The EHRU out and about

Prof Angela Mathee attended the Waste Khoro 2019: Asbestos and Land Remediation Summit in Kimberley from 17 to 19 September 2019
The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) hosted the Waste Khoro 2019: Asbestos and Land Remediation Summit in Kimberley from 17 to 19 September 2019. Professor Cindy Stephen (Poisons Information Helpline), Professor Angela Mathee (South African Medical Research Council) and Professor Andrea Rother (University of Cape Town) attended to focus attention on the work of the Poisons Information Helpline, the need to ban lead paint and the health hazards of pesticides, respectively. Here they are seen with Mark Gordon, DDG: Chemicals and Waste Management at the DEA
EHRU presents at the 31st annual conference of the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology (25 – 28 August 2019)

Prof. Renee Street, Ms. Busisiwe Shezi and Ms. Thandi Kapwata attended the 31st annual conference of the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology (ISEE 2019) held in Utrecht, the Netherlands (25-28 August 2019). The presented topics were (i) Maternal exposure to indoor PM2.5 and associated adverse birth outcomes in low socio-economic households, Durban, South Africa; (ii) Using randon forest to compare associations between temperature indicators and call-cause mortality in South Africa; (iii) recycling of scrap metal into artisanal cookware: a public health threat? and (iv) Poisonous plant exposure, human health harms and the development of culturally relevant public education messaging.

EHRU talks to school children about climate change and health during National Science Week (29 July to 3 August 2019)

National Science Week (NSW), is an annual event aiming to exhibit and communicate awareness in science. It is an initiative of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), a countrywide celebration of science involving various stakeholders and/or role players conducting science-based activities during the week. The theme for 2019 is “Facing the harsh realities of climate change”. Thanks to the South African Council for Natural Scientific Professions (SACNASP), Bianca Wernecke from the EHRU took to the stage and engaged with schools in Gauteng to raise awareness about how climate change affects human health, especially in the South African context (for more info on all NSW activities across the country: http://www.saasta.ac.za/programmes/focus-weeks/national-science-week/ ).

Access the interactive “Kahoot” quiz on climate change in South Africa that was shared with the school kids on https://create.kahoot.it/share/climate-change-in-south-africa/71c63d49-c38a-4afa-bdb2-ef41e596b174 to raise awareness in your own activities.

SAMRC EHRU talks about impacts of air pollution on human health at bilateral workshop on improving the quality of water and air  in RSA (University of Johannesburg, 19 July 2019)

Bianca Wernecke talks about how air pollution affects human health in the South African context at a workshop based on a bilateral partnership between South Africa and France which provides a platform to discuss how we can improve the quality of water and air in our country.

EHRU gives training on health policy for persons with albinism at the University of Pretoria Centre for Human Rights (24 June 2019)

 Caradee Wright gives training on health policy for persons with albinism at the University of Pretoria Centre for Human Rights. Mention was made of the need for sun protection and an integrated systems approach to policy and support for health and well-being. 

EHRU partakes in Science-Policy Initiative on Air Pollution and Health – New York City, 19 June 2019

The Academy of Science of South Africa, the Brazilian Academy of Sciences, the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, the U.S. National Academy of Medicine, and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences have started an initiative on “Air Pollution and Health” relating to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The five academies brought together leading scientists from South Africa, Brazil, Germany, and the United States as well as representatives of the UN and civil society to formalise a compact science-policy statement, which addresses global options and measures to reduce air pollution-associated risks to health.


Caradee Wright with previous UN Chief Scientist Jacqueline McGlade at the United Nations in New York City as part of an event to hand over a joint Academy of Sciences statement on air pollution and health to the United Nations. 

SAMRC Press Release

The South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) was part of a high level delegation taking a stand against air pollution. Dr Caradee Wright, SAMRC’s Senior Specialist Scientist in the Environment and Health Research Unit, accompanied Himla Soodyal, Executive Officer of the Academy of Sciences of South Africa (ASSAf) to the event. ASSAf teamed up with Brazil, Germany and the United States of America science academies, and the US National Academy of Medicine, to issue an urgent call to governments, businesses and citizens to reduce global air pollution.
EHRU presents at 4th Sun Protection conference at the Royal College of General Practitioners in London on 4 June 2019

Caradee Wright presented at the 4th Sun Protection conference at the Royal College of General Practitioners in London on 4 June 2019. The keynote topic was Crafting Sun Protection Messages including for Overlooked Populations and Populations with Health Disparities.  

Dr Street facilitates a session on Science Advice for early career researchers from the Africa region (27 - 28 May 2019)

Dr Street was invited to facilitate a session on science advice and diplomacy at a Young Scientist Symposium which was held in Durban on 27 - 28 May 2019. The Young Scientist Symposium entitled ‘ONE HEALTH: A focus on Infectious Diseases in Africa’ was hosted by The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) -Twas Young Affiliate Network (TYAN), the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) and the South African Young Academy of Science (SAYAS).

The aim of the symposium was to increase knowledge and build capacity in infectious disease research amongst early career researchers in the Africa region. At the symposium Dr Street presented an overview on science advice / diplomacy followed by a facilitator-led case study to illustrate the theoretical and practical approaches to the use of scientific evidence in informing policy at all levels of government and the role of various stakeholders.

EHRU hosted a Postgraduate Capacity Development Workshop in Durban (9-10 May 2019)

The Environment and Health Research Unit in Collaboration with the University of Graz (Austria) hosted post graduate students from the University of Zululand and University of KwaZulu-Natal during a postgraduate capacity development workshop. Each year the South African National Research Foundation (NRF) has a funding call for postgraduate bursaries. This two-day postgraduate capacity development workshop aimed to assist nine postgraduate students in developing their research proposals to respond to this funding call. The participants were graduates who intend on applying for postgraduate funding in 2020 in the fields of chemistry and health. The workshop was a success and positive feedback was received from participants.

