Leading scientists and academics in KwaZulu-Natal from a range of scientific disciplines will come together with civil society and citizens in a March for Science 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 Africa Health Research Institute (AHRI), the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC), and the Maternal, Adolescent and Child Health (MatCH) Systems have joined forces in solidarity 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,” said 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.”

The march in Durban forms part of the international March for Science, aimed to increase public awareness of the importance of science in addressing the many challenges we face, including climate change, food security and life threatening epidemics.
“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 is being celebrated on Saturday 22nd April. “The marches that are happening worldwide not only make a powerful statement regarding the value of scientists and scientific research, but also provide 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 UKZN.

“In a world of increasing threats from the likes of climate change and infectious disease, science plays an essential role in the understanding of these threats, and amelioration of their causes and effects,” said Professor Deenan Pillay, Director of the Africa Health Research Institute. “South Africa itself has the huge double burden of HIV and TB which together represent a major cause of premature death and ill health. Many advances in these fields have come directly from science research, and application of these findings into practice. It is essential that scientific knowledge underpins decisions on government policy, to lead to the long-term well-being of our people.”

*The march will begin in front of the Durban City Hall at 10am and will proceed to the Gugu Dlamini Park. The marchers will then assemble at the Gugu Dlamini Park for about an hour, where there will be interactive exhibits from various scientific disciplines on display. Everyone is welcome to join the march. Get more details about the global event here.