Editorial: World owes debt to HIV scientist

Time magazine’s annual list of the world’s 100 most influential people includes a South African HIV specialist this year.

Glenda Gray, a research professor who has dedicated her professional life to fighting the disease, was reportedly stunned when told about the accolade.

“I am just a scientist, after all,” she told City Press.

Gray’s work has earned her national and international recognition before, yet her humility was fully intact when Time contacted her, telling media later the credit belonged to her team.

A magnanimous gesture and the mark of a leader. In a nation hankering for inspiration, what better role model could a child, especially a girl, ask for?

A certain women’s political formation could benefit enormously from the fibre of someone like Gray as they push for the country’s first female president, their preferred candidate unfortunately beginning to resemble a proxy of the country’s incumbent, Jacob Zuma, who is hardly a torchbearer for gender equality.

A dedicated scientist like Gray often makes great strides because of great sacrifice. Indeed, Gray’s research has come at a hefty cost to her family, with her three children growing up accustomed to mom’s absence.

Compare her contribution to the words of SABC moocher Hlaudi Motsoeneng, who declared last year as he began his sorry slide into inanity and narcissistic delusion that there was no need for scientific research to inform his policies.

Of all the nonsense he has spouted, this remark was right up there. Our nation understands the need for more, not less, scientific endeavour, starting at the crucible of our hopes for a prosperous future: school.

The education system is falling short of the output required to sustain a profitable level of research and development into the future.

No country can hope to control its destiny unless it invests in science. Gray’s achievements (and we must mention there are peers of equal stature) should act as a springboard for a new scientific leap.

South Africa owes a debt to Gray. Make that all of humanity if she finds the elusive HIV vaccine one day.

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