Public Health Symposium puts Young Researchers on the Map

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Dr Hervey Williams, Dr Tsholofelo Mhlaba,
Professor Joyce Tsoka-Gwegweni, Mr Daniel
Simbeye and Dr Magaret Nthlangula.

Public Health specialists who recently graduated from UKZN were treated to a congratulatory luncheon as part of a symposium at which they presented findings from their research.

The discipline produced twelve Masters and a PhD graduate this year, and academics said the new public health professionals had an important role to play in improving primary healthcare in the South Africa as the country progresses with the implementation of the National Health Insurance.

Professor Joyce Tsoka-Gwegweni, Acting Academic Leader for Public Health at UKZN, said the future of healthcare in South Africa requires a lot of professionals that have public health as a specialisation. She told them it was important to distinguish between knowledge and understanding, and said that continued research was the key to enhancing their knowledge, understanding and wisdom in the profession.

Mr Daniel Simbeye presented significant findings and recommendations from his study which focused on the implementation strategy of free health care policy for disabled persons at hospital level in KwaZulu-Natal.

A study conducted by Dr Magaret Nthlangula assessed eThekwini Municipality health workers’ knowledge, attitudes and beliefs regarding counselling behaviour for HIV/AIDS, STIs and TB. Dr Hervey Williams on the other hand, assessed the therapeutic efficacy of the fixed-dose combination – artemether and lumefantrine – in the treatment of uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria in Northern KwaZulu-Natal.

Dr Tsholofelo Mhlaba was lauded for her study which highlighted that despite increased access to affordable antiretroviral treatment (ART) in the country, no gold standard has been established for monitoring highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) adherence. She said the various current methods are not homogenous and clinicians need to have a plan for measuring adherence to HAART on an on-going basis in clinical practice.

Her study confirmed that pharmacy data is a feasible tool to be used by general practitioners in ART programmes as a measure of adherence to HAART even though other methods may also be needed to validate this.