International Initiatives (Fogarty projects)

International Initiatives (Fogarty projects)

The Southern African International Training and Research in Environmental and Occupational Health (ITREOH) funded by the Fogarty International Center of the US National Institute of Health, and co-ordinated by the University of Michigan.

Responsible person : Professor Rajen Naidoo
Administration: Ms. Jenny Pillay

Activities:

Support for postgraduate training
Organisation of biennial planning conference
Co-ordination of short courses
Support for junior to mid level researchers

Synopsis Of The University Of Michigan Application To The Fogarty International Center To Support Training And Research In Environmental

And Occupational Health In Southern Africa

16 March 2001

The Director of the programme is Professor Thomas G. Robins, MD MPH, from the University of Michigan. This was a competitive renewal following the successful previous five year cycle of the grant (1996 – 2001). The first cycle had a special focus on South Africa. 

This is a competitive renewal application from the University of Michigan to support research and training in environmental and occupational health in Southern Africa. The application was submitted on 16 March, 2001 to the Fogarty International Center in the U.S. National Institutes of Health in response to a Request For Applications. The majority of the funding to support successful applicants comes from the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and U.S. National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences. The proposed dates of the University of Michigan project are 30 September, 2001 through 29 September, 2006, with a total 5-year budget of greater than 1.5 million dollars U.S. Prof. Thomas Robins (Univ of Michigan) will serve as the Project Director. Drs. Mohamed Jeebhay (Univ of Cape Town)and Rajen Naidoo (Univ of Natal) are the Co-Programme Managers. Prof Jonny Myers (Univ of Cape Town), Ms. Cecilia Mulindeti (SADC-ELS) and Dr. Rajen Naidoo are listed as the Major Foreign Collaborators of the project.

Collaborating regional and international institutions include the Southern Africa Development Community Employment & Labour Sector, the Southern Africa Development Community Health Sector, the World Health Organization, and the Swedish National Institute for Working Life. A non-exhaustive list of collaborating institutions in South Africa includes the University of Cape Town Department of Public Health and Primary Health Care, the University Of Natal Department of Community Health, the National Centre for Occupational Health in the Department of Health, the Department of Minerals and Energy, the Safety in Mines Research Advisory Council, the Medical Research Council, Natal Technikon, Peninsula Technikon, and the Industrial Health Research Group.

This application represents an integrated effort to assist the further development of environmental and occupational health (EOH) infrastructure and human resources in Southern Africa, with a particular emphasis on improving research training and capacities. The proposed program design has been carefully constructed to taking cognizance of the situational analysis for South Africa and the SADC region to arrive at a coordinated, cost-effective strategy for building regional capacity in environmental and occupational health (EOH). The specific elements of the situational analysis which drive the program plan include that occupational medicine and occupational epidemiology are quite well developed at a few centers in South Africa, with occupational hygiene less well developed but rapidly progressing. The development of environmental health in South Africa, and the availability of posts in this field, is weaker. There exist well-established programs in occupational health such as Diplomas in Occupational Health (DOHs), and new masters programs in public health and occupational hygiene have been launched in the country. In contrast, in most of the other SADC nations, human resource development in the EOH is quite weak. Only a few scattered universities are offering graduate degree programs in these areas. Another notable impediment to research capacity development in EOH in the region is the lack of readily accessible funds to support junior- to mid-career-level EOH researchers. An additional element of the situational analysis is the convergence of strong interest in supporting EOH in Southern Africa of several international actors, most notably, WHO/ILO and the Swedish National Institute for Working Life, together with the strong desire of the Employment and Labor and the Health Sectors in SADC to address issues in occupational health. There is also a growing recognition of the need for collaboration and coordination on the part of all partners to ensure effective interventions. Other factors driving the program plan include the relatively high cost of supporting degree candidates in the United States as compared to supporting such candidates in South Africa, the wide geographic dispersion of the country’s represented in SADC, and the development and demonstration of the effectiveness of technology-based, distance learning degree programs elsewhere in Africa and other parts of the developing world.

Based on an analysis of all these factors, the program plan emphasizes: 1) capacity building in the SADC nations outside of South Africa with more than half of program funds expended toward this end; 2) the use of regionally available resources, mostly found in South Africa, including high quality degree programs to increase program cost effectiveness; 3) development of new, high-quality master degree programs, e.g., occupational hygiene; 4) the sequenced development of technology-based, distance learning degree programs to substantially increase access for citizens of SADC nations; 5) highly focused use of resources for training at the University of Michigan of a) PhD and Masters degree candidates, and b) post-doctoral and masters level senior researchers; 6) funding of short courses led by University of Michigan faculty, in disciplines and areas for which sufficient expertise is lacking in the Southern African region (occupational hygiene, environmental health, etc.); 7) substantial support for the regionally based research endeavors of persons in both South Africa and other SADC nations early in their professional careers, with a special emphasis on intervention and control research projects; and, 8) regional consensus building through periodic meetings of key stakeholders and actors in the EOH to review progress and adjust research and training priorities for the region and for the Fogarty grant in response to developing conditions.

This program plan will be realized through the accomplishment of the following Specific Aims:

  • To recruit, select, and enroll, with full funding, three citizens of Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) nations in University of Michigan PhD or Masters Degree programs in EOH.
  • To recruit, select, and fund nine citizens of SADC nations to complete one to six month programs of study or collaboration at University of Michigan in laboratory or research methodologies in EOH.
  • To deliver a series of 13 one-week short courses team taught by U of M faculty and local experts to EOH professionals in Southern Africa.
  • To recruit and select up to 54 citizens of SADC nations other than South Africa to receive full scholarships for the completion of diplomas or degrees in EOH fields being offered at South African academic institutions.
  • To assist in the development and delivery of two advanced level occupational hygiene courses offered as part of a Masters Degree program in occupational hygiene at the National Centre for Occupational Health in Johannesburg.
  • To assist in the development and delivery of two to three web-based diploma or degree programs in EOH to be offered in the SADC region by South African academic institutions.
  • To directly support the in-country EOH research of up to 38 junior to mid level researchers from SADC nations.
  • To sponsor three biennial conferences to review regional developments in EOH, assist in setting of regional research priorities, review the activities conducted under this grant, and develop consensus around planned future actions.