LiDAR Calibration Lights Up Durban Skies

LiDAR Calibration Lights Up Durban Skies
(Left): the LiDAR laser beam in the process of calibration. (Right) With an LiDAR system are (from left): UKZN’s Mr Ameeth Sharma, Professor Sivakumar Venkataraman, Ms Priyanka Singh, Dr Barbara Duigan, Ms Constance Mphula, Ms Senamile Sithole, and Dr Ruchith R Devaki.

Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) equipment in the School of Chemistry and Physics (SCP) on UKZN’s Westville campus was recently calibrated as part of an experiment to operate all three LiDARs simultaneously and interpret their performance.

The LiDARs were the fixed and portable UKZN ones as well as the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) National Laser Centre (NLC) mobile LiDAR.

According to Professor Sivakumar Venkataraman, the system was calibrated for the lower atmosphere up to a 30km-40km range.  Initial results show all three LiDARs are in agreement in terms of their detection of atmospheric features and locations.

The equipment, one of only two LiDAR systems in the country, assists research into remote sensing techniques and atmospheric pollution measurements conducted by the Atmospheric Research Group in the SCP, and is calibrated when necessary. The latest calibration came after refurbishment of the equipment, which was moved to the Westville campus from Howard College eight years ago.

According to Venkataraman, calibration of this nature ideally takes place at night in a clear atmosphere to avoid external light interference to the laser backscattering. The calibration was conducted over five days in early September, with result accuracy varying according to signal-to-noise ratio (SNR).

Running of the equipment is facilitated by National Research Foundation (NRF) research grants, UKZN funding and the Rental Pool Project (RPP) of the Department of Science and Technology-funded (DST) CSIR-NLC. One LiDAR system was donated to UKZN from the Université de la Réunion through a Memorandum of Understanding.

UKZN’s fixed LiDAR conducts daily observations for understanding the aerosol and cloud structure over Durban. Aerosol measurements indicate atmospheric pollution levels.

UKZN’s portable LiDAR has scanning capability and is used for studying pollution dispersion and bio-mass burning evolutions in the atmosphere (eg farmers’ burning of agricultural land for re-cultivation). The group is also involved in joint collaborative research with Algeria, which involves the building of a system for forest fire detection, with two masters and three PhD students conducting research on this subject.

The CSIR-NLC LiDAR was built under Venkataraman’s leadership and is now part of an agreement for transmitting the system to the University of Zululand (UniZulu).

In future, there could be joint observations between UKZN and UniZulu for addressing the aerosol/pollution transport between their two regions.

author : Christine Cuénod
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UKZN Microplastics Research Featured on Carte Blanche

UKZN Microplastics Research Featured on Carte Blanche
From left: Ms Kaveera Singh, Mr Sipho Mkhize, Ms Gemma Gerber, Mr Mathew Coote, Dr Deborah Robertson-Andersson and Dr Gan Moodley.

UKZN’s Marine Biology, Aquaculture, Conservation Education and Ecophysiology (MACE) Laboratory was featured in a recent episode of the TV show Carte Blanche which highlighted microplastics and the danger they pose to marine life.

MACE is headed up by Dr Deborah Robertson-Andersson and Mr Gan Moodley of the School of Life Sciences, who supervise the projects of postgraduate students in their lab.

The TV segment explained what microplastics are and dealt with the dire effects of microplastic contamination, revealing that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than marine life, affecting up to 90% of sea birds.

Plastics, widely used without long-term consideration of impact; take hundreds of years to degrade and are washed out to sea where they collect in five major gyres worldwide, one of which covers an area larger than South Africa and in places is more than three metres deep.

Marine life cannot distinguish between plastic and food, consuming the plastic and then starving to death.

Microplastic (particles smaller than 5mm long) are either manufactured to this size (primary), or broken down from larger plastics (secondary). They are too small to be filtered at sewage plants, flowing into rivers and ultimately the ocean.

MACE researchers have found that 30% of fish they study contain microplastics. All 16 species under analysis had microplastics in their guts, irrespective of where they feed in the water column.

Microplastics, found in beauty and household products and synthetic fibres released from clothing in washing cycles, have been banned in several countries, but not in South Africa.

Moodley explained that microplastic contamination of marine life started with primitive organisms at the base of the food chain - the effects were multiplied up the food chain as contaminants accumulated, affecting development and fertility of larger predators. Microplastics both release and absorb dangerous chemical pollutants from the surrounding water, making them up to one million times more toxic than the surrounding water.

The TV feature touched on the research of postgraduate students Mr Sipho Mkhize, Ms Kaveera Singh, Ms Gemma Gerber and Mr Mathew Coote. In the video, Mkhize dissected a fish caught in the Durban harbour, demonstrating the extent of the microplastics in its stomach, Singh discussed finding nylon clothing fibres in the Umgeni River, and Gerber spoke about the impact of microplastics on mussels, an important local food source.

Fish, including those contaminated, are a major food source for many South Africans. A CSIR research project featured on the programme recommended less than five fish meals from affected systems per person per month to avoid adverse health effects.

Despite the challenges, Robertson-Andersson is positive. ‘Twenty years ago, we had things like glass and tin cans and plastic bottles on the beaches,’ she said. ‘With programmes such as Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, people have become more aware of their plastic products. We can do something about it, but it’s up to each individual person, rather than big organisations.’

Moodley, Robertson-Andersson and their students are involved in many beach clean-up events, collecting data and partnering with Durban Umgeni Conservation Trust (DUCT) and Paddle for the Planet to clean up river systems and remove plastic waste before it reaches the ocean.

‘We have only one planet we call home and we all need to do our little bit to keep it healthy, clean and sustainable,’ said Moodley. ‘We encourage individuals and organisations to join us in these clean-up activities to ensure that we DO make a difference.’

View video:

-Video courtesy of

author : Christine Cuénod
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Academic Receives Award for Developing and Promoting isiZulu in SA

Academic Receives Award for Developing  and Promoting isiZulu in SA
Dr Gugulethu Mazibuko with her award for developing and promoting isiZulu in South Africa.

UKZN academic in the School of Arts Dr Gugulethu Mazibuko has been recognised and honoured with an award by the National Library of South Africa in Cape Town for being a ‘phenomenal woman in developing and promoting isiZulu in the country’.

Said Mazibuko: ‘To me it shows that there is indeed a bright beckoning light at the end of this once very dark tunnel of developing African languages. It has been very hard for books written in African languages to be published and African languages are undermined and considered to be inferior to European languages.’

It was, however, the love of isiZulu that made Mazibuko decide to preserve, develop and promote isiZulu. She realised that for any language to be developed, there had to be enough literature. Her journey of writing started in 2000 while working for the Department of Education where, together with colleagues, she wrote three grammar books titled Kuyasa.

