A Star is Born at UKZN’s Medical School

A Star is Born at UKZN’s Medical School
Mr Kumeren Govender, UKZN’s shining star.

With a humble unassuming manner, UKZN’s Mr Kumeren Govender is ready to take the world by storm with his treasure trove of talents and skills.

The final-year student at UKZN’s Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine has achieved exceptional recognition following the publication of his first-author paper titled: “Clinical Risk Factors for In-Hospital Mortality in Older Adults with HIV Infection – Findings from a South African Hospital Administrative Dataset”.

Having a paper published in a peer-reviewed journal while still an undergraduate is a highly rare achievement.

Govender has co-authored a further two articles published in the Southern African Journal of Infectious Diseases and African Health Science, published letters to the editor of the South African Medical Journal, and also presented a paper at the 6th South African AIDS Conference in June 2013.

An 11th hour change of career choice from Engineering to Medicine saw Govender enrol at UKZN’s Medical School in 2012 after he matriculated at Star College with 12 distinctions in English, Afrikaans, Tamil, Business Studies, Accounting, Biology, Physical Science, Mathematics Probability, Mathematics, Advanced Mathematics, Life Science and Information Technology.

Govender later joined the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA) where he was given the opportunity to interact with international experts in the field of HIV and TB, including Professor Françoise Barré-Sinoussi, who received the Nobel prize in 2008 for the discovery of HIV as well as with Bill Gates, who funds numerous HIV and AIDS trials in sub-Saharan Africa.

His long-term research interests involve reducing high mortality rates in developing nations, including addressing the high HIV and TB disease burden in sub-Saharan Africa.

‘My medical training continues to provide me with excellent insight into clinical medicine compounded with research skills that I developed after joining CAPRISA,’ said Govender.  ‘This distinctive combination of clinical medicine and research skills I am acquiring enables a deeper understanding of the clinical context, enhances evidence-based practices in clinical settings and fuels innovation to address challenges faced in limited-resourced settings.

‘My interest in research led me to present a poster on HIV mortality outcomes at the 2013 SAAIDS Conference and further co-publish two peer-reviewed DHET systematic review articles on TB recurrence and short-term perioperative mortality in HIV positive vs negative patients.’

Govender’s recent paper identifies clinical risk factors associated with In-Hospital Mortality (IHM) and their overall contribution towards IHM in older South African adults with HIV infection. Clinical data for 690 older adults with HIV infection at the Hlabisa Hospital in KwaZulu-Natal was reviewed from 2011-2015 and the findings indicated that the cumulative incidence of IHM in the study population was 27.1%.

Men were associated with a 67% higher risk of IHM compared to women and the study also found that tuberculosis and renal failure were important predictors of a higher risk of IHM. The authors recommend that the findings are used to develop interventions aimed at reducing the risk of IHM in older adults, such as risk stratification systems.

Govender, who aims to obtain a PhD and specialise in internal medicine, speaks five languages:

English, Zulu, Afrikaans, Tamil and Turkish.

His achievements and honours include, being placed in the Top  Five ‘intellects’ of the International Science Competition in Abuja, Nigeria 2010; receiving a medal from the International Sustainable World Energy, Engineering, and Environment Project (I-SWEEEP) Texas, America 2010; receiving awards from SAASTA 2011, ThinkQuest Oracle educational foundation 2009 for website design; being awarded the UKZN Dean’s Commendation for every semester 2012-2017; the Vice-Chancellor’s Scholarship 2013 - Top Five students in the College of Health Sciences;  and the Golden Key Chapter Award 2014.

Govender started the South African Medical Students Association (SAMSA)-UKZN branch to ensure collaboration and networking among medical schools in the country and also is part of the Golden Key Society executive committee at the Medical School.

Govender, who makes time to pursue his love for classical Indian music, has travelled to Germany to play in a violin concert, has swum the Midmar Mile open water race and is involved with several charity events at King Edward Hospital and Ethelbert Children’s Home.

Govender’s father is a Physics Lecturer at UKZN while his mother teaches in a rural area in KwaZulu-Natal.

Govender commented on his life as a final-year Medical student: ‘Final year Medicine reminds me of matric all over again. You’re expected to reach the pinnacle of knowledge in your training and be ready for a world full of responsibility, where every decision you make on a patient has dire consequences, that may even prevent you from having a good sleep (even when you’re not on call!). Personally, final year means losing the safety net that a Medical student has and becoming a skilled independent practitioner. It was my recently departed gran’s dream to see her grandson qualify as a doctor to help others and now it’s my dream to make her proud.’


author : MaryAnn Francis
author email : francism@ukzn.ac.za

UKZN Senior Lecturer at Harvard for two years

UKZN Senior Lecturer at Harvard for two years
Dr Tivani Mashamba-Thompson.

UKZN’s Public Health Senior Lecturer Dr Tivani Mashamba-Thompson joins Harvard Medical School’s Global Clinical Scholars Research Training (GCSRT) Programme for two years starting 2017 to 2019.

The programme aims to provide clinicians and clinician-scientists with advanced training in conducting clinical research.

