Head of Division: Professor Hanna-Andrea Rother BA MA PhD Michigan State
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The Environmental Health Division commenced in 2014. According to the World Health Organization, environmental factors account for approximately one third of the global burden of disease, with children under five carrying the brunt. The key objective of the Environmental Health Division is to develop capacity in Low and Middle Income Countries, particularly Africa, to address environmental health risks and reduce the resulting burden of disease. We do this through a post graduate programme in Pesticide Risk Management, teaching seminars and supervising PhD and MPH students in Environmental Health, training of government professionals addressing environmental health risks, and building capacity through innovative electronic forums and networking.
Environmental health is the study of how environmental factors can harm and impact on human health, as well as how to identify, prevent and manage such effects. The Division of Environmental Health (DEH) offers a selection of activities to facilitate addressing environmental health, particularly in Low and Middle Income Countries, from teaching, research to community and government engagement. The DEH offers students and professionals post graduate and capacity building training and skills development for application to diverse environments. Our primary research informs and contributes to our active involvement with national and international policies.
We invite you to contact us and review our activities which range from:
Division of Environmental Health
School of Public Health and Family Medicine
Faculty of Health Sciences
University of Cape Town
Environmental Health Seminars
The Division provides teaching on the 1st year’s course ‘Becoming a Health Professional’, offered to all students in the Faculty of Health Sciences. The seminar introduces students to the concept of environmental health, including exposure history taking, as it fits in the social determinants of health framework.
The Division also delivers seminars to 4th-year medical students in the ‘Health in Context’ course. The environmental health teaching focuses on equipping students with skills to be able to diagnose environment-related diseases through environmental exposure history taking and advise patients on prevention measures.
Climate Change and Health Seminars
These are offered to the following UG students by means of a class lecture, related readings and assessment by means of a short essay question (yr 3) and EOB exam question (yr 4):
Prof Hanna-Andrea Rother
Ms Rebecca Mlelwa
Mr James Irlam
Prof Aqiel Dalvie
The DPRM Programme is a two-year part-time flexible learning programme (large distance learning component) targeting professionals in the field of pesticide and chemicals risk management. It includes a mandatory two-week residential session at UCT at the beginning of the two-year cycle. There will be substantial requirements for homework in the form of assignments and project related work, expected self-directed learning and regular distance communication between students and lecturers extending over the two years.
Programme Convenor: Prof Hanna-Andrea Rother
Direct all enquiries to the Division Administrator, firstname.lastname@example.org
Diploma in Pesticide Risk Management - Class of 2019
The Environmental Health track is intended for those candidates who are interested in understanding the environmental influences on human health, the policy implications, and how to identify, reduce and manage environmental health risks. Candidates will develop an understanding of key environmental health burden of diseases (i.e., chemicals, climate change, indoor and outdoor air pollution and the built environment) with a particular focus on children's environmental health issues. Coursework will prepare candidates to identify suitable interventions from decision makers to community residents.
Track Convenor: Prof Hanna-Andrea Rother
Direct all enquiries to the Programme Administrator, Mrs Tshamani Netshifhefhe
The Environmental Health Division is involved in several projects which aim to improve health, particularly for vulnerable populations, through capacity building in the areas of chemicals and pesticides. Further information on these projects is provided below:
SAICM/UCT Chemical Communities of Practice
Communities of Practice (CoPs) are voluntary networks consisting of individuals with expertise and interest in a thematic area that come together regularly to exchange and discuss their knowledge and experiences. The four SAICM (Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management)/UCT CoPs were established by the Division of Environmental Health at UCT in collaboration with SAICM, on Emerging Chemical Policy Issues to provide a space for interactive discussions and exchanges of best practices on the sound management of chemicals and waste among SAICM stakeholders.
In 2020 the following SACIM/UCT chemical CoPs were established (for more information click here):
- Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs)
- Lead in Paint (LiP)
- Chemicals in Products (CiP)
- Chemicals and the Sustainable Development Goals (CSDGs)
To join any of the Communities of Practice, click here
For further information regarding each Community of Practice, including digest summaries of discussions from previous meetings, click here. To view the PowerPoint presentations of each discussion, click here.