In 2005, Mazibuko contributed short stories in a first isiZulu anthology written by women only titled Wathint’ Imbokode. ‘A remarkable feature in this anthology is that stories touch on things that can only be best expressed by women. You also get women’s objective perspectives on various topical issues such as abuse in its various manifestations,’ she said.

At the Department of Arts and Culture, Mazibuko was involved in the training of budding authors in literature as she believes outreach programmes are vital in unearthing and nurturing new talent. She then edited the first isiZulu short story anthology written by inmates from the KZN Correctional Centres titled Umuntu Akalahlwa. She also edited another anthology Isililo, written by youth from the deep rural areas of KwaZulu-Natal.

As an academic since 2000, Mazibuko has done research on the development of isiZulu literature which has led to the publication of an article in the Current Writing Journal and a chapter in a book titled SA Lit Beyond 2000. As a female author she has also done research on tracing back isiZulu books written by women and realised that there is a huge gap between male and female authors.

She is involved in the UKZN Language Planning and Development Office project of developing budding authors and is working with reading and writing clubs while also participating in various national and provincial committees for the development of isiZulu.

Mazibuko is currently editing the first isiZulu academic book in the field of Onomastics titled Ubuciko Bokwethiwa Kwamagama. ‘It is my wish to see more academic books written in isiZulu as a way of implementing the Bilingual Language Policy of the University,’ she said.

Acting Dean and Head of the School of Arts Professor Donal McCracken added, ‘Dr Mazibuko is to be congratulated on receiving this prestigious award in a key area of development in the humanities. isiZulu is fundamental to the path we are treading in creating a university aligned to the realities of our society. In this endeavour we are a university leader. Such an award reaffirms us in this pursuit.’

author : Melissa Mungroo
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UKZN GSB&L among Top Five Business Schools in SA

UKZN GSB&L among Top Five Business Schools in SA
GSB&L ranked among the top five in South Africa, according to the Professional Market Research (PMR) annual survey.

The Graduate School of Business and Leadership is ranked among the top five in South Africa, according to the Professional Market Research (PMR) annual survey of Accredited Business Schools in the country.

UKZN scored 7.66 out of 10 putting it in fifth place, one up from last year.

The survey respondents (employers) rated the MBA graduates and students in the workplace representing accredited Business Schools in 19 attributes/criteria including academic knowledge, application of knowledge in the workplace and entrepreneurial skills, capacity and abilities.

GSB&L’s Dean and Head Professor Theuns Pelser said the PMR rankings needed to be taken seriously as they reflected the quality of the MBA that a business school offered and were a reliable barometer of which schools were held in high esteem. 

‘I would like to take the opportunity to thank my staff  - academic as well as support - for their commitment and camaraderie in helping us reach this position,’ said Pelser. ‘Many challenges persist but with the visionary impetus of senior management and the support from various stakeholders, the GSB&L will be able to pull its own weight in this very competitive market.’ 

author : NdabaOnline
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Incwadi Entsha Yomcwaningi Wase-UKZN

Incwadi Entsha Yomcwaningi Wase-UKZN
Incwadi entsha yomcwaningi uDokotela Shamim Bodhanya.

Click here for the English version

Incwadi yomcwaningi weSikole SezeZiqu ZamaBhizinisi NobuHoli uDkt Shamim Bodhanya enesihloko esithi :Large Scale Systemic Change, Theories, Modelling and Practices, isebenzisa ucwaningo lwemikhakha ehlukene ukuze ikhiphe izixazululo zezinkinga ezibucayi ezikhungethe abantu nemiphakathi.

Le ncwadi iwumsebenzi wozokufunda owumphumela wokubuyekezwa okunzulu okwenziwe yiqembu elihloniphekile lezifundiswa zomhlaba.  Inemibhalo kaSolwazi Kriben Pillay oyiDini yezokuFunda NokuFundisa eKolishi Lezifundo ZoMthetho NezokuPhatha, Isifundiswa uDkt Cecil Gerwel Proches wase-GSB&L, Abacwaningi oDkt Stanley Hardman noDkt Robert Taylor kanye noMnu Vishal Sharma beno Dkt Nikita Singh abasanda kuthola iziqu.

Ingxenye yokuqala okuhlanganisa ithiyori nenjulalwazi yezindlela zokucabanga kanye nokungaba yimiphumela yokuqonda lokhu uma kwenziwa ucwaningo kanye nezinto eziphathelene nenqubonhle kwezoguquko.

Ingxenye yesibili ikhombisa incazelo ngokwezindlela ezihlukene zokwenza izinto, okuhlanganisa izindlela zokungenelela, uhlelomufanekiso lwezindlela ezingasebenza, nezindlela zokwenza ezigxile oguqukweni nokuthuthukiswa kwenhlangano ngokubanjwa kweqhaza. 

Ingxenye yesithathu ikhombisa ukusetshenziswa kwezindlela kusebenza nokucabanga okujulile kwezobuholi, amasu nokuthuthukiswa komnotho wasekhaya kanti Ingxenye Yesine ikhombisa incazelo ngezinhlobo zokwakha imifanekisozindlela , okuhlanganisa nokwakha imidwebo yazo, ukwakha kususelwa kuma-ajenti kanye nokwakha kusetshenziswa ukuguquguquka kwendlelakwenza. 

‘Le ncwadi ibhekiswe kubantu abafundile, abacwaningi, nabafundi abaneziqu abafisa ukusebenzisa lezizindlela ekuthuthukiseni izinhlangano nanoma yikuphi lapho kudingeka uguquko olukhulu,’ kusho uBodhanya. ‘Abaphathi abakhulu, nabasebenzi bazoyithola iwusizo uma bekhuluma ngekhono labo lobuholi namasu okuthuthukisa nokulondoloza inhlangano nezinga layo lokuqhudelana nezinye.’

U-Bodhanya uthe incwadi izoheha futhi nakubantu bomkhakha kahulumeni, ama-NGO, namalungu omphakathi ngoba izobacija ngezindlela zokubamba iqhaza emisebenzini ephokophelele ekuthuthukisweni komphakathi.

‘Abasebenza ngokuthuthukiswa kwezinhlangano bazohlomula ezindleleni zokwenza ohlangothini lokuhlela nokusebenzisa uhlelokwenza oluthinta inhlangano yonke. Okokugcina, isebenza njengencwadi eyisisekelo kubafundi bomkhakha wezokulawula, ezobuholi ezokwakhiwa kwamasu nokuthuthukiswa kwezinhlangano,’ kusho u-Bhodanya

author : Thandiwe Jumo
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#Fallism and Decolonial Agency Discussion at UKZN

#Fallism and Decolonial Agency Discussion at UKZN
Mr Josh Platzky Miller discussing #Fallism and decolonial agency.

