Prof Heather Zar, MBBCh, FRCPaeds, PhD, BC Pediatrics USA, BC Pediatric Pulmonology USA, FRCP(Edinburgh), ATSF, FAPSR Professor and Chair Dept of Paediatrics & Child Health, University of Cape Town2018-08-20T14:05:42+00:00

Project Description

Meet Prof Heather Zar, Professor & Chair: Dept of Paediatrics & Child Health, University of Cape Town 

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“Amongst children in Africa, we still see too many deaths from illnesses like pneumonia and tuberculosis which are largely preventable and treatable.”

Professor Heather Zar is currently the Chair of the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health at UCT and her work with TB, pneumonia, asthma and HIV/AIDS-related lung disease has contributed to changing global and World Health Organisation guidelines.  A leading global expert in these areas, she has published over 300 scientific articles and has been given the highest rating, A-1 from the National Research Foundation. She has key international roles including serving as the immediate Past-President of the Pan African Thoracic Society, of the Forum International Respiratory Societies, on the NCD Taskforce for Essential Drugs for Children and as an advisor to the World Health Organization.

She was recently awarded the 2018 L’Oreal-UNESCO Women in Science Laureate for Africa and the Arab States, which is presented annually to five women scientists globally, one from each continent. In addition, the University of Cape Town recently awarded her the 2018 Alan Pifer award for socially responsive research.

“Child health is largely under-resourced despite children making up a third of the population in South Africa and more than 50% in some African countries.  We know child health sets the trajectory for adult health – so strengthening health for children is important, not only to ensure health for children but the passage to healthy adulthood.”

Professor Zar would like to see the development of stronger African networks in research, education and advocacy for child health and in lung health.  Some of these networks have already been created but there’s still much work to do.

“We need to do better for African children and reduce global and local inequities. African children need better access to effective preventive and treatment strategies.  We need to develop stronger health systems and African capacity to address child health. For my specific work, I’d like to secure sufficient grant funding for us to extend our unique African birth cohort study, the Drakenstein Child Health study of 1,000 mother-child pairs until the children are through adolescence – this is such a unique opportunity to better understand what factors (from pregnancy through childhood) enable a child and adult to reach their full potential and to identify new ways to do this.”

The following must be addressed to improve health of our citizens: lack of access to good quality healthcare; inadequate numbers of healthcare professionals for our population; the many social determinants of health such as widespread poverty, malnutrition and lack of education; then the dual epidemic of infectious diseases (like pneumonia or tuberculosis) and non-communicable diseases (like asthma). “

Prof Zar grew up in a large family of five children with many other children around, so she easily relates and empathises with them.  She loves working with children and after she did her first paediatric rotation as a fifth-year medical student at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, she knew Paediatrics was going to be her speciality.

“My family is an absolute priority for me! I try to ensure I have quality time with my children and I protect time for spending with the family. I try and include my family in some of my work, so from the time since when my children were small, they have been part of my working life. “

Prof Zar continues to be dedicated to improving child health especially in Africa and to contribute to the development and implementation of better ways to prevent and treat childhood illnesses in Africa and globally.

“We need to provide many more resources to strengthen strategies and research in child health to ensure that each child thrives to reach their full potential.”

Prof Heather Zar, MBBCh, FRCPaeds, PhD, BC Pediatrics USA, BC Pediatric Pulmonology USA, FRCP(Edinburgh), ATSF, FAPSR
Professor and Chair Dept of Paediatrics & Child Health, University of Cape Town

“Amongst children in Africa we still see too many deaths from illnesses like pneumonia and tuberculosis which are largely preventable and treatable.”

 

“Amongst children in Africa we still see too many deaths from illnesses like pneumonia and tuberculosis which are largely preventable and treatable.”

Professor Heather Zar is currently the Chair of the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health at UCT and her work with TB, pneumonia, asthma and HIV/AIDS related lung disease has contributed to changing global and World Health Organisation guidelines.  A leading global expert in these areas, she has published over 300 scientific articles and has been given the highest rating, A-1 from the National Research Foundation. She has key international roles including serving as the immediate Past-President of the Pan African Thoracic Society, of the Forum International Respiratory Societies, on the NCD Task force for Essential Drugs for Children and as an advisor to the World Health Organisation.

She was recently awarded the 2018 L’Oreal-UNESCO Women in Science Laureate for Africa and the Arab States, which is presented annually to five women scientists globally, one from each continent. In addition, the University of Cape Town recently awarded her the 2018 Alan Pifer award for socially responsive research.

This is her mission …..

 

“Child health is largely under-resourced despite children making up a third of the population in South Africa and more than 50% in some African countries.  We know child health sets the trajectory for adult health – so strengthening health for children is important, not only to ensure health for children, but the passage to healthy adulthood.”

 

Professor Zar would like to see development of stronger African networks in research, education and advocacy for child health and in lung health.  Some of these networks have already been created but there’s still much work to do.

“We need to do better for African children and reduce global and local inequities. African children need better access to effective preventive and treatment strategies.  We need to develop stronger health systems and African capacity to address child health. For my specific work , I’d like to secure sufficient grant funding for us to extend our unique African birth cohort study, the Drakenstein Child Health study of 1,000 mother-child pairs until the children are through adolescence – this is such a unique opportunity to better understand what factors (from pregnancy through childhood) enable a child and adult to reach their full potential and to identify new ways to do this.”

The following must be addressed to improve health of our citizens: lack of access to good quality healthcare; inadequate numbers of healthcare professionals for our population; the many social determinants of health such as widespread poverty, malnutrition and lack of education; then the dual epidemic of infectious diseases (like pneumonia or tuberculosis) and non-communicable diseases (like asthma). “

Prof Zar grew up in a large family with five children with many other children around, so she easily relates and empathises with them.  She loves working with children and after she did her first paediatric rotation as a fifth-year medical student at Chris Hani Baragwanath hospital, she knew Paediatrics was going to be her speciality.

“My family is an absolute priority for me! I try to ensure I have quality time with my children and I protect time for spending with the family; I try and include my family in some of my work, so from the time when my children were small, they have been part of my working life. “

 

Prof Zar continues to be dedicated to improving child  health especially in Africa and to contribute to development and implementation of better ways to prevent and treat childhood illnesses in Africa and globally.

“We need to provide many more resources to strengthen strategies and research in child health to ensure that each child thrives to reach their full potential.”

Prof Heather Zar, MBBCh, FRCPaeds, PhD, BC Pediatrics USA, BC Pediatric Pulmonology USA, FRCP(Edinburgh), ATSF, FAPSR

Professor and Chair Dept of Paediatrics & Child Health, University of Cape Town

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