Two Rhodes University academics selected for high-profile Provincial Covid-19 Expert Panel

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Professor Rod Walker manufacturing sanitiser in the Pharmacy lab
Professor Rod Walker manufacturing sanitiser in the Pharmacy lab

Two eminent Rhodes University academics, Professors Rosemary Dorrington and Rod Walker have joined a team of experts assembled by Premier Lubabalo Oscar Mabuyane and assigned by the Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize, to shore up efforts to curb Covid-19 in the Eastern Cape Province.

As part of the expert panel, Professors Dorrington and Walker will provide clinical advice to the OR Tambo, Sarah Baartman and Nelson Mandela Bay Metro Joint Operations Centres, to best inform governmental response strategies.

Prof Dorrington, who holds a SARChI in Marine Natural Products Research, has been the consulting virologist to Rhodes University’s Coronavirus Response Task Team (CVRTT) since the start of the outbreak. Under her expert guidance, the CVRTT has been able to make informed decisions regarding the Covid-19 outbreak and the effect it may have on the University and the city of Makhanda.

Prof Walker, who is a Professor of Pharmaceutics and was the first-ever academic to receive a South African Pharmacy Council Pioneer Pharmacy Award, has been at the helm of the University’s World Health Organisation-accredited sanitiser manufacturing project since early March of 2020. What started out as a small initiative to produce sanitiser for the University and Makhanda when this much-needed commodity became scarce, quickly turned into a collaboration with the Eastern Cape Provincial Health Department that has produced in excess of 5000 litres to date. Furthermore, world-class training is now being rolled out by the Pharmacy Faculty, also at no cost to government, to rural communities in sanitiser manufacturing under the auspices of the Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform.

“All of these efforts speak to the drive Rhodes University academics have to serve their community and their country. Rhodes University wishes Professors Dorrington and Walker all the best in their new significant roles. We take pride in their expertise, professionalism and commitment to serve,” said Dr Sizwe Mabizela, Vice-Chancellor for Rhodes University.

Professor Rosemary Dorrington