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Pushing back suffering


Medical alumni continue to advance frontiers

Diabetes is just one of the non-communicable diseases creating a growing burden for Africa. Understanding the part played by genetic drivers could help us fight these diseases, but genomic research in Africa has its own challenges, according to Prof Michèle Ramsay (PhD 1987) in an article on The Conversation.

Gene therapy is a promising field in the treatment of the hepatitis B virus (HBV), according to Prof Patrick Arbuthnot (BSc 1982, BSc Hons 1984, MBBCh 1985, PhD 1993). Delivering the James HS Gear Memorial Lecture in November, he said HBV, which damages the liver, is one of the main causes of death worldwide.

Twenty years of antiretroviral treatment came in for review by Prof Ian Sanne (MBBCH 1990) and Prof Francois Venter in the 14th Prestigious Lecture: ART: Do or Die.

“Children and adolescents are often overlooked in our response to HIV/Aids,” says Prof Gayle Sherman (MBBCh 1989, MMed 1997, PhD 2006). But a new web-based system that monitors CD4 count and viral load in South Africa’s HIV positive patients will help. It provides and analyses information by location and age group, enabling health care practitioners to respond more effectively.

Researcher Dr Nicole de Wet (BA 2007, BA Hons 2008, MA 2009, PhD 2013) is also focused on adolescent health and behaviour.

How do we know whether a country’s health is improving? One sign might be the sex ratio at birth – the proportion of boys born – according to Gwinyai Masukume (MSc 2015) in an article on The Conversation.