Financial support to host this workshop was provided by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research (BMBWF) and by the South African Department of Science and Technology (DST).

 

EHRU attends 15th European Association of Dermato-Oncology Congress from the 24-27 April 2019 in Paris, France

Caradee Wright attended the 15th European Association of Dermato-Oncology Congress from the 24-27 April 2019 in Paris, France. This was an opportunity to learn more about trends in skin cancer epidemiology and prevention and skin cancer screening. Caradee also attended the Multi-Stakeholder Summit on Occupational Skin Cancer which aims to prepare a Global Call to Action to address skin cancer prevention in the workplace.


At the EADO Congress E-Poster session at Maison de la Chimie, Paris

En route to Maison de la Chimie via the Tour d’Eiffel

In the Amphitheatre Lavoisier, Maison de la Chimie, for the start of the session on trends in skin cancer epidemiology
EHRU team attends AIR POLLUTION AND HEALTH: SCIENCE-POLICY WORKSHOP TO ADDRESS A GROWING GLOBAL CRISIS, NEW YORK (20-21 March 2019)

On the 20th and 21st March 2019, Professors Caradee Wright and Angela Mathee from the SAMRC Environment and Health Research Unit attended, on behalf of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), a meeting on Air Pollution and Health: Science-Policy Workshop to Address a Growing Global Crisis in New York, United States of America.

Four countries (Germany, the USA, Brazil and South Africa) participated in the meeting, which was hosted by Leopoldina, the German science academy. An important output of the meeting was a draft statement from the science academies of the four participating countries that will outline major air pollution challenges and health impacts, and call for stronger global action on air pollution and health. The meeting was particularly timeous in the light of definitive new evidence of the role that air pollution plays in non-communicable diseases such as stroke, heart disease and lung cancer (in addition to the long-established burden of death and disease from communicable diseases):

  • 29% of all deaths and disease from lung cancer
  • 17% of all deaths and disease from acute lower respiratory infection
  • 24% of all deaths from stroke
  • 25% of all deaths and disease from ischaemic heart disease
  • 43% of all deaths and disease from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (https://www.who.int/airpollution/ambient/health-impacts/en/)

The meeting was attended by country delegations and international experts on air pollution and health. The South African delegation was led by Prof Wright, and included Prof Stuart Piketh from North West University, Dr Kristy Langerman from the University of Johannesburg, and Dr Siyavuya Bulani from ASSAf. The final component of the meeting was a workshop on funding opportunities offered by the German Research Foundation: DFG Workshop on International Scientific Cooperation in the Field of "Air Pollution and Health" and Funding.

Associate Prof Caradee Wright attends and presents at the 3rd International Educational Symposium of the Melanoma World Society (1-2 March 2019)
Caradee Wright presented at the Melanoma World Society conference in Cape Town on the 1 March 2019. The aim of the conference was to improve medical education, improve guideline development, improve patient’s access to new treatments and improve clinical research in melanoma. Her plenary presentation was “An Update of Epidemiology of Skin Cancer in South Africa”. The conference was attended by 150 dermatologists, oncologists, surgeons and others working in public health in Africa and around the world.
Expert consultation at the World Health Organization Head Quarters to help tackle air pollution (12-14 February 2019)

Prof Caradee Wright attends WHO’s Expert Consultation: Risk communication and intervention to reduce exposure and to minimize the health effects of air pollution as an expert advisor


Prof Wright visiting in the Main Conference of the World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland

Prof Wright standing below the South African flag at the World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland
Fieldwork for artisanal cookware (January 2019)

On the search for artisanal pot makers in Giyani, Limpopo in January 2019. Preliminary investigations of potential health risks from making and using artisanal pots.  

 
Attendance of the First WHO Global Conference on Air Pollution and Health at World Health Organization Head Quarters (30 October – 1 November 2018)

Following an invitation from the World Health Organization (WHO), Professor Angela Mathee attended the First WHO Global Conference on Air Pollution and Health at WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland from 30 October to 1 November 2018. The conference was organized in collaboration with UN Environment, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (CCAC), the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), the World Bank and the Secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The conference was held in response to a resolution of the Sixty-eighth World Health Assembly (WHA68.8) in 2015, in which ministers of health asked for a major scaling-up of the response by health and other sectors to prevent air pollution diseases, exposure to air pollution and their costs to society.

Air pollution – both ambient and household – is estimated to cause 7 million deaths per year, 5.6 million deaths are from noncommunicable diseases and 1.5 million from pneumonia. Reduction in exposure to air pollution is especially important for protecting the health of children. More than half of all pneumonia deaths in children under five years of age are caused by air pollution. Furthermore, this early life exposure is associated with an increased risk for many chronic diseases. Actions to tackle air pollution and mitigate climate change can achieve combined, and therefore substantially greater, benefits compared with the cost of implementing them.

For further information on the conference, go to: https://www.who.int/airpollution/events/conference/en/

An Early Warning System for Infectious Diseases – a visit to Japan (November 2018)

 In November 2018, an international team of South Africa and Japanese researchers and practitioners met in Tokyo, Japan. Researchers presented on results of work to prepare an Early Warning System for infectious Diseases, namely malaria, diarrhoea and pneumonia, in southern Africa.

A Declaration of Commitment was signed to support the practical implementation and longevity of the Early Warning System in the form of a Bureau to be hosted by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in Johannesburg. A final project meeting was held in January 2019 in Pretoria at the  Department of Science and Technology. Several initiatives are underway, including joint-proposals between Japanese and South African researchers, to continue what has been a successful collaboration between the two countries.

 

 

 

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