Durban doctor named a world peace ambassador

2013-09-30 00:00

DURBAN public health specialist Dr Nirvadha Singh has been named Ambassador of World Peace at the International World Peace Conference in India.

Singh said in an interview yesterday she was proud to have received the title as a South African in particular, given its history of fighting for freedom and of struggle.

“I’m bringing it back for every South African to further the process of understanding the concept of peace within ourselves,” she said.

“Inner peace allows one to think positively to focus clearer on the internal self and external environment. Without it, dealing with normal external life factors becomes difficult,” she added.

She was awarded the title earlier this month for introducing peace education into health care and community activities, for the first time in the world.

Singh said she would like to see peace education introduced at primary school level in South Africa to re-introduce a sense of spiritual and social wellbeing, and tolerance and respect for others, to children from a young age.

She said education currently only focused on the practical aspects of life, such as through the subjects of history, mathematics and geography.

A standardised approach to tolerance and respect for others at primary school level would boost the moral value systems of children, particularly those that came from abusive or from difficult socio-economic environments, where they may not have been exposed to such values, she believes.

Singh said globally endemic poverty was evidenced by the 1,3 billion people who live on less than a dollar a day.

There was a strong association between violence, poverty and unemployment with an increase in the incidence of the rape and abuse of women and children.

“Health must be perceived as not only a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing, but also a state of spiritual wellbeing. The body is congruent with the mind and cannot be dissociated if peace is to be attained.”

According to her, high levels of crime, and religious intolerance as evidenced by several conflicts around the world, indicated that many people in society had lost their sense of tolerance and respect for others.

Currently, Singh is a governor of Cansa KZN, medico-legal adviser to King Edward VIII Hospital, public health adviser to the KZN United Music Industry Association and chief executive officer of Convergence Health, a public health consultancy.

She is also involved in campaigns to raise awareness against drug abuse, HIV, TB, teenage pregnancy, woman and child abuse, violence and cancer.

In between she still manages to pen a column for the newspaper Satyagraha (Gandhi Development Trust), where she writes about world and health issues. She was also a public health adviser in the planning of the healthcare system for the 2010 Fifa World Cup Soccer in Durban.

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