‘My research interest is translation medicine, a discipline in biomedical research, aimed at expediting the discovery of new diagnostic tools and treatments by using a multi-disciplinary, highly collaborative, “bench-to-bedside” approach,’ said Mashamba-Thompson.

Her research projects are still at the concept stage, ‘I will work on implementing frameworks which were guided by evidence obtained from my previous research. I will work with University of Washington’s Professor Paul Drain and hopefully also with other local researchers.’

During the first year, the blended-learning approach combines the traditional face-to-face teaching methods of three workshops and recorded online lectures supported by interactive webinars, to form an integrated instructional approach. During the second year, Mashamba-Thompson will work on developing a research proposal for a large research study.

She found out about the programme through the Harvard Medical School website and applied after she realised she met all the requirements to get into the programme.  ‘All students/participants are expected to demonstrate competency in the following:  performing both observational and experimental clinical research; Plan and implement a clinical research project and; analyse, interpret, and present clinical research data.’

Harvard Medical School’s Global and Continuing Education Senior Associate Dean, Dr Ajay K Singh, congratulated Mashamba-Thompson saying her notable accomplishments and enthusiasm for the programme stood out among a competitive pool of applicants.

‘We are certain that you will be a valuable member of the GCSRT class of 2017-2018,’ said Singh. They were confident she would find the programme personally, academically, and professionally rewarding.

She will join a diverse group of students, representing more than 60 countries across the world. The GCSRT) Programme will be launched in June, beginning with the first workshop in London, UK.

Mashamba-Thompson is currently involved in undergraduate and postgraduate teaching in the Department of Public Health Medicine and is supervising masters and PhD students.

She was recently invited to participate in a POC testing stakeholder workshop held by the International Diagnostics Centre (IDC) of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and the African Society for Laboratory Medicine (ASLM) in Cape Town.

She is married to Rowan Thompson and they have three children, Gabrielle, M’hloti and Frank.

She hails from a village in Limpopo province called Mulamula. She has spent most of her adult life in the United Kingdom and completed her honours degree at the University of Surrey and a postgraduate diploma at the University of Greenwich, London. 


author : Nombuso Dlamini
author email : Dlaminin10@ukzn.ac.za

UKZN Alumni Perform at Centre for Jazz

UKZN Alumni Perform at Centre for Jazz
Deep Breath with Sibusiso ‘Mash’ Mashiloane.

UKZN alumni from the Music Discipline performed on stage at the Centre for Jazz and Popular Music. The first gig of the year featured Deep Breath while the other was by Sibusiso ‘Mash’ Mashiloane.

Deep Breath is a band from Durban comprising Cebo Mthwane on vocals, Joseph Dube on keyboard and Thato Motsepe on drums. Their music involves arrangements which the group says are unique. Stylistically, they borrow from jazz, kwaito and dance music.

The trio have been composing and performing together since enrolling to study jazz at UKZN in 2007, ‘Our intention is to inspire and uplift,’ says Motsepe, adding that they have ‘incorporated an African voice with a grooving and percussive piano’.

The other performance at the Centre features UKZN lecturer and renowned musician Mashiloane playing alongside UKZN students Lungelo Ngcobo (2nd keys), Dalisu Ndlazi (bass), Nic Pitman (guitar), Riley Giandhari (drums), Linda Sikhakhane (sax), Njabulo Shabalala (percussion), and Zoe Masuku (vocals).

A UKZN alumnus, Mashiloane, said: ‘Studying at UKZN was the best decision for my career and future. I am able to interact with musicians from across the world and talk the musical language with no fear. My compositions are well informed and my playing skills are at an international level. Plus I am an all-rounder in terms of being a musician.’

He describes his music as African, spiritual, soulful, funky and jazz.

Doors for tonight’s show (February 22) open at 5.30pm. Tickets are available at the door for R70, reduced to R45 for pensioners and R20 for students.


author : Melissa Mungroo
author email : mungroo@ukzn.ac.za

The UKZN Griot. Of Balls and Awards

The UKZN Griot. Of Balls and Awards

The following definitions of soccer and rugby tell us much about the academic malaise.  Soccer consumes 80 minutes involving 22 players pretending to be in serious pain, rolling about in the field in abject misery. Except, of course, when one of them scores. Then the entire team engages in a writhing group grope worthy of a porn movie.  Thirty rugby players, in contrast, spend the 80 minutes pretending not to be in pain, and might high five or crash into each other when scoring a try.  The old adage that soccer is played by gentlemen watched by hooligans and that rugby is played by hooligans watched by gentlemen no longer applies.   

Whether in pain or not, the players of both sports at top level earn obscene salaries, though rugby players are also hedging for their future health and potential disability – whether temporary or permanent.  They are finished by their early 30s whereas the soccer group gropers can continue groping for a while yet.

Academics, in contrast, have no sell-by date except those determined by pension funds, institutional policies and the stresses of untenable staff:student ratios, under-prepared students and  administrative meltdown.  Far too many take early retirement just to get their heads back into normal shape.