Capacity Building to Promote Pesticide and Chemical Risk Management, Risk Reduction, and Institutional and Regional Cooperation in LMICs
The Swedish Chemicals Agency (KemI) and the Division of Environmental Health at UCT have embarked on a new three-year capacity building project, particularly for low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), to address sustainable chemicals management globally.
This collaboration is producing outputs under three categories:
A. The Pesticide Network
B. Southern African Pesticide Regulators’ Forum (SAPReF) for regional collaboration
C. The Chemicals Network
A. UCT’s Pesticides Network
Two key outputs under this network are a weekly newsletter and bi-monthly pesticide discussion online.
1. UCT’s Pesticide weekly newsletter
The Division of Environmental Health at UCT also produces a weekly newsletter to broadcast pesticide related messages to a wide range of individuals with interests in pesticide issues.
The intention of this newsletter is to provide a global based forum for information sharing with a particular focus on African countries (e.g., news, articles and incidences), debates, and assisting in problem solving related to pesticides (i.e., questions you may have). The use of "pesticides" throughout the newsletters includes all insecticides, fungicides, nematicides, acaricides, herbicides, biocides etc. If you are interested in receiving this newsletter, kindly subscribe by entering your details in the form
2. UCT’s Pesticide Discussion Forum
The Pesticide Discussion Forum was established in 2009 and aims to encourage in-depth discussions on particular issues with regard to pesticides and the regulation of pesticides globally.
These sessions are 'presented' by subject matter experts who propose three questions to focus the session. All members are then welcome to respond to the questions posed and to each other’s commentary. The discussion is joined by pesticide regulators, resource stakeholders and experts.
2020 Pesticide Discussion Forum Digests can be accessed here
This regional body shares data and works together to improve on the registration, regulation and
control of pesticides in the region to protect human health and the environment, as well on
alternatives, biopesticides and the Global Harmonisation System (GHS). SAPReF not only receives support from KemI, but also technical and project support from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), as well as technical and expertise and support from UCT. Additional support has also been provided by the USAID Feed the Future Seed Trade Project.
SAPReF is led by a steering committee of 6 members selected by the full membership, supported by institutions within the pesticide and environment industry. The steering committee meets virtually every 6-8 weeks and meets annually in person. The current Chair of SAPReF is Botswana, the Vice Chair is Zambia, and the Secretary is Zimbabwe. For more information about SAPReF, go to their website
C. UCT’s Chemicals Network
The Division of Environmental Health (DEH) at the University of Cape Town’s School of Public Health and Family Medicine launched the Chemicals Network in 2020 to facilitate the sharing of knowledge around sound chemicals and waste management and to establish a platform where stakeholders can meet and discuss key issues around sound chemicals and waste management in the hopes of building the capacity of LMIC’s to improve on sound chemicals and waste management practices.
The Chemicals Network hosts regular online discussions throughout the year that engage network members from all sectors and regions around the world on various topics around chemicals and waste management. These discussions are presented by experts in these areas and are a great opportunity for participants to hear experiences from other countries and organisations as well as share experiences from their own country or organisation. In addition to these discussions, a Chemicals Network Newsletter is sent out before each discussion outlining the topic of the upcoming discussion and some interesting news, articles and opportunities related to the discussion.
After each discussion, a summary is produced to highlight what was said at the discussion and the key points that can be taken away.
UCT’s Chemical Network 2020 Discussion digests can be accessed here
To join the Chemicals Network and subscribe to the Chemicals Network Newsletter, click here
The Division of Environmental Health conducts research on identifying and implementing the most suitable approaches for capacity building of professionals in Low and Middle Income Countries. These include, yet are not limited to, distance learning, electronic networking and environmental health seminars via the internet.
