he took a M.Sc. and a Ph.D. degree, both in Microbiology. He was awarded post-doctoral fellowships at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, and at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

Dr Mokhele returned to South Africa in 1987, set on becoming a top-class academic and researcher. He held lecturing posts at the Universities of Fort Hare (1987-1989) and Cape Town (1990-1992). In 1992 he joined the Foundation for Research Development (FRD) as one of its Vice-Presidents. He succeeded to its presidency in 1996 and then from 1999 to 2006 became the first President of the National Research Foundation (NRF).  He successfully merged the FRD and the Centre for Science Development of the Human Sciences Research Council. Under his visionary leadership the NRF has come to play a pivotal role in the development agenda of the country. He was also instrumental in the establishment of the South African Academy of Sciences serving as its founder president (1996-1998).

Dr Khotso Mokhele's contribution to science in South Africa has received wide recognition locally and abroad. He has received nine honorary doctorates. He was made a Chevalier of the Legion of Honour by the President of France in recognition of his personal efforts in strengthening scientific ties between France and South Africa, and was appointed a director of the Salzburg Seminar, an institution focused on global change, and subsequently a member of its Council of Senior Fellows.

He also serves on the boards of major companies such as Implats, Adcock Ingram and Afrox.

Media Release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Director: Strategic Communication (actg)
Tel: 051 401 2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl@ufs.ac.za19 November 2010
 

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