The solution:  we should think of ourselves as golfers, that rather boring sport where huge crowds meander across water-sapping greens after (mainly) men who hit little white balls across what one might call a delightfully manicured battlefield interspaced with obstacles like bunkers, ponds and the occasional wild life.  All very genteel.  Golfers live to a ripe old age still playing.  Look at Gary Player. Golfers try to level the playing grounds by means of a mechanism they call handicaps.

However, golfers winnings, like tennis players, are measured in US dollars.  Where the rest of us cretins are just happy to bank our meagre monthly pay cheques, top sportsmen earn millions.  These millions used to be plastered all over the media along with their scores.  OK, it’s just a few of the professionals who achieve this status, making the soccer players look poor, even as they are bought and sold by their clubs in what otherwise might  be categorised as a legal high-end slave trade where the relationship between coaches and pedophilia are now under the spotlight. 

In the academic world, in South Africa, there are the research millionaires who play the right sport (sciences, engineering, medicine) – so to speak – and the rest of us also-rans who play in poor sports (Humanities, Education).  We don’t try to hit little white or larger balls here and there, but rather to change the nature of the game itself.  We’re lucky if we can score but two ‘accredited’ articles annually, while the big hitters make the Proteas look dismal as they reach into the 300-550 annual article accomplishment. That’s one plus publication a day! 

This extraordinary achievement – which can only occur through massive funding, the availability of literate and competent lab assistants, a low teaching load, good institutional support and a factory production-line – is what separates these superstars from the plodders looking for their balls in the bunker sand.  Among the plodders, of course, are those who write for readerships, not balance-sheets, indexes or bureaucrats.  We thus rarely get out of the bunkers, and when we do, we are reminded that the golfers and the tennis players are the monetary role models.

So, how does UKZN play this game?   Once upon a time when academics made the rules and management followed them, all peer-reviewed journals – whether accredited or not - qualified for internal disbursements of research incentives, if on a differential scale.  Like with medical aids, the funds earned by the accredited articles cross-subsidised those that did not qualify for this arbitrary qualifying status. 

Everyone was happy. 

Actually, only the academics were happy.  At some point a manager changed the rules.  The ‘unaccredited’ journals were removed from the Natal University list. As one research manager observed: ‘All other research publications simply became invisible – and with this, a major part of our research in the Humanities – and were not included in the annual research publication.’

UKZN at its recent Awards Ceremony for the Top 30 researchers, into which I squeezed, adopted the golfing metaphor.  It listed the top winners of grant applications in rands. The Top 30, a different list that was not publically monetised,   however excluded the top researchers who did not play on the designated ‘accredited’ greens, as their courses [the journals in which they published]) had not made the DHET lists.  UKZN imperils its international standing as the rankings agencies care not a jot for DHET accreditation, but rather global exposure.

Recently, I was invited to external a PhD from another university.  I did not apply to undertake this minimally remunerated and often arduous and certainly thankless task.  I was invited to do the work.  But ironically, this university wanted to justify its invitation to me by asking me to vet myself, and for me to categorise my publications into ‘accredited’ and ‘non-accredited’.   It was clear that the ‘accredited’ journals (i.e. only those on the SAPSE list) were to be taken seriously. Since only South African journals can be ‘accredited’, the IBSS and WoS-listed journals not subject to this classification, it was unclear to me why some busy bureaucrat wanted this division.  So I told the university to take a hike.   I don’t mind being underpaid to examine - a bartering exercise at best - but I refuse to waste a morning justifying my employment by mindless form filling.

In response, the department concerned filled in its university’s form from my CV.      Form-filling thus becomes the real academic task.  While I understand that examiners need to be vetted, this particular exercise had little bearing on my ability and experience to be an examiner.

Thus, my story on what academics are now required to do, continues, and the systems and procedures become ever more bizarre, time-wasting and ineffectual.  A bad examiner will be a bad examiner no matter how many accredited publications they have, whether or not they fill in the forms required by the administrators.  

 

- Keyan G Tomaselli is Distinguished Professor, University of Johannesburg (UJ), and a UKZN Professor Emeritus and Fellow.  He’s now filling in forms at UJ. Watch this space.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this column are the author’s own.

author : Keyan G Tomaselli
author email : TOMASELL@ukzn.ac.za

I-AfriHub - Ukuhlelwa Kabusha Kokufundiswa KwezobuNjiniyela E-UKZN

I-AfriHub - Ukuhlelwa Kabusha Kokufundiswa KwezobuNjiniyela E-UKZN
ISikole SezobuNjiniyela E-UKZN sesisungule i-AfriHub ukuze ibe yiziko lapho kusebenzisana imikhakha ehlukene kwezocwaningo lwamadolobha esimanje ayimpumelelo.

Click here for the English version

Ukwakha ezokufundisa ezobunjiniyela ngokuhamba phambili kwi-Hub for the African City of the Future (i-AfriHub), kusho u-Dr Rudi Kimmie, ongumphathi omusha we-AfriHub.

