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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

Splendid Summer Graduation concludes 2014 ceremonies
2014-12-11

  • Photo Gallery Afternoon session;  Morning session
  • YouTube

On Thursday 11 December 2014, the university awarded a total of 392 qualifications during our Summer Graduation Ceremony in the Callie Human Centre on the Bloemfontein Campus. Of these, 225 were awarded to graduates from the Faculty of Health Sciences, while 134 master’s degrees and 33 PhDs were awarded in the other six faculties. Another 74 diplomas and 56 certificates were also awarded in the School for Open Learning.

Well-known radio personality, Redi Thlabi, and acclaimed cardiothoracic surgeon, Dr Susan Vosloo, encouraged and inspired the graduates during the two ceremonies on the day.

During the morning session, Thlabi imparted some of the valuable lessons she learned in her personal life as well as in her career. She encouraged graduates to change the script of our country for future generations, to be mindful of others and to find meaning in whatever you do.

“Those who have a platform, a voice and an education have the power to help others further on their journey,” Thlabi said. “I believe we are living in an exciting time – a time to leave a legacy behind, a time to make a mark in this world.”

Graduates from the Faculty of Health Sciences and the School for Open Learning were addressed by Dr Vosloo during the second ceremony.

Dr Vosloo often referred to the success of transformation at our university and added that few successes are achieved without adversity. She encouraged the afternoon’s graduates to become professionals with a high sense of dignity, accountability and transparency in their workplace.

“Remember that you and you alone are able to decide what your approach will be in anything in life from here on forward,” she said.

Dr Vosloo, a Kovsie alumnus, graduated in 1980. Shortly after this, she became the first female heart surgeon in South Africa. She is currently in independent private practice at Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital, having also worked from 1998 untill 2012 at the Vincent Pallotti Hospital in Cape Town.

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