The Paulo Freire project of the Centre for Adult Education in the School of Education recently hosted a seminar by a Cambridge University PhD student on #Fallism and Decolonial Agency: Thoughts on Contemporary Student-led Movements in South Africa.

This was followed by a panel discussion on the topic, offered as a class in this year’s Trade School PMB.   

Speaking at the seminar, the student, Mr Josh Platzky Miller, said, ‘The #Fallist movements, most notably #FeesMustFall, are reshaping the political landscape of Higher Education in South Africa, and have influenced society more broadly. There are a number of important features within these movements which point towards reimagined systems of education, with broader political-economic resonances.

‘Perhaps most significantly, the movements can themselves be spaces of teaching and learning, and enable those that take part in them to overcome senses of alienation, marginalisation and exclusion,’ he said.

As a way to draw on Fanonian thought to understand the movements’ relationships with social and epistemic rupture, the seminar focused on international solidarity efforts, considerations about student psychological impacts and possibilities, why the perceived fragmentation of the movements might be beneficial and how movements might learn historically or comparatively to use Assemblage Theory to understand the movements themselves.

Having been involved in preliminary attempts at solidarity work with various student movements, including #FeesMustFall, and his interest in learning more about how to help those in educational struggles, Platzky Miller’s work focuses on how education is contested by counter-hegemonic political movements in times of social rupture.

Following the Platzky Miller’s seminar, a panel of three students from UKZN, the University of Cape Town and Rhodes University shared their stories and reflections on #FeesMustFall.

The panellists argued that a lot had transpired since the #FeesMustFall movement officially began in 2015. Most importantly, students were still not satisfied with the outcomes, particularly relating to access to education. At the same time, other important issues, such as institutional culture and the quality of education in South African institutions of higher learning, (re)emerged from this movement.

Attended by about 25 students and staff, the panel discussion actively allowed for an engagement with the panellists’ knowledge, stories and reflections regarding the topic, leading to an in-depth discussion on knowledge, experiences and views about the issue.

author : Melissa Mungroo
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Haughton Award Presented to a UKZN Geology Student for Second Year Running

Haughton Award Presented to a UKZN Geology Student for Second Year Running
Mr Kreesan Palan with his award.

For the second consecutive year, a Geological Sciences Honours graduate from the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences (SAEES) at UKZN has been awarded the prestigious Haughton Award from the Geological Society of South Africa (GSSA).

This year Mr Kreesan Palan won the award in recognition of his 2015 Honours thesis, deemed to be of exceptional merit by adjudicators from the Fellows Committee and the Council of the GSSA.

Palan’s thesis was titled: “Beachrock Facies and Carbonate Cement Variability at Umhlanga Rocks, KwaZulu-Natal”, in which he aimed to account for the variability of beachrock units at a locality in Umhlanga, and to examine the controls that exist on beachrock formation, destruction and preservation.

According to Palan, results from this study assist in the understanding of the relationship of beach rocks to sea level, through detailing sedimentological observations of the rocks at the bed-set scale, combined with microscopic and geochemical analyses.

He said he felt honoured to receive the award and join a long list of UKZN Geology graduates before him.

Palan, who is now pursuing his Master’s degree in Geology at UKZN under the supervision of Professor Andrew Green, says his choice of subject was inspired by a lifelong spirit of curiosity about the natural world and a love of the outdoors. He hopes to pursue a career in Geology after completing his degree, using the skills UKZN has furnished him with.

Palan says he feels privileged to have studied under the guidance of academics such as Professor Mike Watkeys and Professor Steve McCourt, saying his education has left him well-prepared for life as a geologist. He thanked Professor Green for the encouragement to think outside the box.

author : Christine Cuénod
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Siyanqoba UKZN Maths Stars Shine

Siyanqoba UKZN Maths Stars Shine
UKZN’s Siyanqoba Junior Maths A Team was placed third out of 45 teams in the national South African Mathematics Foundation (SAMF) competition.

UKZN’s Siyanqoba Maths teams held a highly successful competition event recently with the Junior A team finishing third out of 45 teams nationally.

The competition was run under the auspices of the South African Mathematics Foundation (SAMF).

Since 2011, the Siyanqoba programme, the brainchild of UKZN Emeritus Professor Poobhalan Pillay, has assisted high school students in achieving success in the South African Mathematics Olympiads (SAMO). ‘Hundreds of learners have benefited from the programme,’ said Pillay.

This year, the programme placed two junior learners among the top 10 in the country.

During the competition, top UKZN student and former Siyanqoba participant, Mr Dalian Sunder, gave an interesting talk on geometrical constructions; whilst fellow student Mr Nashlen Govindasamy put on a brilliant display of simultaneous chess, playing 10 learners at once (some of whom represent KwaZulu-Natal), and beating them all.   Govindasamy is currently ranked sixth nationally in chess.

Pillay thanked the various people involved in making the competition a success, including the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science, the Actuarial Society of South Africa, Casio, SAMF, and lecturers and coaches from the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science.

Dean and Head of the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science, Professor Delia North, said Pillay deserved the most thanks for his tireless efforts to promote excellence in Mathematics among school goers, describing him as ‘a legend in our midst’.

Pillay is the 2016 recipient of SAMF Honorary Award which will be presented to him this Saturday for his efforts in developing, promoting and strengthening the SAMF Olympiad programmes in South Africa over many years.

author : Sally Frost
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Article by HEARD Executive Director published in The Lancet

Article by HEARD Executive Director published in The Lancet
HEARD Executive Director Professor Nana Poku.

Chair and Executive Director of the Health Economics and HIV and AIDS Research Division (HEARD), Professor Nana Poku, has been published in the The Lancet.

Widely considered to be among the most well established and prestigious publications in the world, The Lancet is a weekly peer-reviewed medical journal which publishes various outputs on human health and their impacts on the health sector.

The impact factor, which measures the success of a journal by how frequently it has been cited, shows that The Lancet is one of the most well cited and read in the field.

The article by Poku, featured under the comment section of the journal, is titled: ‘UN political declaration on HIV and AIDS: where to begin?’ .  It appears in Volume 388, No. 10046 of the journal.

The article addresses the United Nations (UN) political declaration to commit to ending AIDS by the year 2030, which endorses The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) fast- track approach. While questioning the viability of the approach meeting its target, Poku provides critical commentary in the article in which he remarks on the various challenges the 2030 strategy faces.