U-Kimmie, onolwazi olunzulu kwezokufundiswa kwezobunjiniyela, ezokuxhasa, ezamabhizinisi nokuphathwa kwemisebenzi uzimisele ngokubeka iSikole SezobuNjiniyela ezingeni lapho sizosebenzisa ubudlelwanekusebenza phakathi kwemikhakha nokuhambisana ngqo nezidingo zezimboni.

I-AfriHub, eyingxenye yeSikole SezobuNjiniyela isebenzisa isasasa elikhona ngobu-Afrika ezwenikazi eselifeze konke obekuyizimpokophelo zentuthuko zenkulungwaneminyaka (Millenium Development Goals). Ngokusebenzisa amakhono asezingeni eliphezulu abacwaningi nezifundiswa zaseNyuvesi Ehamba Phambili Kwezokufunda Kwesi-Afrika, i-Afrihub ihlose ukwenza imisebenzi engamabhizinisi, emisha negxile entuthukweni. 

Njengoba inobudlelwane obuhle nemikhakha yamabhizinisi neyobunjiniyela, i-Afrihub izonxenxa abatshalizimali ukuze kuthuthukiswe amakhono nocwaningo olunomthelela omkhulu kwezomnotho kanye nasemphakathini.

Ngenkathi yethulwa kuLwezi enyakeni owedlule i-AfriHub ivuse isasasa emhlanganweni i-Science Forum South kanye nokukhangiswa ekuthole ku-Touch Radio. Kuyimanje i-AfriHub isesingxoxweni nosomabhizinisi abangase babambe iqhaza, ibhekisisa kabusha isivumelwano sokusebenzisana noMasipala WeTheku kanti futhi seyithole nemifundaze ebalelwa esigidini..

‘I-Hub for the African City of the Future iletha umbono omusha esifuna ukuwusebenzisa ekuqeqesheni onjiniyela be-African City of the Future’, kusho iDini Yesikole SezobuNjiniyela, uSolwazi Cristina Trois.


author : UKZNDABAonline
author email : kimmier@ukzn.ac.za

UKZN Psychology Clinic Playroom Revamped by Students

UKZN Psychology Clinic Playroom Revamped by Students
Masters students revamping the children’s playroom at the UKZN Psychology Clinic.

The playroom at UKZN’s Psychology Clinic on the Howard College campus was recently revamped by 15 masters students from the Clinical Psychology programme.

The Clinic, which provides psychotherapy and counselling to the community at an affordable rate, is run by under-supervision trainee Psychologists completing their Master’s degree in Clinical or Counselling Psychology.

With assistance from their Lecturer, Professor Duncan James Cartwright, the students, armed with paint and refurbishing materials, transformed the children’s playroom into a warm welcoming space with bright bold colours and murals, books and toys.

Student Ms Lauren Barker said: ‘Renovating the playroom brought us together as a team giving us an opportunity to not only bond but to get to understand each other.’

Said student Ms Zahra Gouse: ‘We wanted to create a welcoming and calm environment for the playroom so children will feel comfortable to share their feelings so we can better understand and help.’

Mr Siluleko Zulu pointed out the importance of their role as trainee Psychologists at the Clinic. ‘It is in this environment that you realise that you’re working with people’s lives and it puts everything into perspective. We all have that passion to help people and the clinic allows us to do just that.’

The Clinic offers short-term treatment for depression, interpersonal conflict, anxiety, trauma, behavioral concerns and pre-, post- and ongoing counselling for HIV and AIDS. Support groups are also available for anxiety, depression and HIV and AIDS.

The psychological services are provided at the following reduced rates: R120 for a therapeutic/counselling session and R900 for assessments, including a report.

For further information phone Ms Doreen Hattingh at 031-260 7425/2612 or email psychclinic@ukzn.ac.za


author : Melissa Mungroo
author email : mungroo@ukzn.ac.za

Fall in Love with Maths – Accounting Academic

Fall in Love with Maths – Accounting Academic
Accounting academic Dr Msizi Mkhize engaging with Inanda Comprehensive High School pupils.

Fall in love with maths and you’ll never suffer from a broken heart!

That was the gist of the message on Valentine’s Day from School of Accounting, Economics and Finance’s Lecturer and Thuthuka Project Co-ordinator, Dr Msizi Mkhize.

Mkhize, who dubs his initiative: “Love Mathematics Day”, spent two hours conducting an interactive maths show with young learners of Inanda Comprehensive High School by linking mathematics with the worlds of the youngsters. The event was so successful that it even made the front page of Isolezwe newspaper.

Mkhize says learners and teachers were amazed to see how their daily lives and bible verses can be linked to maths.

‘My aim in conducting the maths shows is to encourage learners to be interested in maths at an early age because this will open up more career options since many careers require maths,’ he said.

Mkhize believes that encouraging creativity in Basic Education has the potential of not only improving education, but also empowering learners and teachers with a special type of thinking and generations of ideas and algorithms.

Looking to the future, Mkhize - who is currently working on a Mathematics Stage Play - plans to continuing sharing his innovative and creative mathematics teaching and learning strategies. He is further looking forward to accepting invitations from schools and churches where he demystifies maths.

