Dr Yogandree Ramsamy.

UKZN PhD Student Wins Prestigious Continental Award

UKZN PhD student, Dr Yogandree Ramsamy, was recently awarded the 2018 Institute Mérieux-ICAN Young Investigator Award in recognition of her research into Antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

‘I am very excited and proud to have represented South Africa, Africa, KwaZulu-Natal and UKZN as part of NHLS-UKZN joint staff in receiving this prestigious award. It brought me great honour to receive it for UKZN, the NHLS and South Africa,’ said an excited Ramsamy.

Ramsamy received the sought-after award for 2018 at the recently held ICAN (Infection Control Africa Network) Congress.

The Institut Mérieux and its entities have, for many years, been committed to the fight against AMR and improvement of Antibiotic Stewardship (AMS). Yearly, the Institut Mérieux allocates awards worldwide to researchers at the beginning of their career in recognition of a major achievement having significant impact on the handling of AMR.

Ramsamy’s award comes with much needed funding toward research in AMR and AMS since she is a medical doctor specialising as a Medical Microbiologist at the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) Microbiology Laboratory in Prince Mshiyeni Memorial Hospital. She enjoys serving the community of Umlazi and making a difference to many lives each day.

‘AMR is an enormous problem globally and in South Africa. Along with TB and HIV, AMR poses a threat to the health, safety and wellbeing of every individual on the African continent,’ said Ramsamy. ‘With the rapid emergence of drug resistant bacteria, many clinicians are now faced with untreatable infections; hence the problem of antimicrobial resistance can no longer be ignored,’ she continued. Simply put, an antimicrobial agent that was used to treat an infection 10 years ago may no longer be effective due to bacteria developing resistance to the action of the antimicrobial agent. According to Ramsamy, clinicians often find themselves running out of antimicrobial therapeutic options to treat infectious diseases.

‘AMS is a multidisciplinary tool used to tackle the problem of AMR. Reducing unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions, limiting the use of broad-spectrum antimicrobials to only when necessary, prudent use of therapeutic combinations, pathogen surveillance and the adoption of infection prevention and control precautions in preventing the spread of infections are crucial elements of AMS. Antimicrobial resistance is not only a problem in human health but also a challenge in animals used for food production and in the environment. Conserving precious antimicrobial agents for future generations is therefore the responsibility of each and every individual,’ explained Ramsamy.

She is really passionate about the fight against AMR with the bulk of her research and scientific contributions focused on AMR and AMS. ‘My Master’s project, supervised by Professor Muckart focused on AMS. I am currently pursuing a PhD under the strong mentorship of Professor Koleka Mlisana and Professor Sabiha Essack,’ she said.

Words: Nombuso Dlamini

Photograph supplied