Community Psychology Master program at Birzeit University, Palestine

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1 Community Psychology Master program at Birzeit University, Palestine Birzeit University, Birzeit, Palestine; Ibrahim Makkawi Lillehammer University College NTNU, Trondheim; Sven Hroar Klempe

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3 The impact on development in the region Ownership The programme was initiated by some few community psychologists at Birzeit University To give local stakeholders devices for demonstrating the importance of a certain competence is the most efficient way to influence a region Building up competence The competence in community psychology has exponentially increased during these years Weaken the position of the NGOs in the region Good helpers may represent a problem as long as they are only promoting their own solutions

4 The most important lessons learned from the project cooperation: Local initiative important There might be interest conflicts between stakeholders on a lower (professors) and a higher level (vice president/board) Building up infrastructure is important Doctoral programs for the best candidates Project coordinators who know how to communicate across cultural borders

5 How may the lessons learned guide future cooperation projects? Ask for what is needed by stakeholders/experts on different levels from the region Financial support for building up infrastructure is a requirement for quality Financing of doctoral students is a requirement to make a program sustainable Financing of collaborative research is a requirement Interventions on a ministerial level is sometimes necessary

6 Assessment of microbial pollution and diversity of E. coli and Shigella in freshwater resources in Bangladesh (NUFUPRO-2007/10063) Department of Microbiology, University of Dhaka (coordinator: Sirajul Islam Khan) and Department of Biology, University of Bergen (coordinator: Nils-Kåre Birkeland) Other researchers: Prof. Chowdhury Ahsan, Prof. Humaira Akhter, Prof. Anowara Begum, Dr. Ziaur Rahman (all in Dhaka) Three PhD students: Ms Nafisa Azmuda, Ms Selina Akter and Ms Fatema Moni Chowdhury (all in sandwich model but enrolled at UoD) In addition to the main project, we have received Supplementary Activities (NUFUSA) funding for: 1) Academic writing course and 2) Dissemination of results Scientific focus on the diversity, distribution and survivability of enteropathogenic bacteria, e.g. Shigella spp. and E. coli in surface water

7 Diarrheal diseases are responsible for up to 100, 000 deaths (mostly children) annually in Bangladesh, with Shigella and E. coli as major disease-causing agents. Shigellosis (bacillary dysentery) is a particularly dreadful diarrheal disease, with heavy excretions of blood and mucus. Pathogenic types of E. coli usually causes milder forms of diarrhea, but certain pathogenic types can causer severe diarrheal disease Normally, Shigella is not found in healthy humans, while E. coli is a normal component of the gut flora of human and animals, but a number of disease-causing E. coli strains exist. Both organisms are mainly disseminated by contaminated food and water. Shigella is extremely difficult to detect and recover from surface water while E. coli is easily recovered and is being used as a fecal indicator. The two organisms are closely related. Shigella invading the mucosal epithelium E. coli

8 Main goals: Infrastructure: Improve the research facilities at the environmental/molecular laboratory in Dhaka Education: Train PhD and Master students in environmental and molecular microbiology as related to health Science: Improve the knowledge of the environmental biology of Shigella and E. coli in surface waters of Bangladesh Main results: An advanced and functional microbiology lab established 12 Master students graduated, 4 still in progress 3 PhD students in thesis writing stage Highlights from scientific results: 1. Through design of novel culture media and isolation procedures we have succeeded in isolation of a number of Shigella-like strains from surface waters (by resuscitation from a dormant state). Some of these isolates are atypical (i.e. different from clinical strains) and do not possess pathogenic properties. This is a breakthrough in the study of the environmental biology of Shigella. Extensive transfer of Shigella genes between bacterial species has also been demonstrated.

9 2. We have monitored the seasonal and geographic distribution pattern of all the pathogenic E. coli types (EHEC, ETEC, EIEC etc.) in surface waters covering a large part of Bangladesh (46 sites). This has provided a better understanding of the fluctuations and possible influence of abiotic factors. 3. Through molecular bacterial community analyses we have determined the near-complete composition and seasonal variation of bacteria in a few sites. The work includes stateof-the-art deep sequencing. This is the first time such an indepth analyses have been performed in tropical surface waters. 4. A non-pathogenic Shigella-like isolate is being evaluated as a possible vaccine candidate. Immunization with a non-pathogenic strain provides protection against virulent strains in guinea pig eye tests (Sereny tests), which is a test for invasiveness.

10 Challenges/ problems: Since this is a sandwich model, students taking courses in Bergen should be given course credit in Dhaka. Too rigid regulations at DU made this a problem. Very time-consuming (lengthy) procedures for PhD admission in Dhaka (a bureaucratic process that may take more than 9 months) A bottle neck: Lack of adequate academic/ scientific writing capability among students and staff Many prospective students prefer a foreign PhD degree. Joint North-South degrees should be developed. Joint degrees would strengthen the relationship at the institutional level. Most of the best students will not join because they want a foreign degree. Logistics problems: It is often difficult to procure special scientific consumables from abroad, and its customs clearing is too time-consuming Housing of foreign PhD students in Bergen was sometimes a problem. SiB does not generally regard PhD students as students. Negotiations required.

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