His next stop is at St John the Baptist Anglican Church in Pinetown later this month.

Photograph courtesy of: Doctor Ngcobo, Isolezwe newspaper.


author : Thandiwe Jumo
author email : jumo@ukzn.ac.za

Medical Student Wins Top Prize in Anaesthetics

Medical Student Wins Top Prize in Anaesthetics
Mr Nitesh Brijlal receives the Horace Wells Medal from Dr Dean Gopalan.

Fifth-year Medical student, Mr Nitesh Brijlal, has won the South African Society of Anaesthesiologists (SASA) Horace Wells Medal for the Best Anaesthetic Student of 2016.

HoD of Anaesthetics and Critical Care, Dr Dean Gopalan, congratulated Brijlal and presented him with the medal and a cash award during the weekly departmental Anaesthetic meeting at the Medical School.

Brijlal (28), a qualified Pharmacist, obtained the highest marks in Anaesthetics and Critical Care during his fourth year of Medical studies.

‘It was totally unexpected.  I guess my hard work and perseverance paid off,’ he said.  ‘I was doing a pharmacist locum when I received a call from Dr Trisha Ramsamy, St Aidan’s Hospital fourth year Anaesthetics Block Co-ordinator, who gave me the good news.  Speechless and elated – that’s exactly how I felt.

‘Receiving such a prestigious accolade was indeed an honour.  I thoroughly enjoyed the block and my time spent doing two extra intakes was definitely beneficial,’ he said.

Brijlal greatly appreciated the dedication and excellent tuition he received from various Anaesthetic staff members.

During his Pharmacist internship at King Edward VIII Hospital in 2011, he sometimes accompanied doctors in theatre which he says were memorable experiences responsible for his early passion for anaesthetics.

Brijlal, an adventurous individual and ardent Proteas fan, loves playing cricket and travelling.   He still works at various pharmacies as a locum on weekends and during mid-year campus breaks.

He obtained his Bachelor of Pharmacy degree summa cum laude from UKZN in 2010 and completed his community service at uNtunjambili Hospital in Kranskop in 2012.  He later worked as a Grade 1 Pharmacist at KwaMashu Community Health Centre for a month, before joining the Medical School in February 2013.


author : Nombuso Dlamini
author email : dlaminin10@ukzn.ac.za

UKZN Professor to Attend Conference in Cameroon on HIV-Related Kidney Disease

UKZN Professor to Attend Conference in Cameroon on HIV-Related Kidney Disease
Professor Rajendra Bhimma.

Paediatric Nephrologist Professor Rajendra Bhimma has been invited to participate in the Controversies Conference on HIV-Related Kidney Diseases which takes place in Yaoundé, Cameroon, from March 17-20.

Bhimma was invited by Kidney Disease: Improving Global Outcomes (KDIGO), a Belgium foundation which works to improve the care and outcomes of kidney disease patients worldwide through promoting co-ordination, collaboration and integration of initiatives to develop and implement clinical practice guidelines.

‘I will present our work on HIV-related kidney diseases in children,’ said Bhimma.

‘This is a Controversies Conference on HIV-Related Kidney Diseases but it is only for about 30 world experts - so it is not a conventional conference.’

He believes the foundation invited him because of his work at UKZN on HIV-related kidney disease in children, ‘We are one of the leading Pediatric Units doing research on HIV-related kidney diseases in children.’

The purpose of the Conference is to gather a global panel of multi-disciplinary clinical and scientific experts to identify and discuss key issues relevant to the optimal diagnosis and management of HIV-related kidney diseases.

‘I am expected to review the literature on HIV-related kidney diseases in children and to contribute towards the development of protocols for the classification and management of this condition in children,’ explained Bhimma.

He said it was a great honour to be invited by the National Institute of Health and to have his team’s work recognised by the international community.

The Conference will bring together a multidisciplinary, international panel of clinical and scientific experts in areas such as nephrology, infectious diseases, renal pathology, and pharmacology to identify and discuss key issues relevant to the optimal diagnosis and management of HIV-related kidney diseases.

‘The specific goals of the Conference are to define the pathology of HIV-related kidney disease; describe the role of genetics in the natural history, diagnosis, and treatment of HIV-associated nephropathy; characterise the renal risk-benefit of antiretroviral therapy in HIV treatment and prevention; and define best practices to delay the progression of kidney disease and to treat end-stage kidney disease in HIV-positive individuals. It will also identify knowledge gaps and areas for future research,’ he said.

Bhimma published a review article on: “Kidney Disease in Children and Adolescents with Perinatal HIV-1 infection”, in the Journal of the International Aids Society and presented on various aspects of HIV-related kidney diseases in children at conferences, both nationally and internationally.

He also won the ISN GO Clinical R&P award for his project titled: “The Role of MYH9/APOL1 Variants and Mutations in the Development of Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis in South African Children with Idiopathic and HIV-Related Nephrotic Syndrome”.

Bhimma will present this work at the ISN 2017 World Congress of Nephrology, in Mexico City from April 21 to 25.

