Academics are looking at adding a new medical discipline that could help transform Africa’s healthcare sector.
The Wits Health sciences faculty facilitated a research lecture on genomic precision medicine to help advance the treatment of diseases on August 1, at the Wits School of public health, Parktown.
Genomic precision medicine, an emerging field in Africa, looks at an individual’s variability in genes, environment, and lifestyle before administering treatment.
Director of the Wits Sydney Brenner Institute for Molecular Bioscience, Professor Michele Ramsay and Dr June Fabian, research director at the Wits Donald Gordan Medical Centre presented a lecture on the matter titled, “Unlocking Opportunities” for genomic precision medicine in the African continent.
Dr Fabian said that precision medicine has been pioneered in the West; and it is now a matter of Africa catching up and tailoring treatments meant for the African continent.
Meanwhile, echoing her colleague, Ramsay added that it is important that the continent gather more data, do more research, so that the treatment can be better tailored to the African population.
“It is necessary for us to develop our own tools; we can’t use tools that were developed for European populations because we have different variations [genomic sequencing]”, explained Ramsay.
She added that this will help healthcare professionals in the diagnostic setting to prescribe suitable treatments for patients.
Ramsay explained the use of genomic precision medicine will develop “African solutions for African problems”. This will be a game changer because infectious and noncommunicable diseases account for 50 to 88 percent of deaths in Africa, according to a 2022 report from the WHO.
Dr Fabian said that more than 80 percent of clinicians recognise the value of precision medicine and how this can improve care – especially in the public healthcare sector. However, he said that its full potential has not been realised yet due to the high cost, training gap and limited access to genetic services.
The lecture made it clear that genetic medicine is the future; and if the African continent is to benefit from it, it would require collaboration efforts from pharmaceutical companies.
Fourth-year medical student, Amin Borda told Wits Vuvuzela that the presentation was interesting and he cannot wait for the discipline to be brought into their working environment.
FEATURED IMAGE: Dr June Fabian making her presentation during the research lecture. Photo: Sbongile Molambo
Former President Kgalema Motlanthe, Gugu Motlanthe and Dr Max Sisulu Wits present at the 8th Albertina Sisulu Memorial Lecture. (more…)
In the spirit of International Museum Day this week, the Wits Adler Museum of Medicine celebrated with a lunchtime talk.
THE GOOD AND THE BAD: Wits Adler Museum of Medicine, is showing a temporary exhibition titled Asbestos: Wonder Fibre – Serial Killer by photographer David Goldblatt. Photo: Thembisile Dzonzi
Community development is a complicated issue and should be examined to ensure it is sustainable, the curator of the Wits Adler Museum of Medicine said.
“Asbestos, even though it’s good for community development, but it does have an unintended negative impact on people’s health and the environment. So that is not sustainable,” said Luvuyo Dondolo, curator of the Wits Adler Museum of Medicine.
Dondolo was speaking at a lunchtime talk themed “Museums for a sustainable society” to mark International Museum Day on Monday.
“Museums are systems of knowledge, they inform and educate so days like [International Museum Day] are important”
Tony Cantrell, visiting professor in the School of Public Health, delivered a talk about the role of asbestos–as a versatile mineral— but also as a potential killer.
Dondolo said that museums performed a valuable function in society.
“Museums are systems of knowledge, they inform and educate so days like [International Museum Day] are important. If you educate people they can be independent and that allows them to be active citizens and play a major role in democracy,” Dondolo said.
The museum is currently showing a temporary exhibition titled Asbestos: Wonder Fibre – Serial Killer by photographer David Goldblatt taken in Australia and South Africa. The exhibition showcases the effect asbestos mining has on people involved in mining operations, their families, and the environment and is designed to coincide with the faculty’s teaching programme.
Many of us may feel that visiting museums isn’t the most thrilling experience, but once one takes the time to see what they have to offer, we may be surprised by what they have to offer.
Asbestos: Wonder Fibre – Serial Killer is available for viewing until 17 July 2015.
TOP GUN: Motivational speaker Braimoh Bello says African children must take control of their futures. Photo: Mfuneko Toyana
YOU can become a top academic achiever, a Bill Gates even, in four easy steps. “Four Ws”, according to motivational expert Braimoh Bello, will help you determine who you are, and set you on the path to transcending your circumstances and becoming somebody extraordinary.
Where am I from? Why do I do what I do? Why am I here? Where am I going? These are the four questions Bello said he asked himself on his way to gaining three degrees, founding human development consultancy Beyond Tomorrow, and writing a book of the same name.
All of this despite losing his mother at age 11 and being raised by his unemployed father.
Wits Vuvuzela caught up with this honorary lecturer in medical microbiology in the Wits School of Public Health, to find out more about him and his work.
“The reason I speak to young people is because I got those degrees under very difficult circumstances. And that is my message. You should not allow your circumstances to define you. I know what those circumstances were… I know what those circumstances became, going from hardship to comfort.”
Answering the Four Ws helps you understand “why you do what you do”, clarify your purpose and understand the steps needed to achieve it, Bello said.
“It’s a simple message. You need first of all to think of your future. We need Africans to sit down and calmly resolve in their spirits that they can create their futures.
“It cannot be a subconscious thing, it has to be deliberate. It has to be conscious.
“In the way you talk. In the way you walk, and in the way you think.”
Bello said it was especially important for African children to work on the “you factor”, because too often “they did not have the pleasure of nurture, and thus had to rely on nature”.
Bello, who was born in Nigeria recalled that his mother’s death shocked his father into resigning from his job, leaving him and his five siblings to face financial hardship, struggling to fund their education.
From age 15, Bello worked part-time to fund his studies, eventually achieving honours and master’s degrees in medical microbiology from the University of Benin, before winning a scholarship to study at Wits for his PhD.
The 39-year-old Bello dismissed the idea of motivational speaking as a gimmick offering quick fixes.
“The motivation we do at Beyond Tomorrow is not pie-in-the-sky kind of motivation. Motivation should also tell you how to do it.”