Some of the participants and organizers of the Postgraduate Diploma in Pesticide Risk Management. Front: Losalini Lewenqila (Fiji). Middle, from left: Carmen Bullon (FAO), Dr Andrea Rother (programme convenor) and Barbara Dinham (Previous Director, Pesticide Action Network, UK and course material developer). Back, from left: Prof Mohamed Jeebhay, Joshua Odhiambo (Kenya), Fereti Atumurirara (Fiji) and Khalid Cassam (Mozambique).
The Faculty celebrated the launch of the inaugural Postgraduate Diploma in Pesticide Risk Management on Thursday, 31 March 2011, convened by Dr Andrea Rother, Health Risk Management Programme Leader in the Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health Research . The course brings together students from countries as diverse as Fuji and St Lucia, as well as a wide range of African countries including Botswana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Prof Thandabantu Nhlapo officially welcomed the 18 students, who will be on campus for two weeks, before returning to their home countries to complete the coursework online, making use of the University's "Vula" system. They will then return at the end of 2012 to write final examinations and graduate.
Prof Nhlapo explained that this type of programme is seen as being very important within the framework of the University's academic plan as Afropolitanism remains a University-wide strategic priority. "People who are assets in our countries don't have to go abroad to study the issues of Africa, and we are not sitting in South Africa, isolated from the rest of Africa and its issues," he said.
Dr Rother acknowledged the role of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, who approached her two years ago to initiate the course around the UN Code of Conduct on the Distribution and Use of Pesticides, which covers issues around the regulation of pesticides, the health effects of pesticide use, and toxicology and ecotoxicology training, as well as . The FAO is one of the funders of the course, the other being the Swedish Chemical Agency (KemI).
Prof Mohamed Jeebhay, acting head of the School of Public Health and Family Medicine, added his good wishes to the participants, and thanked Dr Rother for her efforts in establishing this course, which he described as "another feather in our cap in terms of our outreach programmes".
Dr Rother added that all of the materials developed for this course are "open source" and will be available as a resource to both participants and the general public.
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