Bhimma has been in the field of Nephrology for more than 20 years with research interests in kidney diseases in children. He is the recipient of several awards including the Charlotte Roberts Travel Award, Nestlé Nutrition Scholarship Programme, Non-Communicable Diseases Award for Kidney Disease Research in Children, and the Adcock-Ingram Critical Care International Man of the Year Award.


author : Nombuso Dlamini
author email : dlaminin10@ukzn.ac.za

Three Matric High Achievers join Occupational Therapy Class

Three Matric High Achievers join Occupational Therapy Class
Professor Kitty Uys with top matric achievers Ms Daniella Duggan of Eshowe, Erynn Scholms and Ms Kayle Becker, both of Durban.

Three young women who were top achievers in their matric examinations have joined UKZN’s 2017 Occupational Therapy class.

They are Ms Daniella Duggan of Eshowe, and Ms Erynn Scholms and Ms Kayle Becker, both of Durban.

‘I am excited to be part of the Occupational Therapy Class of 2017, our class is small and we have all bonded and that makes our class more interesting and enjoyable,’ said Duggan.

She says her love for children is what drew her to the Occupational Therapy discipline. After she completed matric in 2015, she took a gap year, volunteering her services at John Wesley, a children’s home in her hometown of Eshowe.

‘My gap year afforded me a chance to figure out where my passion in life lies – I now know this is exactly where I should be,’ she said. 

Schloms, proud to represent Danville Park High School, says she didn’t know much about Occupation Therapy until she was inspired by a family friend who practised in the field. ‘In this profession, clients trust you with their lives and a therapist-client bond is generated. That is why I am determined to change lives for the better and make a visible impact within my community.’

Top matric achiever at New Forest High School, Becker is looking forward to obtaining her bachelor degree that she hopes will open doors for her to become an Occupational Therapist.

Becker, who wants to work in a State hospital after she qualifies, says her parents are proud of her achievement while she is extremely grateful to her school exchange programme which enabled her to study in Texas in the United States during her Grade 11 year. This remarkable opportunity gave her an overview understanding of how psychology meets physical rehabilitation.

Welcoming first-year students, Academic Leader Professor Kitty Uys said ‘The tragedy that occurred in Gauteng, Esidimeni, leading to the deaths of at least 94 mental health care users, is a warning sign to all health practitioners.’  All our first-year students have taken an  oath, which states that when you enter occupational therapy you will respect clients’ rights to dignity, always endeavour to provide equitable and appropriate services, not permit considerations of religion, nationality, race, politics, gender, social standing, sexuality or personal gain to adversely influence therapy, not become involved in unacceptable professional practices, maintain the highest level of personal and professional integrity, strive to attain the best standard of professional practice and ethical conduct, and uphold the values of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Uys detailed.


author : Lihle Sosibo
author email : sosibo@ukzn.ac.za

UKZN’s Discipline of Optometry and the Islamic Medical Association reinforce Vision Care Partnership

UKZN’s Discipline of Optometry and the Islamic Medical Association reinforce Vision Care Partnership
Optometry Academic Leader Dr Diane van Staden (centre) seals a partnership agreement with IMA Chairperson, Ms Sabera Asmal (right).

The Discipline of Optometry at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) has reinforced a partnership agreement with the Islamic Medical Association (IMA) in a recent meeting held at the Westville campus.  A collaboration agreement was signed with UKZN’s Optometry Discipline also presenting the Islamic Medical Association with a certificate of appreciation given the long standing funding support by IMA towards providing eye care solutions for the indigent through UKZN’s Optometry clinic.

For the past five years the Islamic Medical Association has funded specialised hard contact lenses for patients with keratoconus and other significant vision problems who cannot afford this type of correction. ‘Our aim is to improve vision and quality of life for indigent patients, particularly those from rural communities’ said Ms Sabera Asmal, the Chairperson of the Islamic Medical Association in KwaZulu-Natal.

The Optometry clinic offers full vision care services including eye examinations, provision of spectacles and contact lenses, paediatric vision and binocular vision therapy and low vision services which focuses on partially-sighted patients.

‘With IMA channelling funding through our UKZN Eye Clinic, there has been immediate benefit of improved vision, followed by improved quality of life, extended to secondary benefits such as increased opportunities for social and economic advancement through their improved visual abilities. If people can see, they are enabled to work and have fulfilling social lives. This partnership has made a remarkable impact already.  Other opportunities for support and collaboration will still be explored further.’ expressed Dr Diane van Staden, Academic Leader at UKZN’s Optometry discipline.

IMA has offered to sponsor the cost of contact lenses for up to 20 indigent keratoconic patients who require hard lenses and are seen in the UKZN Optometry clinic in 2017.  In addition, IMA has agreed to fund the provision of 20 pairs of spectacles and 10 low vision devices for indigent paediatric and visually impaired patients respectively who cannot afford them.

‘Eye care services have become more affordable and accessible to indigent communities in recent years, but hard contact lenses in particular are a specialty service not offered by many practitioners in the private sector and are not available at all in public sector hospitals.  IMA’s funding of these lenses will go a long way towards assisting patients who cannot afford such,’ said Miss Naimah Ebrahim Khan, a contact lens Lecturer at UKZN’s Discipline of Optometry.

