Researchers Tackle Parasitic Infections Mapping, PPCPs Use At AEB Seminar Series

Issues bordering on the Assessment and Mapping of Parasitic Infections and Ecotoxicity potentials of Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products (PPCPs) in Rivers State, formed the main thrust of the 8th edition of the seminar series of the Department of Animal and Environmental Biology in the Faculty of Science, which held at the Department’s Auditorium.

In a paper entitled: Assessment and Mapping of Intestinal Parasitic Infections in Rivers State Using Geographic Information System (GIS), Dr. Austin Abah, explained that his research pioneered the use of GIS to map intestinal parasitic infections in Rivers State and the rest of the country. “Through this groundbreaking research, we have been able to produce a map of infections, predict infection rate and a map of areas of risks of infections,” he explained, adding that the study was conducted in 13 of the 23 Local Government Areas of Rivers State.
“Through a case study of 13 LGAs, we were able to focus on the prevalence rate of intestinal parasites, using it to predict what the situation is in the whole State. We discovered that there is an urgent need for intervention in Ahoada LGA, while about 0.65 million children are at risk of intestinal parasitic infection in the whole of Rivers State,” Dr. Abah disclosed, listing the need to intensify efforts aimed at controlling intestinal parasitic infections, especially in the most endemic areas of the State as established by the study. He also listed aggressive school deworming, personal hygiene programmes and provision of basic amenities as critical steps that would facilitate the control of intestinal parasitic infections in Rivers State.

In her own study on the Ecotoxicity Potentials of Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products–A Case Study of Residual Paracetamol in Household Waste at the University of Port Harcourt, another Lecturer, Miss PhilominaKika, explained that her research was aimed at finding out the quality of waste, PPCPs and residual paracetamol in two selected locations on Campus.  
Recommending that waste should be properly collected, while sorting should be done on site before final disposal to reduce improper disposal of drugs via household waste, Kika stressed the need for regular public awareness programmes on the effects of illegal use, abuse and disposal of drugs as a way of reducing high level of drug resistivity. “Individuals should be encouraged to finish their drugs and reduce the use of PPCPs because of their acute and chronic effects on the environment,” she recommended.
A recipient of the Commonwealth Scholarship to pursue a Postgraduate degree in Environmental Management (Conservation) tenable at the University of Stirling, Scotland in the United Kingdom, Kika who graduated with a First Class degree in 2012 from the Department and the overall best in the Faculty of Science, said she was selected for the award because the Department was in dire need of a Conservation Biologist.
In her response, Acting Head of Department, Dr. AlineNoutcha, showered praises on the two scholars for delving into relatively new fields, describing Dr. Abah’s use of GIS in mapping infectious diseases as the first of its kind. “Miss Kika’s work on the conservation component of environmental science focuses on what exists, predicting that what exists now should be available to future generations; and this is the main motivation for conserving our fragile biodiversity,” the Acting Head of Department said. She expressed optimism that the contributions of both scholars in the areas of conservative biology and disease mapping would address some of the challenges of biodiversity conservation and infectious diseases mapping in Rivers State and the rest of the country.
Dr. Noutcha also commended Emeritus Professor Samuel Okiwelu for his continuous mentorship of both younger and senior academics in the Department, noting that the seminar series provided some staff with another opportunity to learn what they may have missed out in the classroom as students. She was also full of praises for her immediate predecessor, Professor Florence Nduka, for her uncommon interest in the promotion of research and development in the Department and mentorship of younger academics.
“I am very pleased to note that the Faculty of Science is also hoping to replicate the AEB lecture series in other departments for the benefit of lecturers and students,” she stated, promising that her Department would sustain the initiative as a mentorship process for younger academics.



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