One such challenge is the uncertainty of funding in the current global geo-political environment which has led to donors falling away.  Poku, however, mentions solutions to the problem which do not create a dependency on increased fiscal measures. His sentiments are the resounding echo of the representatives of African nations present at the recent global AIDS Conference (AIDS 2016), in which they mentioned the burden of drawing from the fiscus, away from other pressuring costs to fund the response.

Another challenge the representatives faced was finding international donor funding from wealthier nations who had stretched their budgets to other health, political and social responses. The result of the debate was for Africa to look within.

Poku contextualises the solutions presented from the declaration, the 2016 Conference and from his daily effort towards advancing health equity.

One of the solutions mentioned is HIV prevention; which if implemented more efficiently would result in fewer cases, and in turn, less cost. Another, Universal Health Coverage (UHC), is a model system of healthcare in which all citizens of a country gain access to proper health services without the burden of financial constraints. Poku uses this model in his argument and calls for its implementation in the strengthening of health systems.

Lastly, Poku mentions the importance of access to essential medicines for HIV and AIDS response, which he notes is threatened by trade and intellectual property regulations. This likely medicine insecurity would result in millions being unable to access affordable live-saving treatment thus contributing further to a concentrated health crisis.

Poku concludes by saying the strategic conditions surrounding the AIDS response are predicted to worsen. He urges stakeholders to rethink the current dominant strategy, noting that it is politics that enable the programmatic response and notes that ‘shoring up the progress of the past 15 years and making advances in the critical areas need not and cannot wait’.

author : Thomais Armaos
author email :

Master of Laws Graduate Runner-up in Law Reform Essay Contest

Master of Laws Graduate Runner-up in Law Reform Essay Contest
Mr Sibusiso Mbutho accepting his prize at the recent Ismail Mahomed Law Reform Essay Competition Awards Ceremony held in Johannesburg.

An essay by Masters of Law graduate Mr Sibusiso Mbutho has won second place in the 2015 Ismail Mahomed Law Reform Essay Competition.

Mbutho’s entry was titled: “The Judicial Test for Defensible Affirmative Action Measures: A Critique of the Rationality Standard of Judicial Review”.

The competition, named in honour of the late Chief Justice and former Chairperson of the South African Law Reform Commission, encourages critical legal writing by students, while generating new ideas for law reform. It calls for submissions in the LLB and LLM categories that relate to modernisation, improvement, development or reform of any aspect, area or branch of South African law.

Mbutho’s essay, a section of his research for his master’s degree which he received in April, critiques the rationality standard as a judicial standard of review for defensible affirmative action measures against a background of achieving equality in South Africa which flows from the founding values of the Constitution and a right in the Bill of Rights.

‘My research deals with serious issues - the achievement of equality and the challenges encountered there from - which are in the public interest.  I saw the competition as a big opportunity to reward myself for the huge effort I put into my masters dissertation. I take pride in that it was the first time I entered the competition and I received second prize,’ said Mbutho.

Mbutho, an attorney of the High Court of South Africa but currently employed as a Law Researcher at the Constitutional Court, says pursuing the postgrad studies had a significant impact in widening his passion for a career in Law as a young scholar and academic.

‘My goal is to champion the advancement of human rights through human rights education, the achievement of equality and to address social justice key issues, among other things. I aim to become a judge someday but I still look towards studying further and investing in my knowledge,’ he said.

author : Thandiwe Jumo
author email :

UKZN Audiology Students organise Deaf Awareness Day

UKZN Audiology Students organise Deaf Awareness Day
Deaf awareness day.

Coedmore Primary School pupils attended a deaf awareness day hosted by fourth year Audiology students from the College of Health Sciences at the KwaVulindlebe School for the Deaf  in Chatsworth, Durban.

The students managed to establish some level of integration between the two groups of children through music, dance and drama.

‘Our plan was to contribute to deaf awareness,’ said fourth year student, Ms Suraksha Inarman.

Audiology is a health care profession concerned with the scientific study and practice of both normal and disordered hearing.

The aim of the event was to show normal hearing children that deaf children have the same abilities, talents and goals in life - the difference is in the mode of communication used.

The Audiology students planned an exceptional fun day for the youngsters who were encouraged to enter a competition showcasing their various talents.

There were ethnic dance groups, singing, poetry and drama which earned the participants prizes donated by the students.  All the pupils got goodie bags and lunch was provided.

The Audiology students managed to make every pupil who was present on the day feel loved and appreciated by preaching a message of love and acceptance.

UKZN’s first profoundly deaf (requires an interpreter all the time) student, Ms Voloshni Govender, was the guest speaker and she encouraged the pupils not to give up on their dreams just because they were deaf.  She motivated them by sharing her story and how she was doing exceptionally well in her studies

Sponsors of the day were Jolly Meats, Desai Meats, Tongaat Hulett, Voermol, Engen, Widex, KwaDukuza Road Safety, Spar, Glee Music Academy and the families of the Audiology students.

‘We are very grateful to everyone who assisted us in making the day a successful event,’ said Inarman.

author : Sinenhlanhla Ngubane
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UKZN to host Decolonising Shakespeare Theatre Festival and Colloquium

UKZN to host Decolonising Shakespeare Theatre Festival and Colloquium
UKZN hosts the highly anticipated SHAKESPEAREmustFALL? Theatre Festival featuring student actors from UKZN, DUT and AFDA.

UKZN’s Drama and Performance Studies Discipline within the College of Humanities is hosting the highly anticipated SHAKESPEAREmustFALL? Theatre Festival which started on 20 September and continues until 2 October at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre.

The Festival will also host a colloquium featuring keynote addresses by theatre and performance art stalwarts Welcome Msomi and Chris Thurman from 30 September to 1 October at Studio 5 on the Howard College campus.

This event is part of the broader Decolonising Shakespeare? Contestations and Re-imaginings for a Post-Liberation South Africa, coinciding with the global commemorations of the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death.

The two-week student Theatre Festival highlights the work of young and emerging artists in KwaZulu-Natal, providing a space for student work to be showcased and celebrated.

Featuring productions from UKZN (Howard College), the Durban University of Technology (DUT) and AFDA Durban, the Festival seeks to engage with Shakespeare in a way that reflects the impact and presence of his plays in the contemporary South African context, particularly for young people.

‘Shakespeare, after all, wrote his plays to be performed and, while the politics of Shakespeare may be contentious, his works remain the most performed plays in the world,’ said UKZN Lecturer and Festival Director, Ms Tamar Meskin.

‘We want to find ways to (re)explore and (re)imagine those works in our “decolonised” space. What is also certain is that his works offer a potentially unique perspective on the world we live in today.  This Theatre Festival also explores that perspective in our unique South African context.’

