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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

Rare tumour removed in groundbreaking surgery
2011-08-06

 

Mr Carel Botes and Prof. Francis Smit with a model of the human heart
Photo: Earl Coetzee

A team of surgeons, headed by Prof Francis Smit, Head of our Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery at our Faculty of Health Sciences, performed open heart surgery on a male patient with a malignant tumour.

What makes this operation unique, is that the suspicious mass that was identified in the heart was a rapidly growing and a highly invasive cardiac tumour, which has only been seen in a small number of patients worldwide.

Without the necessary surgery or heart transplant, the prognosis of the patient would have been zero.

The patient, Mr Carl Botes, a 51-year-old farmer from Hoopstad, opted for the tumour to be removed rather than having a heart transplant.  Although both options would involve major risks and challenges, the transplant was the least feasible due to logistics, the waiting list for recipients and the lack of donors.

In the, highly complex, 10-hour operation, performed in the Universitas Academic Hospital in Bloemfontein, the entire right heart chamber had to be removed and the heart reconstructed.

After prolonged hospitalisation of five weeks, Mr Botes was discharged.

Currently he is fully functional and continuing with his active lifestyle.  After three months, all investigations and scans indicate that he is doing very well and has no complaints of fatigue, shortness of breath and palpitations – symptoms which occurred before the removal of the tumour.

For further information contact:
Prof Francis Smit
051-4053861
smitfe@ufs.ac.za
 

Media Release
6 August 2011
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Director: Strategic Communication
Tel: 051 401 2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: news@ufs.ac.za

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