In the collaboration firming meeting between IMA and UKZN’s Optometry Discipline, the need to workshop Eye Clinic staff on the selection criteria for patients who would benefit in the 2017 Keratoconus project was discussed and emphasised at length.  Patients who are identified as needing correction and cannot come up with the funds will undergo a basic socioeconomic screening interview. A basic means test will include looking at the number of people living in the household, number of people employed in the household and the total household income.  Thereafter, identified patients will be expected to contribute a percentage of the cost of the devices, the balance of which will be covered by the IMA.

The Discipline of Optometry expressed the value of its association with stakeholders such as the IMA and will continue to strengthen partnerships of this nature for the benefits of patients in need.


author : Lihle Sosibo
author email : sosibo@ukzn.ac.za

UKZN Academic Gets Award for Best Presentation at Marine and Coastal Educators Conference

UKZN Academic Gets Award for Best Presentation at Marine and Coastal Educators Conference
Dr Deborah Robertson-Andersson presenting at the MCEN Conference.

A UKZN scientist and academic received the award for the best presentation at the annual Conference of the Marine and Coastal Educators Network (MCEN) held in Durban.

She is Dr Deborah Robertson-Andersson of the Marine Biology, Aquaculture, Conservation Education and Ecophysiology (MACE) laboratory in the School of Life Sciences.

Robertson-Andersson’s presentation at the Conference, themed “Our Changing Coasts”, was titled: “Booms, Bins and Bags: the B3 solution to the BIGA problem”.

The presentation’s focus was on the role marine and conservation educators play in teaching citizens not to litter as well as innovative solutions to help ensure a marine environment that is healthy, sustainable and free from plastic pollution. This is in response to the still pervasive problem of litter on Durban’s beaches and in its marine ecosystems.

‘We still have this problem because, despite having Books, Information and General knowledge, we have trouble Acting, hence the “BIGA” problem,’ explained Robertson-Andersson.

The thought of knowledge simply gathering dust instead of being applied led to the MACE Laboratory undertaking a knowledge transfer study of aquaculture research to aquaculture farmers in KwaZulu-Natal.

‘The results were shocking,’ said Robertson-Andersson. ‘Despite researchers and funders investing resources in creating manuals to translate the latest advancements in scientific research for aquaculture farmers, not one farmer surveyed had read the information.  Universities have traditionally been seen as knowledge generators, but what good is a generator without its electrical network to transmit the message to the users to help them turn on their light bulbs?’

Robertson-Andersson wanted her presentation to trigger a conversation between educators and scientists within the marine and conservation education fields with the aim of combating this crisis through research, education and action.

‘With the worrying problem of plastic pollution on South Africa’s beaches in the news recently, we need everyone working in this field to understand the subject and help transfer this knowledge to the public,’ she said.

The Conference extended beyond simply academic presentations with delegates spending a night at the uShaka Sea World Aquarium among the fish, and also exploring the iSimangaliso Wetland Park ecosystem for three days.

Comments from facilitators and other delegates emphasised the importance of collaboration between scientists and marine educators as they contribute their expertise in their fields, while educators contribute presentation skills for non-academic audiences.


author : Christine Cuénod
author email : cuenod@ukzn.ac.za

PhD Student Presents Research on Assisting Survivors of Violent Conflict

PhD Student Presents Research on Assisting Survivors of Violent Conflict
PhD student Ms Josephine Adibo (second left) who presented her research at the Howard College Theatre.

PhD student in the School of Applied Human Sciences, Ms Josephine Adibo, has presented the findings of her research into methods of assisting survivors of violent conflict.

The presentation was titled: “Acholi Indigenous Methods for Healing and Re-integrating Survivors of Violent Conflict into the Community: A Case of Gulu and Kitgum, Northern Uganda”.

The Forum of African Psychology (FAP) supported the seminar which was held at the School.

Adibo explained that in Northern Uganda, Acholi Indigenous approaches for the reintegration of survivors of violent conflict into the community have not been systematically studied. She identified that Western theoretical perspectives dominated reintegration efforts.

The study identifies the specific problems that arise with these approaches their processes as well as their therapeutic or healing mechanisms.

She said the findings indicated that the methods identified were performed for various reasons, including to protect survivors and their families from bad (vengeful) spirits, reintegrating a survivor into the family/community, and calming the ancestors.

Spirituality, compensation, reconciliation, community participation, forgiveness and the ritual cleansing of the space where the violence took place, were among the curative elements.

‘Most participants had positive perceptions on how the rituals helped survivors and the community in terms of healing and reintegration. Religion, modernisation and globalisation were associated with the perception that the rituals were not helpful,’ said Adibo.

‘Reconciliation of women survivors with their partners/spouses proved problematic even after the rituals, which points to the gendered dimension surrounding the process.’