Meskin said there was a long and storied tradition of Shakespeare at UKZN. One of the most important of those stories is Welcome Msomi’s groundbreaking Umabatha, first staged in 1970 at the Open Air Theatre, marking the first presentation in South Africa of an isiZulu version of a full-scale Shakespearean production.

Umabatha went on to play to a global audience, has since been published and is recognised as the seminal beginning point of Africa’s engagement with decolonising Shakespeare. Since then, Drama and Performance Studies have continued to engage with the work of perhaps the most contentious playwright in the history of English theatre,’ said Meskin.

Msomi will deliver the keynote address on 30 September, made possible through support from the Department of Arts and Culture and the Living Legends Legacy Project.

Between 2001 and 2010, UKZN has presented an annual Shakespeare Festival, attracting more than 9 000 school learners to see productions ranging from A Midsummer Night’s Dream to Romeo and Juliet to Twelfth Night and The Winter’s Tale. 

‘The goal in each production was to make Shakespeare accessible for a multicultural, young, and uniquely South African audience. Whether it was a tokoloshe Puck, a gangster Romeo, a Jimi Hendrix Orsino, a hip-hop Oberon, or a football fan Dromio, the emphasis in all of the productions was to explore what gives Shakespeare’s works their theatrical magic,’ said Meskin.

This year’s UKZN production, titled The Past is Prologue, is taken from The Tempest and is ambiguous: it offers both the potential to abandon the past in favour of the glorious future waiting ahead, but also may point to the importance of the past in shaping both the present and future. 

‘The production plays with this ambiguity in seeking to “decolonise” Shakespeare by reinscribing his works with newly imagined meanings, viewed through newly-created lenses, which can speak to the ethos of our time,’ added Meskin.

#SHAKESPEAREmustFall? runs from 20 September – 2 October at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre with performances starting at 18h30. Tickets are R40 for adults, and R20 for scholars, students and block bookings over 10. 

Tickets may be reserved through Claudette Wagner at phone (031) 26 -3133 or email: They are also available at the door an hour before the performance.



DUT: Much Ado About Nothing                                                                      

Directed by Debbie Lutge

Thursday 22nd September @ 18h30

Friday 23rd September @ 18h30

Saturday 24th September @ 18h30


AFDA: Shakespeare’s Women – The Space Between

Written by Janet van Eeden

Directed by Clinton Marius


Monday 26th September @ 18h30

Tuesday 27th September @ 18h30


UKZN – HOWARD COLLEGEThe Past is Prologue

Devised by Tamar Meskin, with Kamini Govender, Devaksha Moodley, and Donna Steel

Directed by Tamar Meskin


Friday 30th September @ 18h30

Saturday 1st October @ 18h30

Sunday 2nd October @ 15h00

author : Melissa Mungroo
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Class on Basics of Birding and Bird Ringing

Class on Basics of Birding and Bird Ringing
UKZN masters candidate Ms Keeveshnee Govender with a bird during the Trade School class.

As part of the Trade School run at UKZN in August and early September, research assistant in the School of Life Sciences, Ms Preshnee Singh, and Senior Technician, Mr Ebrahim Ally, ran a class introducing participants to the basics of birding and bird ringing.

A 6am start on a Saturday morning saw participants gather at the Darvill Sewerage Works on New England Road for the class, which was offered in response to interest from participants eager to learn about birding.

The class was a part of an initiative that encourages the use of a barter system to facilitate the transfer of knowledge in exchange for goods or services that the instructors deemed valuable. For this class, instructors requested items such as empty egg boxes, disposable plastic containers, cardboard rolls and more for enrichment for laboratory animals - mainly rats, mice and hamsters housed at the University.

According to the organisers, the Darvill conservancy has a variety of habitats with an amazing diversity of birdlife. Southern Africa boasts more than 800 bird species, of which 150 are endemic. Singh and Ally, who hope that the experience will encourage participants to embark on birding as a hobby, taught basics from binocular use to identification using field guides.

‘Birds are the easiest animals for people to spot in their everyday lives,’ said Singh. ‘With South Africa’s wonderful variety you can bird almost anywhere outdoors, including your garden.

‘By promoting birding we can create an appreciation of our South African biodiversity which will help people to understand and care about conservation issues.’

Singh described the class as a great opportunity for the instructors to share their knowledge with the public and inspire people who they may otherwise not interact with.

Singh and Ally both work with many different types of animals on various research projects, teaching and training students about issues such as animal handling, trapping, identification, research planning, and data analysis, to enable excellent research in biology.

The two, along with Ms Karin Nelson, conduct bird ringing at Darvill at least once a month, and interested birders are welcome to attend and observe. Contact Ally on to be added to the mailing list for Darvill updates.

author : Christine Cuénod
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OT Lecturer Appointed International Medical Classifier for SA Disability Bowls

OT Lecturer Appointed International Medical Classifier for SA Disability Bowls
Ms June Mcintyre.

UKZN Occupational Therapy lecturer Ms June McIntyre has been appointed the International Medical Classifier for physically disabled lawn bowls in Africa.

McIntyre is currently the only trained international medical classifier for disability bowls in Africa.

‘This is a huge responsibility as all athletes with a physical disability have to be correctly classified prior to international competitions,’ said McIntyre.

‘It is exciting as the sport is gaining many followers among all ages and people with disabilities, who are able to compete on an equal footing with able bodied players.’

Medical classifiers for lawn bowls have to be either an occupational therapist, physiotherapist or a medical practitioner with special knowledge about disability. The medical classifiers are responsible for the bench tests which then determine if an athlete meets the criteria to be a disabled athlete for that sporting code.

Classification in sport for the disabled is done in different classification groups as well as through a sport specific system, which aims to make the competition as fair as possible for all competitors.

According to McIntyre the classification goal is to create a ‘level playing field. The different classification groups are athletes with visual disability, intellectual disability and physical disability.’

She said any athlete wanting to be classified for sport for the physically disabled, must have a permanent and irreversible disability.  ‘In the sport specific classification system, a class will usually include a variety of different disabilities.’

McIntyre underwent training in Gauteng with international head classifier, Ms Sheila Corcoran, a Physiotherapist from Australia.

She said the classification of 10 physically disabled bowlers, who were participating in a tournament at the time, formed part of her practical examination.

Bowlers were classified into the classes B5 (who are the most severely disabled) to B8, (the least disabled but still meet the criteria as a disabled bowler ie they have lost a certain number of points in the bench tests).

According to McIntyre, in lawn bowls classes B1 to B4 are for visually impaired bowlers with B1 for the totally blind and B4 those with specific vision loss.  Their assessment is usually done by an optometrist or ophthalmologist, as the amount of vision they have determines their class.

