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Change the world

05/10/2021

The research of two award-winning master’s graduates and lecturers at Nelson Mandela University can contribute to the country’s health services in both the legal and environmental health areas. Both women received awards at the recent virtual annual academic student awards ceremony.

Faculty of Law lecturer Priscilla Moyo received the prestigious Rupert Gesinstigting Award for Social Sciences and Humanities for her LLM in Law. The Rupert Gesinstigting awards are awarded to the best full-time doctoral students registered for the current year at the University - one in Social Sciences and Humanities and the other in Science, Engineering and Technology.

Environmental Health lecturer Sydlynn Hambury won the award for an MTech by Dissertation in the Science, Engineering and Technology category for her MTech in Environmental Health.

Priscilla’s LLM focused on the constitutionality of selected aspects of the National Health Insurance Bill and found that the NHI Bill is likely to be unconstitutional, because of the differential treatment afforded to non-nationals in the Bill. It also lacks details with respect to certain material aspects.

For her LLD, she is researching socio-economic rights and assessing the role of section 36 in the adjudication of the right to access health care services.

Priscilla, who hails from Zimbabwe, aspires to “one day be one of the world’s prominent human rights lawyers and what I do now makes a difference in my future successes. Therefore, I must not only work hard but I also put myself out there to enable me to build connections that will assist me in my career”, she says.

“I would like to think of law as a calling rather than a profession because you must have the desire to help people if you are going to be in the legal profession, especially if you are going to be dealing with human rights. The desire to help people drew me to law”, she says.

Covid-19 has greatly affected her working routine with limited access to the library. Furthermore, with all the travel restrictions, she has been unable to travel for seminars and conferences and whilst most of these have moved online, it is just not the same as networking and sharing ideas in person, she says.

Her dream job is to be a Human Rights Litigator at an NGO that advocates for the protection of socio-economic rights.

As a student Priscilla also volunteered for the Law Faculty’s Ubuntu Outreach Programme, an initiative of the Law Faculty assisting students with sandwiches and tea during lunch time.

Sydlynn‘s motto in life is to never give up on your dreams and to always try your best in life. Reaching the top of the ladder is always a process, but just take one step at a time and the more you touch each rung of the ladder, the closer you are to fulfilling your dreams. “If I can make a difference in only one person’s life, then I have achieved something wonderful”, she says.    

She obtained an 83% average for her research on the knowledge, attitude and practices regarding schistosomiasis (bilharzia) among schoolchildren in Grades 4 to 7 from four selected primary schools in KwaNobuhle.  

“I really enjoy learning and research. My hope is that the findings from my study will assist various role players and healthcare professionals to put effective preventative and control measures in place in order to eliminate the disease from the study area’, she says.

The Covid-19 pandemic has taught her to appreciate life and to remain grounded. She tried her best to balance her daily tasks and persevered to finish her dissertation.

Schistosomiasis is prevalent in many developing countries, particularly in Africa and its debilitating effects remain a public health concern in South Africa. Water contact practices in infested water predisposes humans to infection.

Her findings showed that urinary schistosomiasis in the study area had been reported in clinics in the past few years, but the overall knowledge and attitudes on schistosomiasis was poor.

Males (93%) had a higher percentage of infection than females (7%), and the highest rate of infections was found in individuals between the ages of 10 and 19 years.

The results of this study could assist in designing effective preventative and control programmes geared towards eliminating and possibly eradicating schistosomiasis from the study area and South Africa at large.

Sydlynn grew up in Kariega and went to Strelitzia High School. 

She was the best academic student for her National Diploma in Environmental Health and received merit bursaries for outstanding academics at Mandela University 

At school she received merit awards for academics, speech and drama and Interact.

Sydlynn enjoys jogging, swimming, playing tennis, hiking, being outdoors in nature and spending quality time with her family and friends. 

Dreams are never too big or too small, just begin! In life, we are all going to stumble and fall, but just remember to get back up and to always be proud of yourself.

Contact information
Ms Elma de Koker
Internal Communication Practitioner
Tel: 041-504 2160
elma.dekoker@mandela.ac.za