The University of Guyana (UG) has launched another four Bachelor’s degree programmes, each of which will help students to improve environmental health in various sectors of Guyana.
These four new programmes are in: Food Safety, Occupational Health and Safety, Environmental Engineering and Vector Control. These programmes fall under the School of Allied Health, of the College of Medical Sciences, at the local university.
At the programmes’ virtual launch on Monday, Dean of the College of Medical Sciences Dr. Cecil Boston said that these programmes, tackling specific areas of environmental health- including food safety, builds upon the university’s prior environmental health programmes that were “broad and generalised”.
Dr. Boston also said that the university rolled out these programmes in response to a call to strengthen the skills of environmental health officers, made by Health Ministers of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
Further, he related that it was necessary for Caribbean people to adapt to the increased and expanded range of challenges and responsibilities that environmental health officers face within the expansion of the food industry, the spread of vector-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue fever, and the evolving tourism industry.
Importantly, he also highlighted that there needs to be a greater focus on how climate change impacts human health.
Various speakers throughout the nearly two hours’ long virtual event articulated how each of the programmes will help to transform the local environmental health sector and each of fields this sector intersects.
Vice-Chancellor of the university Professor Paloma Mohammed, speaking about the four programmes, stated, “There are very many jobs in these areas and they won’t disappear tomorrow.”
Specifically on the degree in Occupational Health and Safety, though, she related that service providers within the oil and gas industry have signalled their interest in engaging individuals trained in this field.
Similar sentiments were echoed by Dr. Emanuel Cummings, the university’s Deputy Vice- Chancellor for Academic Engagement. But, Dr. Cummings also emphasised that the degree in vector control will help to support local health authorities tackle communicable diseases
Food safety, too, he said, is crucial as countries strive towards achieving food security for all people.
“When we speak about food security, an important element of food security is food safety because you can have an abundance of food but, is the food safe?” the Deputy Vice- Chancellor stated.
The university is currently engaged in a registration process ahead of the new academic year and is accepting applications for these programmes.