24 April 1998

Today's (24/4/98) University of Queensland graduation ceremony for Tropical Health, Public Health and Nutrition proSgrams will have a strong international flavour.

Degree recipients include students from Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Fiji, China and Mozambique, as well as Australia.

The ceremony, organised by the Australian Centre for International and Tropical Health and Nutrition (ACITHN), takes place at the Westpac Auditorium, Bancroft Centre, 300 Herston Road, Herston, starting at 3.45pm.

ACITHN combines the teaching and research strengths of the University's Tropical Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Health Programs with the Tropical Health section of the Queensland Institute of Medical Research.

This will also be a particularly memorable day for double prizewinner, Australian Sallie Cairnduff.

Ms Cairnduff is the first winner of the ACTM Medal, sponsored by the Australasian College of Tropical Medicine, which recognises outstanding academic performance in the master of tropical health program.

With Jane Bell and Xuehong Wu, Ms Cairnduff also shares the 1998 Garry Quayle Memorial Prize for excellence in student research.

This master of tropical health field group conducted a study entitled: Can we predict what mothers do? Modelling childhood respiratory illness in North Malaita, Solomon Islands.

Field studies are an integral part of the Tropical Health Program. The students work in groups of three or four in collaboration with institutions in Thailand, the Philippines or the Solomon Islands.

Other field work topics this year were a review of the diabetes screening and control program in Thailand, and an examination of issues affecting the sexual health of youth in Honiara, Solomon Islands.

University Chancellor Sir Llewellyn Edwards will award 11 masters of public health, 11 masters of tropical health, six masters of community nutrition, four PhDs, a postgraduate diploma of public health and a graduate certificate in tropical health.

The master of public health program (MPH), run through the Queensland Centre for Public Health, is based at Brisbane's three metropolitan campuses - the University of Queensland, Griffith and QUT.

A major new development in 1997 was flexible delivery of the program and improved access to MPH throughout Queensland. Electronic communication has opened up this professional training to people in the most remote areas of the State.

Along with the masters program, a postgraduate diploma has been offered for the past three years and a graduate certificate is planned for the future.

Topics for MPH dissertations this year included oral health care among adult Chinese immigrants in Brisbane (Shao Yin Chen), ciguatera fish poisoning incidents in Queensland (Nicholas Harvey), falls by the elderly (Nancye Peel), and melanoma among Queensland adolescents (Philippa Youl).

Therese Engeler researched breast-feeding in the Torres Strait Islands, Rose-Ann Micallef examined referrals from accident and emergency wards to community groups for the provision of support for the disabled, while Farrukh Fayyaz Lodhi, a doctor from Pakistan, completed her MPH mid-year and has returned to her position as medical officer at a hospital in Islamabad.

The Tropical Health Program is committed to supporting the development of health services staff working in South-East Asia, the South Pacific and the developing world generally.

The four PhD students graduating today are all from this program and include Cielo Pasay whose thesis looked at genetic diversity among malarial parasites in the Philippines and the implications of this for malaria control programs.

Beverley Kerr and Scott Burrows both concentrated on immune responses to Epstein-Barr virus, a herpes virus which infects most humans at some time in their lives.

Scott Thomson, a molecular biologist now working in Sydney, also studied immunology with a particular focus on ways of improving the efficient delivery of viral vaccines.

The master of community nutrition, one of the few courses of its kind in the world, is coordinated by the University of Queensland and involves collaboration with universities in Thailand and Malaysia.

Eight months of course work is completed in Brisbane followed by field work in rural and urban areas of South-East Asia.

The candidates graduating today are Leni Causing, Sylvia Mendoza and Gigi Ann Ramos, from the Philippines, Fulori Lewatoga Sarai, from Fiji, and Australians Elizabeth Story and Aletia Twist.

For further information, contact Mary Okello (Tropical Health Program, telephone 3365 5393) or Dr Peter O'Rourke (Public Health Program, telephone 3365 5335).