The Department of Public and Environmental Health of the University of The Gambia (UTG) in collaboration of with the Centre for International Rural and Environmental Health (CIREH) College of Public Health, University of Iowa, USA, launched a Science, Technology and Innovation Park at Farababantang on Tuesday, 5 February 2013.
With funding from the NATIONAL Institute of Health (NIH) in the US, the Park will be conducting research in occupational and environmental health in West Africa.
In his opening statement, Dr. Rex Kuyt, head of the Department of Public and Environmental Health of the UTG, expressed delight in welcoming the guests from the University of Iowa, adding that this is not the first time they are visiting the Gambia. He said this Programme has really energized them to be able to tackle public health matters both locally and globally in a changing century. He said the primary objective of this multi-disciplinary project is to create a centre for collaborative research, data management, policy support and training on environmental vocational health in low and middle income countries.
Dr. Kuyt disclosed that a total of 2.2million dollars has been provided as a grant to support this project for a period of two year s for more than fifteen countries and that each hub will be managed by an institution to be based in both the United States of America and the host country, with both receiving direct awards. He also said that the Gambia is among the four countries that won the highly competitive award and that the others are Ethiopia, Ghana and Uganda.
The Head of the Department of Public and Environmental Health of the UTG highlighted that the goals of the research in the Gambia are to provide a need based assessment, needs and opportunity assessment, and also exploratory activities that will help them to identify current environmental and health challenges within the sub-region. He added that they will be working with other stakeholders in the health sector both locally and outside.
Professor Mohammadou Kah, the UTG Vice Chancellor, also welcomed the guests from the University of Iowa to what he described as an "historic occasion". He expressed his hope that Gambians, especially the youth, would be inspired and motivated to work tirelessly to see to it that the science, technology and Innovation park is able to tackle the issue of both curable and incurable diseases in the country, adding that they will also use this ground to optimize their potentials and take their right positions in the community of science and technology across the world.
Prof. Kah said this is a milestone achievement but not yet time for celebrations. He said he hopes that this centre will address the health challenges that they are confronted with. He also expressed his gratitude to the National Institute of Health for funding the research institution.
The UTG Vice Chancellor concluded by expressing his appreciation for the attendance of the officials, students and the invited guests.
Prof. Fortes delivered a Public Lecture. (Foroyaa will publish the text in subsequent editions).
Other speakers included Prof. Thomas Cook who gave a brief history of the University of Iowa and its purposes.
The ceremony was chaired by the Acting Registrar, Mr. Momodou L. Tarro, and was graced by public health students of both the University of the Gambia and the Gambia College.