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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

UFS management praise dean for achievement
2004-08-17

 

 

Prof Letticia Moja was praised by Prof Frederick Fourie, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Free State (UFS), and other members of management today for winning the education category of this year’s Shoprite Checkers/SABC2 Woman of the Year Award.

“We are extremely proud of Prof Moja with this prestigious achievement. It is also a feather in the cap for the UFS that our leaders are being recognised on a national level,” said Prof Fourie.

Prof Moja was appointed as Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at the end of last year, becoming the first woman to be appointed in this position at any medical faculty in the country.

“Prof Moja was nominated by her colleagues at the faculty. It is heart-warming to me that she made such an impact in the faculty in the short period since she was appointed as dean to be nominated for this prestigious award,” said Prof Fourie.

“On the nomination form, her colleagues wrote: ‘Prof Moja is not only a remarkable woman, but also a person with gifted qualities of leadership, dedication and compassion. She is blessed with the ability to listen to others, is an extremely reliable person and a competent leader’ – this makes her, in my view, a true winner”, said Prof Fourie.

Prof Moja was recently chosen as vice-president of the Health Professions Council and also serves on the Medical and Dental Board. Her involvement in these councils and committees enables her to represent women in general, as well as previous minority groups.

Prof Moja headed the Gynaecologic Oncology Unit at the Ga-Rankuwa Hospital in Pretoria from 1997 to February 2002, where after she was appointed as Vice-Dean at the UFS’s Faculty of Health Sciences and at the end of 2003 she was appointed in her current position. During her career, she has attended four international and eight local congresses, presented eight oral papers and four posters, was an author to one publication, co-authored four publications, was a guest editor to one publication and supervised three postgraduate publications.

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