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7 October 2021
Research Week wraps up with SAHPRA discussion on its role in ensuring the public’s safety

The Faculties of Dentistry and Economic Management Sciences delve into how they have contributed to fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

The University of the Western Cape’s (UWC) Research Week wrapped up on 1 October with a presentation by the CEO of the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA), Dr Boitumelo Semete-Makokotlela. 

The presentation focused on getting vaccines and other health products approved for public use and SAHPRA’s role to monitor, evaluate, regulate, and inspect all health products.

“One of the ways that SAHPRA ensures that medical products are safe for public consumption is by conducting non-clinical and clinical trials before, during and after medical products are authorised for use in the public domain,” said Dr Semete-Makoktlela.

SAHPRA’s duties include regularly inspecting premises where medical products are manufactured and stored and reviewing the effects of medication on the public. Earlier this year, SAHPRA developed the Med Safety mobile app to report suspected adverse drug reactions to medicines and vaccines. 

Academics and researchers from the faculties of Dentistry and Economic and Management Sciences also spoke about their work to combat the coronavirus.

Dr Suvarna Indermun, from the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology, said she introduced social media as a critical learning tool after exploratory research with fourth-year students confirmed that students spent a lot of time on their mobile devices. UWC MaxFac Rad (@uwcmaxfacrad) was created on Instagram, and interesting radiology cases were posted. 

“Our move to Instagram was a marriage between an image-based app and an image-based medical field,” said Dr Indermun, referring to social media as “the new word of mouth” which reaches a broader audience, allowing for engagement with international professionals and the marketing of the faculty.

“Students thoroughly enjoyed engaging with content outside the classroom through their daily news feed scrolling sessions. With COVID-19 and online learning, the timing could never be better. I think educators should #getready, because learning is happening at different levels, and they should embrace social media as an exciting educational tool and stay #trendinginteaching.”

Professor Mulugeta Dinbabo (pictured left), from the Institute for Social Development and co-founder and chief editor of the African Human Mobility Review, an accredited journal by the Department of Higher Education and Training, spoke about International Migration and Development in Africa: A call for a global research agenda. 

According to the 2020 International Migration Report, 281 million people lived outside their home country. 

“Individuals move from one country to another for various reasons. Crossing a number of domestic and international boundaries for differing periods of time. Poverty, employment opportunities, family reunification, environmental degradation, conflict, demographic pressures and natural disasters are some of the determinants of migration,” he explained.

Empirical findings from research in Sub-Saharan Africa show that between 2000 and 2019, international migrants from Africa increased by 76% among all regions of the world.

“As a result of persisting income inequalities between developed and developing countries, population pressures and climate change will likely fuel immigration from developing countries. By 2050 Africa’s population is estimated to reach 2.49 billion with implications for social and economic development,” said Prof Dinbabo.

He said this required more research on migration in Africa since solutions for policymakers will stem from data and research. 

“One of my research interest areas is to examine the interplay between development on the one hand and migration studies on the other. In this regard, I would strongly recommend evidence-based policy (EBP) making, which is an approach in public policy proposing that policy decisions should be based on, or informed by, rigorously established research evidence."