There are currently seven trained international medical and seven technical classifiers to classify lawn bowls athletes for international competition. ‘The aim is to have a medical and technical classifier in each of the bowling regions of the world,’ said McIntyre.

author : Nombuso Dlamini
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Research finds Low Serum Testosterone Levels in Men with Type 2 Diabetes

Research finds Low Serum Testosterone Levels in Men with Type 2 Diabetes
Dr Imran Paruk.

Low serum testosterone (LST) and symptoms of androgen deficiency occur regularly among South African men with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), a study conducted by UKZN’s Dr Imran Paruk has revealed.

Titled: “Prevalence of Low Testosterone Levels in South African Men With Type 2 Diabetes Attending an Outpatient Diabetes Clinic”, the study aimed to determine the prevalence of LST and its association with metabolic parameters among men over the age of 18 with T2DM  attending outpatient diabetes clinics at Prince Mshiyeni Hospital and Inkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital in Durban.

Paruk recently presented his cross-sectional observational study at the College of Health Sciences’ Annual Research Symposium.

‘Testosterone is an important hormone in men required for maintaining good health and sexual function,’ said Paruk. ‘Deficiency can have consequences such as low libido, low mood, loss of erections and significantly impair quality of life.’

Paruk screened diabetic men for symptoms of testosterone deficiency and also measured testosterone levels. ‘75 % of the diabetic men were noted to have symptoms of androgen deficiency and low testosterone was found in 17%,’ said Paruk.

Patients completed a self-administered questionnaire (Ageing Male’s Symptom Scale) which was available in English and isiZulu. Morning testosterone, leutenizing hormone, and sex-hormone binding globulin were measured along with lipids and HbA1c.

LST was defined as a calculated free-testosterone level below the reference range. ‘Control subjects were sourced from non-diabetic male employees working at the hospital. As expected, free-testosterone levels declined with age and an inverse correlation between age and free-testosterone was noted,’ explained Paruk.

The results showed a high prevalence of LST seen in 17% of men and a high frequency of androgen deficiency symptoms noted in 75% of men.

He said symptoms were also prevalent in diabetic men under the age of 40 years where a prevalence of 38% was found, ‘Men with T2DM had a significantly lower total and free-testosterone compared to control subjects. LST was associated with higher waist circumference. However, there was no association with symptoms of androgen deficiency or metabolic profile including HbA1c and serum lipids.’

Paruk identified an inverse correlation between total testosterone and waist circumference, body mass index and serum triglycerides. ‘The findings of this study are consistent with that seen elsewhere in the world and highlight the need for more local research in this area,’ said Paruk.

His study recommends that an enquiry into the symptoms of androgen deficiency be considered for all men with diabetes since the prevalence was high. ‘This can be done easily with a standard questionnaire before entering the doctor’s room.’

According to Paruk, health care practitioners treating men with diabetes should be aware of the high prevalence of low serum testosterone levels in this population and test in the appropriate circumstances such as when the patient has signs and symptoms consistent with androgen deficiency.

Paruk is currently working on his PhD research titled: “The effects of Metabolic Surgery in South African Patients”. ‘It will hopefully provide valuable data on the experiences locally,’ he said.

author : Nombuso Dlamini
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Centre for Civil Society Welcomes Community Scholars

Centre for Civil Society Welcomes Community Scholars
CCS Community Scholars Mr Thabane Miya, Ms Bandy Mdlalose and Mr Daniel Byamungu Dunia.

UKZN’s Centre for Civil Society (CCS), housed within the College of Humanities, recently welcomed three hardworking community scholars as part of the Centre’s effort to educate and uplift communities to make a difference in society and uphold the fires of activism.

The scholars - Mr Thabane Miya, Ms Bandy Mdlalose and Mr Daniel Byamungu Dunia  - form part of the CCS Community Scholarship Initiative (the Dennis Brutus Initiative) that focuses on participation from members of civil society organisations and movements in Durban to allow for exchanges between CCS academics and researchers and local civil society organisations.

This initiative ensures that theoretical understandings of the concept “civil society” are underpinned by practical experiences and that civil society organisations linked with the CCS have an opportunity to participate in evolving formulations of theories on civil society and use them in their own environments.

All three scholars have their roots in community-upliftment and human rights activism, and see their efforts as a “calling”.

Miya, who is currently involved in youth development and the housing struggle of women who are single parents in Mobeni Heights, described being a community scholar as an honour. ‘The Centre recognises the practical work that is being done by activists in communities but there is still the need to close the gap between the university narratives and practical work,’ he said.

KwaMashu resident and activist Mdlalose, has had her fair share of being the target of death threats, intimidation and violence; particularly for her work in Gender and LGBTI issues, xenophobia and environmental matters. ‘I understand the plight of people and I will continue to work to help them. Passion allows me to rise above the negativity and criticism because I know I am fighting for a just cause,’ she said.

Dunia of Isipingo is involved in social cohesion and the integration process of refugees and asylum seekers. He trains government officials and communities on refugees and asylum seeker rights and is involved in advocacy of the green paper for international migration.

This is his advice to other activists and community scholars: ‘Our work is hard. We are often viewed as criminals for doing what is right. We should develop other ways of activism but at the heart of it all, we should always put the best interests of our community first.’

author : Melissa Mungroo
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Best Poster Presentations Day for Third Year Medical Students

Best Poster Presentations Day for Third Year Medical Students
Members of the top three presentation groups with Public Health HoD Dr Saloshni Naidoo.

Third year Medical students presented the findings of their Selectives 02 research studies at a Research Symposium hosted by the School of Nursing and Public Health Medicine on the Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine campus.

The 246 students, divided into self-selected groups, conducted their research in selective sites which were their ‘home communities’. Their research was based on the ‘community diagnosis’ made as part of the four-week Selectives 01 block in second year where students formulated a research question.

A wide array of topics reflecting the burden of diseases in South Africa and focusing on community knowledge and perceptions of health issues were studied and presented at the event.

The research involved surveying 100 participants from the local community after ethics approval from the Biomedical Research Ethics Committee (BREC) and gatekeeper permission from the clinics, municipality and the Provincial Department of Health.

Dr Stephen Knight, Public Health Specialist at UKZN and a member of the Selectives Co-ordinating Team, said: ‘As Medical students return “home” for their Selectives, research is conducted in a range of townships, rural communities and towns and urban communities in order to gain a better understanding of what affects their local communities.’

Knight said eight groups were selected to present on the day, with topics including depression, contraception, diarrhoea prevention, teenage pregnancy and drug abuse knowledge beliefs, urinary tract infection, psychosocial behaviour and adherence to hypertension management.

