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Ladder Award: to Massey University for its international epidemic-prevention programs

A Ladder is awarded to Massey University’s Professor Emeritus Roger Morris and its Vice Chancellor Steve Maharey. This is for the university’s strikingly imaginative and timely outreach program in the form of its innovative international biosecurity courses. See Massey in Asian health training deal (The Press, Business, 16 July 2010)

Already teaching 69 public health students about recognizing and responding to potential epidemic outbreaks on-site in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal, Massey University has now also won a World Bank contract to train 250 Asian public health workers in their own countries over the next three years. This contract is worth $5.2 million dollars, and its value may stretch to $32 million if its current English-language degree programme courses are developed also in Chinese and Russian.

According to the report on this development, “Vice-chancellor Steve Maharey gave credit to a Massey academic, Professor Emeritus Roger Morris – an epidemiologist who has been at the frontline of efforts to combat the bird flu epidemic since 2005 – for recognising the opportunity and the putting the case for Massey to provide the teaching.”

Massey has long specialised in providing online university education throughout New Zealand, and it is exciting to see the university so imaginatively extending this to the wider world. The report says that “the teaching is being done through a mixture of distance education and face-to-face teaching at regional sessions.”

There is a widespread need for building up expertise to deal with potential epidemics. As the Vice Chancellor said, “In the past decade there has been an upsurge in infections diseases that affect people and animals, such as bird flu, swine flu, HIV/Aids, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).”

It is especially worth noting how this project can help to bring needed expertise to parts of the world that have been vulnerable to major mass epidemics and not always well-equipped to deal with them. With modern travel and transport such epidemics can now also quickly spread from anywhere to almost everywhere.

This is one reason why it is important to develop global knowledge society projects such as this one from Massey University.

Village-Connections highly commends and would like to see the kind of thinking that went into this project to be applied to other projects that support and enhance the well-being of members of individual villages everywhere and so, ultimately, the global village.

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