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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

School of Nursing receives a considerable grant
2011-06-01

Our School of Nursing once again became the proud recipient of a grant from the Atlantic Philanthropies, an international organization dedicated to “bringing about lasting changes in the lives of disadvantaged and vulnerable people”.

Atlantic Philanthropies granted millions of rands to South African nursing training institutions via University Based Nursing Education (UNEDSA), which will provide six recipient institutions the opportunity to transform nursing academic programmes in South Africa over a period of four years.

We recently received a R3 100 000 grant for the school to transform nursing scholarship and clinical practice. This is but the latest installment in a total grant of R16 million.

The School of Nursing, under the leadership of Prof. Anita van der Merwe, former Head of the School of Nursing, submitted a proposal to UNEDSA and was selected as one of the six recipients of the award. The school is now at the beginning of the third financial year of the project.

According to Dr Annali Fichardt from the School of Nursing, the school established a unique Virtual Health Teaching and Learning facility for training students in a non-threatening, simulated environment and to prepare nurses to be capable and to function optimally in the dynamic health-care environment. This provides opportunities for experimentation and sharing of integrated teaching and learning in nursing education.

The project helped establish a new unit for continuing professional development and research capacity development to serve practicing nurses and staff members of the School of Nursing. These initiatives will result in a fully transformed and accredited portfolio of programmes at undergraduate, post-basic and postgraduate levels to meet the needs of a range of health-care settings and learners.

The School of Nursing hopes to create an innovative teaching and learning environment that empowers students and professional nurses to become clinically excellent, able to practice independently in both resource-poor and technology-rich areas, and manage such complexities in an innovative way.

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