Leading KwaZulu-Natal scientists and academics, drawn from a range of scientific disciplines, came together with civil societies and citizens in a March for Science. The march was held in Durban’s city centre on Saturday 22 April.
The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA), the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC), Maternal, Adolescent and Child Health (MatCH) Research and the Africa Health Research Institute (AHRI) joined forces to highlight the critical importance of sustained and strategic support by governments and funding agencies to advance and promote scientific research and innovation.
‘South Africa and indeed scientists from Durban, KwaZulu-Natal have made remarkable contributions in all spheres of science that has contributed to discoveries and improving and saving lives on the African continent and globally,’ explained Professor Quarraisha Abdool Karim, Associate Scientific Director of CAPRISA. ‘We all benefit in some way or the other in the products of science, innovation and technology, but don’t often stop to reflect on how these come to be in society and what innovation and discovery led to it,’ she added.
The march in Durban formed part of a global March for Science aimed at increasing public awareness on the importance of science in addressing challenges like climate change, food security, opportunistic diseases, life threatening epidemics and the biomedical and basic sciences. Marches took place in over 500 cities worldwide, including Seoul in Korea, Cambridge in the UK, Mexico City in Mexico, and Washington DC in the US.
‘Investing in research and development is about investing in the citizens of our country. Science changes lives, shifts paradigms of thought and promotes innovative economic progress,’ said Professor Glenda Gray, President of the SAMRC.
Globally the event was celebrated on this day to coincide with Earth Day. ‘The marches that happened worldwide not only made a powerful statement regarding the value of scientists and scientific research, but also provided an opportunity to unite researchers globally in promoting the intrinsic value of evidence based policy making and decision making to improve the lives of all people,’ said Dr Albert van Jaarsveld, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of UKZN.
The march began in front of the Durban City Hall before proceeding with much fun, enthusiasm and public engagement to the Gugu Dlamini Park where scientists assembled to display interactive exhibits from the various scientific disciplines.
UKZN Science Centre’s Dr Tanja Reinhardt (aka Dr T) was on hand to woo both the young and old with her popular science show highlighting the wonders of science.