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MMUST DEVELOPS PIONEER COURSE IN BIOSAFETY AND BIOSECURITY

Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST) is developing a new undergraduate program ‘Bachelor of Science in Biosafety and Biosecurity,’ the only one of its kind in Kenya and beyond. This is in collaboration with the International Federation of Biosafety Associations (IFBA) and technical expertise from the University of British Columbia’s Department of Safety and Risk Service. The move towards the pioneer course in Biosafety and Biosecurity was discussed extensively at the two-day Curriculum Review Workshop organized by MMUST’s Medical Laboratory Sciences (MLS) Department on 2nd and 3rd June 2022, at Golf Hotel, Kakamega.

MLS is a department domiciled in the School of Public Health, Biomedical Sciences & Technology (SPHBST) led by the Dean, Prof. Edwin Wamukoya and Chairman of Department (CoD) Mr. Fidelis Mambo, The department has been training and mentoring students in Diploma in Medical Biotechnology, Bachelor of Science in Medical Biotechnology as well as Bachelor of Science in Medical Laboratory Sciences, plus a number of Postgraduate courses in Biomedical Sciences and Medical Laboratory Sciences.


 mls45Participants at the Biosafety and Biosecurity workshop, Golf Hotel Kakamega.


The workshop themed ‘Redefining and Cultivating Biosafety and Biosecurity Academic Program for Global Competitiveness,’ was officially opened by the Vice Chancellor Prof. Solomon Shibairo. In his address, the Vice Chancellor expressed his delight in the step taken by the MLS Department in ensuring that MMUST has the opportunity to offer Bachelor of Science in Biosafety and Biosecurity, a rare program that will see our students graduate as Biosafety/ Biosecurity and Bio-risk management professionals. “We are happy to mount this program that has never been delivered anywhere else. MMUST will be the pioneer,” he said.

“As a premier University in Science, Technology and Innovation, academic excellence is a major pillar in our Strategic Plan. We support rapid and intricate changes stemming from a global and national philosophical shift from a knowledge-based society into a Competency-Based Society,” stated the Deputy Vice Chancellor Planning, Research and Innovation, Prof. Charles Mutai.

The Deputy Vice Chancellor Academic and Students Affairs, Prof. Hussein Golicha appreciated the effort by the MLS Department. He shared the curriculum review process with the participants and urged the team to start working on this particular course as soon as possible, targeting the KUCCPS and PSSP students. “Bio safety is not new in Kenya, I therefore urge you to look into what other organizations are doing, and fill the gaps,” he added.

Representing the Dean, School of Public Health, Biomedical Sciences & Technology (SPHBST) Prof. Edwin Wamukoya, Dr. Maximila Wanzala stated that the School was keen on improving the quality of students’ education and training in Biosafety.


 newprog3DVC Academic and Students Affairs, Prof. Hussein Golicha presents Certificate of participation to Ms. Maureen Ellis.


Speaking during an interview, Executive Director IFBA and partner from Canada, Ms. Maureen Ellis stated that this project will put MMUST on the global map. She further noted the increased demand for Bio safety professionals saying that the project will make Biosafety a career after being behind the scenes for a long time.

“COVID-19 pandemic has placed a significant demand on the Biosafety and Biosecurity profession yet there is shortage of these specialized individuals in many countries,” added Ms. Ellis.

The other partners from Canada included, Ms. Erin Fahey, Administrative Manager, International Federation of Biosafety Association (IFBA), Ms. Janet Hankins, Manager Research Compliance and Occupational Hygiene, University of British Columbia and the Network Coordinator IFBA East Africa, Mr. Albert Bunyasi.


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Chairman of the Department (CoD), Mr. Fidelis Mambo speaks at the workshop.


The workshop offered an opportunity to discuss in detail the implications of curricula design and modularization for progression and assessment. Some of the experts invited to facilitate the review process included Prof. Judah Ndiku – ‘Curriculum Review at MMUST: A Strategic Management Approach’, Mr. James Sakwa – ‘The DMLS Biosafety Biosecurity Journey’, Mr. Fidelis Mambo – ‘BSc in Biosafety and Biosecurity Curriculum Structure Review’ and the Director of Quality Assurance, Prof. Danstone Lilechi Baraza. In his presentation, ‘Quality Assurance in Curriculum Implementation and Evaluation,’ Prof. Baraza discussed the requirements for course approval and urged the pioneers of the program to bear in mind factors such as infrastructure as they push forward with the approval and certification of the course. 


newprog5DCCM’s Mr. James Muriithi explains a point during his presentation


MMUST’s Marketing Officer, Mr. James Muriithi gave a detailed presentation on ‘Marketing and Outreach for student recruitment in the context of a new undergraduate program.’ This presentation shed more light regarding the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in terms of what the University presents in its prospectus for programmes and what is communicated to current and prospective students. He assured the team that the Directorate of Corporate Communications and Marketing (DCCM) will use the University’s website, social media platforms and publications to create awareness.  

The Coordinator Webometrics, Dr. Dennis Ochieno who presented on ‘Biosecurity as an Avenue for Webometrics’ pointed out that the Biosafety and Biosecurity curriculum review and development requires webometrics policy integration. “The webometrics ranking system has placed MMUST as an equal competitor among other Universities and Research Institutes around the world, enabling it to mount the Biosafety and Biosecurity course,” he added.

Other distinguished personalities who attended the workshop were Prof. Jeremiah Seni- Director Post Graduate Studies, Catholic University of Health and Applied Sciences (CUHAS)-Bugando Mwanza, Tanzania, Dr. Patrick Okanya- Senior Lecturer and Expert in Bio-risk Management, Technical University of Kenya, the Director Corporate Communications and Marketing (DCCM), Dr. Lydia Anyonje, Lecturers MLS, Dr. Sabella Kiprono and Mr. George Sowayi. The workshop was also attended by a Disaster Management Expert Mr. Pius Masai. 

Finally, MMUST is very grateful for the funding provided by Global Affairs Canada (GAC) towards the development of this new program.


By Charity Idaya

Photos by Gabriel Juma