Health Department representative, Dr Aida Tefera, congratulated the students on their presentations. ‘I am really impressed and I would like to be invited when the students present their interventions.’

Public Health Medicine Specialist and co-ordinator of the event, Dr Saajida Mahomed, said: ‘The students have been through the entire process of writing a research protocol, obtaining BREC approval, conducting the research and preparing a scientific poster.  All groups performed very well under tight deadlines.’

Mahomed acknowledged the important role of all the supervisors, BREC, the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Research and Ethics Committee, eThekwini Municipality Research Ethics Committee, the School of Nursing and Public Health Medicine and the MEPI in supporting the Selectives programme.

Mrs Jonathan was also thanked for her role in ensuring a smooth administrative process of the research.

Paediatric Nephrologist and BREC representative Professor Rajendra Bhimma said he was really impressed by the high quality protocols received from students which BREC had to go through within two weeks.

The top three presentations were:

Group 61, comprising Ms Cheralyn Hewer and Ms Naadhira Saib, who presented on: “Factors Affecting Adherence to Hypertension Management in Urban KZN, June-July 2016”.

Group 76, comprising Ms Jocelynn Norman, Ms Mandi Lategan and Mr Dylan Gouveria, who presented their poster titled: “Knowledge and Perceptions of Depression Among Clinic u=Users in Boksburg, June 2016”.

Group 81, comprising Ms Vuyiseka Vokwana, Ms Neo Makgalo and Ms Realeboga Itumeleng, who presented on: “Young Female Adults’ Knowledge and Perception of Contraceptives in Mamelodi East, Pretoria, 2016”.

author : Nombuso Dlamini
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Resistance Training Can Delay Disease Progression – Study Finding

Resistance Training Can Delay Disease Progression – Study Finding
Dr Takshita Sookan.

Progressive resistance training (PRT) can possibly delay disease progression and together with antiretroviral therapy (ART) decrease inflammation, a study conducted by UKZN Biokineticist Lecturer Dr Takshita Sookan has revealed.

Conducted at Durban’s King Edward VIII Hospital on HIV-infected individuals on ART under the supervision of Professor Andrew McKune, the research proved that a PRT programme can decrease anti-inflammatory and pro-inflammatory cytokines possibly reflecting reduced systemic inflammation in HIV-infected individuals.

Titled: “Resistance Training Reduces the Helper Cytokine Levels but not Cardiometabolic Risk Factors in HIV-Infected Individuals Receiving Antiretroviral Therapy”,  the study aimed to determine the effect of combined resistance training and whey protein on Th1 and Th2 cytokines and cardiometabolic risk in HIV-infected individuals receiving ART.

Recently presented at the College of Health Sciences Annual Research Symposium, the study looked at implementing a sustainable intervention (resistance training and whey protein) to counteract ART side effects.

According to Sookan, since the initiation of ART, patients with HIV have longer life expectancies. However, treatment does not fully restore immune health and consequently, a number of inflammation-associated and/or immunodeficiency complications such as, HIV associated lipodystrophy, cardiovascular disease (CVD) and other metabolic complications are increasing.

‘Cumulative toxicities from exposure to ART causes clinically-relevant metabolic disturbances. There are growing concerns that the wasting and lipodystrophy syndromes associated with the HIV disease may impact healthy aging and could overwhelm some health care systems, particularly those in resource-limited regions that have yet to fully develop a chronic care model,’ said Sookan.

Sookan’s study, a first in the South African context, showed that intervention could not improve insulin resistance in this population but there could be a shift in immune response with this type of exercise that could delay disease progression and inflammation.

‘The goal of this research is to advocate for exercise as medicine and to provide affordable sustainable interventions to decrease the burden on health care systems. Lifestyle interventions can improve the health of the South African population including those who are HIV positive,’ said Sookan.

She recently graduated with a PhD and is working on developing more exercise as medicine protocols for populations with/or at risk of non-communicable diseases and cardiometabolic diseases.

‘I feel lucky to have a platform to be able to conduct work/research that can inform the South African population (and international population) on healthy lifestyles using a scientific basis. I am passionate about this type of work and the impact it can make in our society,’ added Sookan.  

author : Nombuso Dlamini
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UKZN Co-hosts First Workshop in SA to Empower Young Built Environment Specialists

UKZN Co-hosts First Workshop in SA to Empower Young Built Environment Specialists
From left: Mr Eric Aplegren, Professor Piotr Lorens, Dr Hangwelani Magidimisha, Dr Malindi Neluheni, Professor Betty Mubangizi, Professor Urmilla Bob and Mr Lennox Mabaso.

UKZN’s School of Built Environment and Development Studies (BEDS) in partnership with the International Society of City and Regional Planners (ISOCARP) hosted a three-day workshop and a dinner for Young Professional Planners (YPP).

The School organised the YPP component.

Highlighting the success of the workshop – the first to be held in South Africa, the acting Dean and Head of the School, Professor Betty Mubangizi, said, ‘I am particularly pleased that the young local and international planners met and exchanged ideas on topical issues and case studies affecting Durban.

‘The issues included informal settlements; inner-city regeneration; smart cities in the context of an African city; participatory planning and social justice in decision-making. These social concerns not only cover numerous aspects of the Disciplines with the School, but, in fact, speak to South Africa’s National Development Plan (NDP) and Vision 2030,’ said Mubangizi.

UKZN academic and YPP Chairperson, Dr Hangwelani Hope Magidimisha of the Discipline of Town and Regional Planning, believes the workshop brought together ideas that the eThekwini Municipality and the South African government would be able to implement to foster social change and nation building.

‘This is an international event that many young professionals from across the globe attended. They brought with them experience to tackle the challenges that the country as well as the continent face in the built environment,’ said Magidimisha.

ISOCARP Vice-President for the YPP Programme, Professor Piotr Lorens, praised UKZN for co- hosting the workshop saying: ‘I hope that this event will leave a permanent mark on UKZN’s planning programme and will echo with other initiatives of this type in the region.’

During the gala dinner held to welcome participants and major partners of the Conference, Mr Eric Aplegren of the eThekwini Municipality said planners were important for any city, ‘The theme of the conference The Cities we Have vs. the Cities we Need is particularly relevant as it talks to young planners of the future.’

Aplegren and Mr Lennox Mabaso of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) in KwaZulu-Natal commended UKZN for hosting the workshop. Said Mabaso: ‘We recognise the role of UKZN in this conference and we are confident that the exchange of ideas will lead to innovative future developments.’

UKZN Dean of Research Professor Urmilla Bob reflected on the role of planners in line with effective governance and sustainable development. ‘We live in a highly complex environment with a shifting landscape and I’m proud that UKZN co-hosted the workshop to advocate, debate and discuss city to city planning.’

