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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

Counterfeit HIV / AIDS drugs must be dealt with
2006-02-16

Some of the guests attending the lecture were from the left Prof Johan Henning (Dean:  UFS Faculty of Law), Dr Jayasuriya, Prof Voet du Plessis (Head: UFS Department of Mercantile Law) and Dr Ezekiel Moraka (Vice-Rector:  Student Affairs at the UFS).
Photo: Stephen Collett

Counterfeit HIV / AIDS drugs must be dealt with

An international legal expert who has worked with various UN agencies has called on governments to deal quickly and decisively with people dealing in counterfeit HIV / AIDS drugs.

The Vice-President of the Global Jurists Foundation and former head of the UNAIDS secretariat in Pakistan, Dr Dayanath Jayasuriya, was speaking at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein.

Delivering a guest lecture on HIV/ AIDS and human rights in developing countries, Dr Jayasuriya said counterfeit drugs were spreading at an alarming rate throughout the world.  He said that in particular counterfeit HIV / AIDS drugs contribute to the vulnerability of persons living with HIV / AIDS.

“Only a few countries have integrated anti-counterfeit drug provisions into national legislation on medicinal drugs” he said.
According to Dr Jayasuriya, the violation of the rights of people living with HIV / AIDS is continuing despite the fact that many governments have adopted various charters and declarations that are meant to guarantee the human rights of citizens.

He said these violations have included the brutal murder of persons with HIV / AIDS.

Other violations include verbal abuse and physical injuries through acts of torture; deprivation or denial of access to employment; medical facilities, including drugs; accommodation; food; social service benefits; insurance; custody of children, and so on.

“In recorded human history HIV / AIDS is by no means the first ever major public health epidemic to confront human kind. However, none of the other epidemics generated the same degree and intensity of human rights concerns,” Dr Jayasuriya said.

 

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