Features

UP ISMC helps spread malaria awareness

Sam Mukwamu

World Malaria day is observed on25 April and is an opportunity for people to either promote or learn about the global efforts made to prevent malaria around the world. On this day there are joint efforts to spread awareness for malaria between major organisations such as the World Health Organization (WHO), governments, non-government organisations (NGOs) and individuals. It is also an opportunity for companies, NGOs and individuals to donate or hold fund raising events in support for the prevention, treatment and control of malaria. Malaria is a parasitic disease transmittedby the female anopheles mosquitoes to humans. For centuries malaria has been a major problem for mankind and remains a risk for millions across the globe. Malaria is most prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Latin America. According to the WHO, a total of 216 million cases of malaria were reported from 91 countries in 2016.

This is an increase of five million cases more than what was reported in 2015. Malaria mortality was estimated at approximately 445 000 deaths for 2016. The African region carries a disproportionately high share of the global malaria cases, as only 15 countries are responsible for 80% of the global malaria burden, with only one not being in sub- Saharan Africa. According to the WHO total funding for malaria control and elimination reached an estimated US$ 2.7 billion in 2016. Contributions from governments of endemic countries amounted to US$ 800 million, representing 31% of funding. Malaria elimination has proven to be very difficult for humans to accomplish. Elimination refers to the situation where zero local transmission of malaria occurs within a country. A country can only apply for the WHO certification of malaria elimination once it has achieved at least three consecutive years of zero local cases of malaria.

In recent years, 7 countries have been certified by the WHO Director-General as having eliminated malaria: United Arab Emirates (2007), Morocco (2010), Turkmenistan (2010), Armenia (2011), Maldives (2015), Sri Lanka (2016) and Kyrgyzstan (2016). The WHO Framework for Malaria Elimination (2017) provides a detailed set of tools and strategies for achieving and maintaining elimination. According to Dr Taneshka Kruger of the UP Institute for Sustainable Malaria Control (ISMC), “South Africa’s target for malaria elimination was set for the year 2018; however this target will not be reached. An increase in malaria cases has been noted and now the goal posts have been moved to a later date.” Dr Kruger says that not only has there been an increase in cases, but also an increase in the number of malaria cases during the winter or low peak season (from June to August), as well as an increase in areas where there haven’t been cases for a while or any previous cases at all.

Dr Kruger describes malaria transmission as being a cycle that involves the malaria parasite being transferred from an infected human to the female mosquito when it feeds on the human’s blood, the parasite developing in the mosquito, then being able to be transferred into another human from the mosquito. “The life cycle of the malaria parasite is very complex. Simply put, the malaria parasite requires two hosts for it to complete its life cycle. In the human, malaria undergoes asexual reproduction. Prior to transmission some of the malaria parasites differentiate into sexual stages known as gametocytes. The gametocytes stop developing until they are taken up by a female mosquito. Once in the mosquito’s gut, the gametocytes become macro- and micro-gametocytes which join together to form a zygote. The zygote continuous developing, undergo[es] replication and ultimately become sporozoites.

Read more: UP ISMC helps spread malaria awareness

Strange things to do with your postgrad

Rebecca Woodrow and Georgina Glass

With graduation season in full swing, many students are faced with the realities of life after university. For those of you who want to continue with further studies, but are trying to find a way to do it with novelty and originality, the achievements of the Ig Nobel Prize winners are unquestionably inspirational.

Dance your Ph.D is a competition that requires applicants to submit interpretive dance videos that explain and illustrate your thesis in one of the most bizarre manners possible. You can win a thousand dollars in prize money, but your research does have to be in a field of science. The winner of the 2017 competition, Nancy Scherich, submitted a video explaining her Ph.D in Geometry titled Representation of the Braid Groups. This is a great option if you enjoy interpretive dance and want to receive internet notoriety. 

Read more: Strange things to do with your postgrad

Residence issues over the years

Alison Massey

This year, Perdeby is turning 80 (in case you hadn’t noticed), and this presents the perfect opportunity to reflect on our own writing. Residence issues are something that always have and always will be a prominent part of the paper since it affects so many of UP’s students. With the main aspects of today’s reporting on res being gossip (Pssst...) and gender or race imbalances, Perdeby decided to delve into the archives and examine how this has changed, or remained constant, over the years.

 

1939
The year it all started - Perdeby’s inception. Interestingly, the archives appeared only to have one article relating to res in ’39 and it appears to be concerned with members of Kollege and Laer houses fighting overseas (during the Second World War). This goes to show that politics and res have never been mutually exclusive and likely never can be, as social issues affect students just as much as anyone else.

 

1940s
By this time, Perdeby was in full swing, reporting on many of the same categories of issues that are reported on today, namely politics, sports, entertainment and news. As far as res is concerned, most of the issues reported on were fairly mild, containing topics like “huisdanse” (house dances), Jool, Serenade, Lentedag, sports and the usual res gossip – although in the ‘40s they weren’t afraid to name names. There was also a lot of reporting on the formation of new houses, especially of those for day-students who were viewed as in need of the unification and camaraderie that was presumed to come with res culture. Although these issues may seem unimportant compared to the major, life-changing problems many deal with today, it is important to remember that this was during an age where conservatism was prevalent, even in student writing. For example, weekly Bible verses and discussions around Christianity, which was heavily encouraged, if not enforced by the government at the time – were included.

