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Faculty of Health Sciences

UP now has a satellite health research facility in Thohoyandou, Limpopo!

By Faculty/Fakulteit

Posted on 29 July 2014

Dr Ndwamato, Prof de Jager and Prof Bornman
Dr Ndwamato, Prof de Jager and Prof Bornman

The Department of Urology and the School of Health Systems and Public Health in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Pretoria (UP) have been performing human and environmental health research in the Vhembe district of the Limpopo province for the past twelve years. This National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)-funded study is a collaborative effort between Prof Brenda Eskenazi, who is the Director of the Center for Children's Environmental Health Research at the University of California, Berkeley Campus, San Francisco, USA, and Prof Riana Bornman of the Department of Urology at UP.

The study on Indoor Residual Spraying of Insecticides for Malaria Control and Child Neurodevelopment in South Africa, the first of its kind in an area that is currently being sprayed with DDT, is being conducted at the UP satellite facility at the Tshilidzini Hospital in Thohoyandou, Limpopo province.

The Deputy Dean: Research of the Faculty of Health Sciences, Prof Tiaan de Jager, recently visited the VHEMBE field office to obtain first-hand information on the available laboratory facilities and skilled staff. VHEMBE is the acronym for Venda Health Examination of Mothers and Babies in their Environment and the office is housed in a separate building set up for research. A significant contribution was made to the empowerment of the local VhaVenda women who were recruited and trained as interviewers to collect high-quality data under remote rural conditions. Quality management and data capturing are done on site and the availability of a -80 oC freezer, which is equipped with an alarm, allows for a wide spectrum of samples to be stored under controlled conditions. A Community Advisory Board (CAB) consisting of representatives from some study villages and the Head of Family Medicine at Tshilidzini Hospital, Dr Ntodeni Ndwamato, contributes to a better understanding of the challenges that participants and researchers are facing. Prof de Jager emphasised the fact that the University of Pretoria has here been afforded an exceptional opportunity in the global scientific arena to address unique research questions regarding environmental chemical exposure and health effects. 

The UP satellite facility at Tshilidzini Hospital will also support new research initiatives in Limpopo, including research on prostate cancer and epigenomics effects linked to environmental chemical exposure. Professors Bornman and De Jager have been conducting research in this area since 2002. Strong international collaboration has been established with the University of California (Berkeley), the University of Sydney, and the Laval and McGill universities in Canada on various projects in this area. The UP Centre for Sustainable Malaria Control is also actively working on several community-based research projects in Venda.

Prof de Jager and Prof Bornman at the UP satellite research facility in Vhembe, Limpopo Province


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