The 4th edition of the joint Masters in Tropical Animal Health officially started. From 29 January to 7 February ITM faculty members joined colleagues at the University of Pretoria (UP) in South Africa for a successful launch. In total 11 countries were represented by the 24 students, from the Philippines through Ghana to the Netherlands.
For some, this was the first time outside of their home country. Curiosity, excitement but also a bit of hesitation reigned among the students. “What can we expect, what will happen during the next days?”
The first week was spent on campus. The students were introduced to the library, the tools that they will be using during the online part of the course, and a number of modules: research methodology, laboratory diagnostics and basic epidemiology using R. The busy programme certainly did not leave room for much rest.
From 2-7 February, the students, along with a number of academic and administrative staff from ITM and UP travelled to the Hans Hoheisen Wildlife Research Centre. During these 5 days the students were introduced to the One Health basic concepts module, experiencing the challenges for health at the interface of humans, domestic animals, livestock, wildlife and the complex natural environment surrounding the area. Field trips were made to human and animal clinics, and to a wildlife centre focusing on the sustainable use of environmental resources. Students were divided into small groups to focus on a specific disease case, which provided a clear framework for them to interact with local experts. At the end of the week, each group gave a presentation outlining their case from three perspectives: human, veterinary and environmental. The students enthusiastically participated in the lectures, group work, and field trip activities, asked lots of relevant questions and showed great interest and commitment. The contributions from public health, epidemiology, virology, microbiology, parasitology experts who presented to and coached the students and participated in the discussions were outstanding and greatly contributed to the success of the week. Over the coming months, the students will continue to work on these cases and explore how an integrated “One Health” approach can be used to deal with the challenges seen at the different interfaces.
Both the on-campus part and the visit to the Hans Hoheisen Wildlife Research Centre have been a great environment to plant the seeds, which with hard work and nourishment will hopefully turn into forests and fields by the end of the two years.
Certainly, we could experience that the interdependence of human, animal and environmental health cannot be ignored and that cross-disciplinary collaboration is essential.
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