The keynote address at the gala dinner was delivered by Managing Director of TranSpace Technologies and former CEO of the Council for the Built Environment, Dr Malindi Neluheni, who said Young Planning Professionals were responsible for making significant inputs in addressing the nature of environments that urban spaces should become.

‘In South Africa, we have just had local government elections, and have several municipalities setting-up their agenda for serving the various communities. Young planners can pursue various strategies to gain access to the delivery of quality spaces of the future; within the various municipalities,’ she said.

Mubangizi thanked the delegates for coming to UKZN and assured them that the University’s facilities, the team of academics and facilitators put in place would unleash the imagination of the delegates, boost their creative energies and enable them to come up with solutions that respond to the challenges faced by communities in settlements in and around the city.

*The ISOCARP Young Professional Planners workshop was held in partnership with the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, eThekwini Municipality, South African Council for Planners, and the Durban KZN Convention Bureau.

author : Melissa Mungroo
author email :

Socially Engaged Mice Used in Drug Research

Socially Engaged Mice Used in Drug Research
Mr Chris Ajonijebu presenting at the Research Symposium.

A PhD student in the Discipline of Human Physiology in the School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences, Mr Chris Duyilemi Ajonijebu, presented his research findings at the College of Health Sciences’ Annual College Research Symposium.

His thesis was titled: “Characterising Drug Intake in Socially Engaged Mice”.

The Symposium Committee received 124 submissions for presentation at the two-day event but of this number only 100 were accepted - 70 were oral while the remainder were poster presentations.

Ajonijebu of Nigeria graduated in 2008 with a BTech degree in Physiology at the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, and later proceeded to the University of Ibadan where he obtained his MSc in the same field.

He worked as an academic at Afe Babalola University between 2013 and 2015 before coming to South Africa to further his academic career.

His PhD project focuses on drug addiction and epigenetics. Characterising Drug Intake in Socially Engaged Mice focused on developing a mouse model of drug addiction within a social environment in a manner which mirrors the actual condition in humans as opposed to previous models that studied rodents or primates in isolation. ‘We used the Intellicage system which is an automated learning apparatus - also known as “social box” - that allowed spontaneous learning and social interaction among group-housed mice,’ said Ajonijebu

As part of the protocol, each mouse was tagged with a transponder (a device with unique identification code) that enabled individual monitoring of the rodents’ behavioural response to drugs of abuse (alcohol and cocaine) within the testing apparatus. The addictive potential of the preferred drug was later tested by imposing resistance scheduled tasks on the animals. In these tasks, each mouse was expected to learn to make correct pokes at doors in the drug corners to get rewarded. Incorrect nose-pokes or visiting wrong corners were not rewarded.

‘This approach demonstrates drug seeking behaviour observed in human addicts where the drive to obtain drugs often requires developing sophisticated goal directed behaviours to overcome various challenges faced in obtaining drugs. Overall, our model examined drug motivation and preference, loss of control over intake behaviours, withdrawal and relapse propensity,’ said Ajonijebu.

‘Interestingly, this is the first animal model of drug addiction that allowed an extended access to cocaine for more than two months in a drug self-administration paradigm while addiction-like behaviours were assessed according to Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) criteria for substance use disorders,’ he said.

‘Drug addiction is still a global challenge as we speak, therefore the need to provide solutions to this rising human health problem in Africa constitutes my passion for this research.

author : Sinenhlanhla Ngubane
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CHS Research Symposium Attracts International Students

CHS Research Symposium Attracts International Students
International Student at the CHS’s Annual Research Symposium.

Six international students presented at UKZN’s College of Health Sciences’ Annual Research Symposium.

The presenters, all impressed by the standard of the event, were from Kenya, Tanzania and the Ivory Coast. Their attendance was fully sponsored by the National Research Foundation (NRF).

‘The well organised event was highly informative,’ said Ms Isabella Moraa of Kenya. ‘I enjoyed the presentation on the labour pains reducing herb. It was well organised and very good. I will recommend it to my colleagues back home.’

Ms Mary Simwango of Tanzania said: ‘I will tell everyone back home to attend the next one with me,’ while Ivory Coast national Mr Gbalegba Constant said he was impressed by the level of organisation. ‘The only thing missing was a social event after the Symposium,’ he joked.

About 100 oral and poster presentations were delivered by staff and postgraduate students from various Schools, disciplines and affiliated research centres as well as the international students.

Other international presenters were Mr M’bra K Richard from the Ivory Coast and Ms Anibanki Ngonyoka of Tanzania.

The internationals presented on subjects including trypanosomiasis, schitosomiasis, malaria, tsetse flies and rift valley fever.

Moraa’s study titled: “Distribution and Variability of Rift Valley Fever (RVF) and Malaria Vector Species in Baringo County, Kenya”, identified a total of 26 mosquito species comprising four RVF and three malaria vector species in the Baringo Region.

Knowledge on mosquito species distribution and local abundance is vital for effective control of vector borne diseases (VBDs) such as RVF and malaria,’ said Moraa.

Her study investigated the altitudinal distribution and variability of RVF and malaria mosquito vectors in the region.

She surveyed indoor and outdoor mosquitoes monthly between June 2015 and May 2016, using the pyrethrum spray collection method and CDC light traps for indoor and outdoor resting mosquitoes respectively, in four zones based on elevation.

She found that out of 12 204 mosquitoes collected, 49.4% were captured outdoors and 50.6% indoors. Indoor mosquitoes were 80% anophelines and 20% culicines while outdoor resting mosquitoes were 19.4 % anophelines and 80.6% culicines.

According to Moraa, Significant differences were observed in distribution of malaria and RVF vectors across the four zones with the lowland having the highest density of over 80% mosquitoes followed distantly by riverine zone at 15.6% while highlands and midlands had 3.2% and 0.7% respectively.

‘The findings imply greater risk of malaria and RVF outbreaks in the low lying regions of Baringo County thus should guide targeted vector control measures,’ she said.

College Dean of Research and Chair for the Symposium Committee, Professor Moses Chimbari, said the candidates had heard about the Symposium through a network of researchers focusing on vector-borne diseases and applying the ecohealth research approach, which he is a part of.

‘Because the NRF grant required us to bring international students to the Symposium, I contacted the three Principal Investigators of projects in Tanzania, Kenya and the Ivory Coast to recommend students who could attend the Symposium if their abstracts were accepted for presentation,’ said Chimbari.

The students were able to attend the Symposium through the NRF Knowledge Interchange and Collaboration (NRF-KIC) grant.

author : Nombuso Dlamini
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