 

1950s
Not much changed in Perdeby’s reporting on res during this decade. Prominent topics included Jool, huisdanse, debutantes, the formation of new houses, the election of house committees and the usual res “fun and games”, including harmless pranks and activities. Sexist ideals that were prevalent at the time did, however, come through in odd articles, for instance, a 1955 article stating that now that the first year res initiation process was complete, the UP men had “something new to look at”, even going so far as to add concern for the “poor” res ladies who had now become “doodgewoon” (dead-normal) in the eyes of the men.

Read more: Residence issues over the years

Prescription drug abuse: Pill-poppers on slipery slope

SAM MUKWAMU

The past decade has seen a rapid increase in global prescription drug abuse. The US has been going through an opioid epidemic, which has resulted in a recent surge in several counties in different states filing lawsuits against opioid-manufacturing pharmaceutical companies. The Australian and British governments have also made efforts to combat their own growing opioid issues, as the Australian government has made codeine-based medication only available to those with prescriptions, while the English government has ordered an investigation into the growing problem of addiction to prescription drugs such as painkillers, and medicines to treat anxiety and insomnia.

Mayo Clinic defines prescription drug abuse as “the use of a prescription medication in a way not intended by the prescribing doctor”, these include taking a friend’s prescription painkillers for pain, and snorting, or injecting medication to get high. The most commonly abused prescription drugs include opioid painkillers, such as Oxycotin and Vicodin; anti-anxiety medication, such as Urbanol and Xanax; and stimulants, such as Concerta and Ritalin. Mayo clinic also says that those who abuse prescription medication may develop a tolerance to the medication, as their bodies become physically dependent on the drug and will require higher doses to experience the same effects. This dependence could lead to withdrawal symptoms if dosage is decreased or if drug use is stopped. Prescription medication abuse has also been a problem in South Africa. According to The South African Community Epidemiology Network on Drugs (Sacendu), the abuse of over-the-counter and prescription medication such as slimming tablets, analgesics and benzodiazepines has become more prevalent in South Africa. According to statistics compiled by Sacendu between January and June 2016‚ admissions to its centres for over-the-counter and prescription medication as a primary or secondary drug of abuse were 0.7% for Mpumalanga‚ 7.2% in the Eastern Cape‚ 1.7% for Gauteng‚ 1.5% in KwaZulu- Natal and 1.1% for the Free State‚ North West and Northern Cape. Sancedu also noted that during the same time period, 2.4% of patients across all their treatment centres reported having used codeine for non-medical purposes, with the majority coming from Gauteng.

According to Dr Bhoora of the UP Department of Family Medicine and the Community Oriented Substance Use Programme (COSUP), prescription drug abuse has been on the rise because people are now more aware of what drugs there are, as well as what they can do. Dr Bhoora further said “life stressors and the fast-paced society we live in also adds to the daily pressure. Once someone has used a drug that works, those factors make it easier to need more. It is also possible that the problem has always been around but we are only realizing the actual impact now.” Dr Bhoora believes that there are several reasons as to why people initially start using or abusing prescription drugs, such as it being more acceptable to use prescription drugs than street drugs in society, they can be covered by medical schemes, there is no real bodily danger in terms of accessing, compared to street drugs sold by dangerous dealers. Dr Bhoora also says that “a lot of people use prescription drugs for a real problem, for example after an injury, and become dependent as a result of this [...] Not everybody gets hooked, but there could be underlying issues.”

Read more: Prescription drug abuse: Pill-poppers on slipery slope

UP contributes to cancer therapy

GEMMA GATTICCHI

Every year approximately 14 million people are diagnosed with cancer. This is usually seen as a death sentence to many, however, UP is working to bring hope to cancer patients. According to the National Cancer Institute, 8.2 million cancer-related deaths occur worldwide and the number of new cancer cases will rise to 22 million within the next two decades. WHO defines cancer as “the transformation of normal cells into tumour cells in a multistage process that generally progresses from a pre-cancerous lesion to a malignant tumour. These changes are the result of the interaction between a person's genetic factors and three categories of external agents, specifically, physical carcinogens, chemical carcinogens and biological carcinogens.”

UP has taken a ground-breaking step toward the cure in its innovative nuclear therapy research, conducted at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital. It is being operated as a combined effort between two research bodies, namely, UP’s Department of Nuclear Medicine and the European Commission’s science and knowledge service, the Joint Research Centre (JRC). The JRC is involved in a variety of projects and partners with many renowned scientists from all over the world. In collaboration with the Department of Nuclear Medicine, they are working towards furthering scientific knowledge on the subject of nuclear therapy to treat cancer. This partnership will allow the Department to treat advanced-stage prostate cancer patients using targeted alpha therapy (TAT).

Read more: UP contributes to cancer therapy

Flip Through Perdeby

Video Gallery