University of The Gambia launches public health masters programs

The University of The Gambia has launched two masters degrees programs in public health in collaboration with the University of Illinois and the University of Iowa.

The programs include a masters of public health in health promotion and development and a masters of science in public health in environmental and occupational health. The courses, which will begin this semester, are the first of their kind at the university, the Daily Observer reports.

Rex Kuye, the head of the public health department, said that the two programs were conceived of locally to address growing health concerns in Gambia.

Gambia has made many public health strides in the last two decades. The nation was certified as polio free in 2004 and has had no confirmed polio cases since that time. The success in the battle against polio resulted from high political commitment and routine polio immunization coverage of more than 90 percent since 1990, according to the Foroyaa Newspaper.

"The Gambia EPI program is one of the best in the WHO African Region," Thomas Sukwa, a representative of the World Health Organization, said, according to the Foroyaa Newspaper. "It is indeed gratifying to note that the government of the Gambia remains committed to the global polio eradication initiative."

Gambia is tied for third in Africa for measles immunization coverage among one-year-olds, tied for fourth place in the world for DTP3 immunization coverage rate for one-year-olds and is ranked second on the continent for feverish children under the age of five who received antimalarial treatment, according to Trading Economics.

Gambia is also the second African country after Rwanda to utilize the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine PCV-7 in its vaccination services plan, according to Nexus.

"When public health infrastructure fails, the doctors and nurses will be inundated and that sends the message that a healthy populace is the only drive of economies," Muhamadou Mo Kah, the vice chancellor of UTG, said, according to the Daily Observer. "UTG is on the path to address the needs of the Gambian people. We at the UTG value health to a high standard."