UCT’s Prof Zar hon­oured

Award ac­knowl­edges her out­stand­ing con­tri­bu­tions to child health as well as help­ing to shape in­ter­na­tional pol­icy

The New Age (Western Cape) - - News - TATENDA CHIRISERI news@the­newage.co.za

UNIVER­SITY of Cape Town aca­demic Prof Heather Zar has been an­nounced as the 2018 L’Oreal-Unesco Women in Science Lau­re­ate for Africa and the Arab States.

This is in recog­ni­tion of her widerang­ing con­tri­bu­tions to child health, which has im­proved and saved chil­dren’s lives across the globe, as well as help­ing to shape in­ter­na­tional pol­icy.

The pres­ti­gious award is given an­nu­ally to five women sci­en­tists world­wide – one from each con­ti­nent.

Zar is the chair of the depart­ment of pae­di­atrics and child health as well as the di­rec­tor of the South African Med­i­cal Re­search Coun­cil unit on child and ado­les­cent health at the Red Cross War Memo­rial Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal.

Com­ment­ing on this hon­our, Zar said: “It is hum­bling to be counted among such amaz­ing women sci­en­tists and a re­ally won­der­ful ac­knowl­edge­ment of the work we have been do­ing in child health over many years.

“The award re­flects the ex­tra­or­di­nary teams and peo­ple I’m for­tu­nate to work with and the strong col­lab­o­ra­tions that we have built.”

Res­pi­ra­tory ill­nesses, such as pneu­mo­nia, tu­ber­cu­lo­sis (TB) and asthma are lead­ing causes of mor­tal­ity and de­bil­i­tat­ing ill­nesses in chil­dren world­wide, es­pe­cially for chil­dren in Africa.

These ill­nesses are also a se­ri­ous com­pli­ca­tion in HIV-in­fected chil­dren.

Zar has de­voted much of her work­ing life to find­ing ways to tackle these con­di­tions and to de­vel­op­ing ca­pac­ity in Africa in this field.

This award ac­knowl­edged her out­stand­ing con­tri­bu­tions in the epi­demi­ol­ogy, di­ag­no­sis, preven­tion and man­age­ment of res­pi­ra­tory ill­nesses, achiev­ing re­duc­tions in child­hood mor­tal­ity glob­ally, as well as for es­tab­lish­ing a cut­ting-edge re­search pro­gramme in pneu­mo­nia, TB and asthma.

Her work fo­cuses on key ill­nesses that cause most child­hood deaths and dis­eases in Africa and glob­ally, in­clud­ing child­hood pneu­mo­nia, TB, HIV-as­so­ci­ated dis­eases and asthma.

Her work has iden­ti­fied new meth­ods for di­ag­no­sis and preven­tion and pro­vided new knowl­edge on the causes and long-term im­pact.

In asthma, epi­demi­o­log­i­cal stud­ies have de­lin­eated the large bur­den of child­hood asthma in Africa.

She is well-known for her in­no­va­tion in the de­vel­op­ment of a low-cost al­ter­na­tive to spac­ers for asthma, us­ing a sim­ple 500ml plas­tic cold drink bot­tle.

Pos­si­bly her most im­por­tant work has been es­tab­lish­ing the Drak­en­stein child health study.

This unique birth co­hort study was among the first in Africa to in­ves­ti­gate com­pre­hen­sively the early life de­ter­mi­nants of child health and the link be­tween early life ill­ness and de­vel­op­ment of chronic dis­ease.

This study en­com­passes ba­sic science, epi­demi­o­log­i­cal, clin­i­cal science and public health as­pects and was un­der­pinned by strong mea­sures of the so­cial and bi­o­log­i­cal de­ter­mi­nants of health.

Such novel re­search pro­vides new knowl­edge to in­form strate­gies for im­proved preven­tion and treat­ment of child­hood ill­nesses.

This body of work has had a big im­pact on child health, im­prov­ing man­age­ment and preven­tion of child­hood ill­nesses and chang­ing pol­icy and in­ter­na­tional prac­tice guide­lines, in­clud­ing those pro­duced by the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion.

Iran ‘ends’ quake res­cue op­er­a­tions

ANKARA: Res­cue op­er­a­tions have ended in ar­eas of Iran hit by a pow­er­ful week­end earth­quake that killed at least 450 peo­ple and in­jured thou­sands, state tele­vi­sion re­ported yes­ter­day. Many sur­vivors in need of food and wa­ter bat­tled the cold. Sun­day’s 7.3-mag­ni­tude earth­quake struck vil­lages and towns in the moun­tain­ous area of Ker­man­shah province. Ira­nian Pres­i­dent Has­san Rouhani promised that the gov­ern­ment “will use all its power to re­solve the prob­lems in the short­est time”. – Reuters

Unloved vul­tures fight for sur­vival

CHANGA MANGA: Once a com­mon sight in the skies of Pak­istan, to­day the white-backed vul­ture is fac­ing ex­tinc­tion – its pop­u­la­tion dev­as­tated by the use of in­dus­trial drugs to breed the cat­tle whose car­casses they tra­di­tion­ally feed on. Bird num­bers have plum­meted by more than 99% since the 1990s, ac­cord­ing to the World Wildlife Fund, which is des­per­ately at­tempt­ing to en­sure the species does not die out. But due to sev­eral threats, prin­ci­pally the use of the anti-in­flam­ma­tory drug Di­clofenac, which causes kid­ney fail­ure, the birds are dy­ing out. – AFP

War­rant is­sued for fi­nance min­is­ter

IS­LAM­ABAD: A Pakistani an­ti­cor­rup­tion court yes­ter­day is­sued an ar­rest war­rant for Fi­nance Min­is­ter Ishaq Dar after the vet­eran politi­cian failed to turn up for sev­eral court hear­ings. Dar, who has been charged with amass­ing wealth be­yond his known sources of in­come, has missed three weeks of court hear­ings con­ducted by anti-graft agency Na­tional Ac­count­abil­ity Bureau. Judge Mo­ham­mad Bashir is­sued the war­rant on the grounds of “con­tin­ued ab­sence” from the court. – Reuters

CON­TRI­BU­TIONS RECOG­NISED: Prof Heather Zar, sec­ond from left, was an­nounced as the 2018 L’Oreal-Unesco Women in Science Lau­re­ate for Africa and the Arab States.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.