The seminar concluded with recommendations for embedding indigenous healing methods into the reintegration process in a context-sensitive manner.


author : Melissa Mungroo
author email : mungroo@ukzn.ac.za

UKZN Welcomes Vice-Chancellor of Chandigarh University in India

UKZN Welcomes Vice-Chancellor of Chandigarh University in India
Professor Rajan Sharma, Deputy Director - International Relations, Chandigarh University; Professor Deresh Ramjugernath, Pro Vice-Chancellor Innovation, Commercialisation and Entrepreneurship; Professor Rajinder Singh Bawa, Vice-Chancellor, Chandigarh University and Dr Albert van Jaarsveld, UKZN’s Vice-Chancellor and Principal.

UKZN welcomed a delegation from Chandigarh University (CU) in Punjab, India, with the intent to formalise a partnership between the two institutions.

The visitors, led by the CU’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Rajinder Singh Bawa, were looking for ways to partner with UKZN in areas of research, student and academic exchanges, an establishment of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and joint research projects.

Bawa said both universities needed to identify common areas of collaboration in business, industry, the environment and law.

UKZN’s Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Dr Albert van Jaarsveld, agreed that the signing of an MOU would cement the collaboration however; common areas need to be identified to ensure that the MOU is active.

The Vice-Chancellors agreed that the way forward should begin with a visit to CU by senior UKZN representatives.

Van Jaarsveld said synergies in teaching and learning and research needed to be identified.  

Bawa spoke on CU’s courses involving collaboration with industry, its paperless curriculum presentation, and the creation of its own academic material. He said an academic audit was conducted every semester, while the curriculum was revised every two years.


author : Sithembile Shabangu
author email : shabangus@ukzn.ac.za

Matric Wonder Kids join the Pharmaceutical Class

Matric Wonder Kids join the Pharmaceutical Class
Pharmaceutical Sciences welcomes top achievers.

The Discipline of Pharmaceutical Sciences in the College of Health Sciences has gained three students who obtained as many as eight distinctions in their matric examinations.

They are 16-year-old Ms Nonsikelelo Ndimande of the Umkhanyakude District, who matriculated at Sinethezikele High School scoring eight distinctions; 18-year-old Ms Naheeda Ebrahim of Piet Retief in Mpumalanga, who obtained seven distinctions in matric, and Ms Ayesha Kajee (17) of Westville Girls' High, who also got seven distinctions.

‘Anything is possible. I didn’t let my background or circumstances hamper me,’ said Ndimande.

UKZN was her first choice and the only university she ever wanted to attend. Although she had hoped to study Medicine, Ndimande is overjoyed at being accepted for a Bachelor in Pharmacy degree. She is interested in understanding the process behind drug composition and production.

‘I have big dreams and would love to become the most respected and successful pharmacist and medical doctor. I want to give back to my own community’.

Said Ebrahim: ‘UKZN was my first choice and I am pleased to be here. My sister graduated here as a pharmacist.’ Keen to follow in her sister’s footsteps, she says she knew an early age that she wanted to be involved in Pharmacy.

Coming to Durban from a small town and starting university was a huge adjustment but Ebrahim is determined to face any challenges that arise by working extra hard and focusing on her goals.

Said Kajee: ‘I chose pharmacy because I think it is a really good profession with flexible hours.’ ‘Classes are going well so far. At present we are doing revision and I am enjoying every moment.’

Also following in her sister’s footsteps, Kajee added: ‘I want to work for a government hospital because I feel that is where I will be helping more people and making a huge difference.’


author : Lihle Sosibo and Sinenhlanhla Ngubane
author email : Ngubanes2@ukzn.ac.za

A Successful Instrument Expo Day by Optometry

A Successful Instrument Expo Day by Optometry
Students discussing instruments and prices with dealers at the Optometry Instruments Expo Day.

The Discipline of Optometry at the University of KwaZulu-Natal held a successful Instrument Day for their first, second and third year students at the Westville campus recently. ‘The main objective of this event is to invite optical companies to showcase their instruments especially those required by Optometry students.  Some students don’t know where to source necessities like an ophthalmic instrument set.  As a Discipline we have been hosting such exhibitions annually to facilitate the process of instrument acquisition for students.’ said Ms Naimah Ebrahim Khan, a Lecturer in the Discipline of Optometry. Most optometry students buy the essential equipment in second year and then add onto their set in stages as they progress to their final year.

Several optical companies showcased their ranges and instrument kits to students which gave students an opportunity to view an array of instruments and engage directly with the instrument suppliers.  Students also enjoyed demonstrations where the functionality of these instruments was explained to students.

Thembinkosi Mthiyane, a second-year student in Optometry shared that normally, these instruments are very expensive and unaffordable at times but he is happy about this exhibition because it gives instrument companies price competition resulting in discounted rates for instruments kits, because students are able to engage with and negotiate with the suppliers.

‘One thing I like about this instrument fair is that I get to save travelling expenses to town, I have been saved the burden to go searching for suppliers that I don’t even know where they are situated.  This exhibition brings every instrument I need to me at discounted student rates’, said Sphesihle Ntuli, a second year student in Optometry. 


author : Lihle Sosibo
author email : sosibo@ukzn.ac.za