Possible PhD and Master of Public Health thesis topics to be pursued under the supervision of Division staff include:
UCT Pesticide risk communication materials that can be copied and used under a creative common licence:
Andrea Rother, Professor and Head of Division
Phone: 021 406 6721
Professor Andrea Rother is an environmental health specialist with over 25 years of research, teaching and policy analysis experience. Her focus areas include:
Prof Rother is the convenor of UCT’s Postgraduate Diploma in Pesticide Risk Management and the Master of Public Health Environmental Health Track. Nationally she is a member of government’s Multi-stakeholder Committee on Chemicals Management and the South African Bureau of Standards Pesticide Technical Committee. Prof Rother is also a WHO expert advisor and current chair of the FAO/WHO Joint Meeting on Pesticide Management.
Aqiel Dalvie, Professor and Director: Centre for Environmental and Occupational Health Research (CEOHR)
Phone: 021 406 6610
Prof Aqiel Dalvie is the South African Swiss Bilateral SARChi Chair in Global Environmental Health and the Director of the Centre for Environmental and Occupational Health, School of Public Health and Family Medicine. His main research interests is health effects due to endocrine disrupting compounds especially pesticides but also have a keen interest in air pollution, water pollution, climate change, asthma, toxic metals and exposure assessment. He also teaches environmental and occupational health.
Leslie London, Professor and Head of Division: Public Health Medicine
Phone: 021 406 6524
Leslie London is a public health specialist with an interest in human rights, public health ethics, farm worker health, prevention of alcohol related harms and the health hazards of pesticides. He is the head of the Division of Public Health Medicine, leads the Health and Human Rights programme and is an active researcher in the Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health Research. He provides technical support to the provincial XDR TB panel and to the public health functions of the Health Impact Assessment Directorate in the Health Department.
James Irlam, Senior Lecturer
Phone: 021 406 6377
Teaching & Research Fields
Rebecca Mlelwa, Assistant Lecturer
Phone: 021 404 7661
Rebecca Mlelwa is an assistant lecturer in the Division of Environmental Health at the School of Public Health and Family Medicine. She has training in environmental and occupational health. Ms Mlelwa is co-convening Children’s Environmental Health course and teaches on a Postgraduate diploma in Pesticide Risk Management. She is currently a PhD student; her research focuses on toxic chemicals in childcare products and toys.
Meryl Jagarnath, nGap Lecturer
Dr Meryl Jagarnath has a PhD in Environmental Sciences from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (obtained in 2019). She has a background in both physical and human geography and her research interests lies in studying the interactions and impacts between people and the environment. Dr Jagarnath's doctoral thesis focused on urban climate and heat stress in Durban to identify vulnerable populations that at most at risk of climate change attributed to physical exposure, socio-demographic profiles, and livelihoods and she has published several journal articles from that work. Dr Jagarnath particularly enjoys using spatial tools such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing (RS) to unpack the links between people and the environment from the local to global scale. She has two years post-doctoral experience at the University of Southampton (United Kingdom) working in the Building Research Capacity for sustainable food and water security in sub-Saharan Africa (BRECCIA) project investigating the links between climate vulnerability and food and water insecurity in various dryland communities, with extensive fieldwork experience in rural sub-Saharan Africa.
Fiona Bennin, Research Co-ordinator
Phone: 021 404 7661
Sheila has over 20 years’ experience working to promote the sustainable management of pests and the reduction of harmful effects of pesticides. She has worked in Africa, the Former Soviet Union and the Caribbean. Her academic background is in Agricultural Zoology / Entomology and she is Head of International Programmes at Pesticide Action Network UK. As a doctoral student Sheila tutored undergraduates in Entomology and Pests and Diseases at Oxford University before working in farmers’ participatory research in Ethiopia and Kenya. More recently Sheila has been concerned with broader aspects of pesticide management, including Highly Hazardous Pesticides, monitoring acute pesticide poisoning and the impact of agroecological practices in cotton and other crops. She also teaches parts of the Post Graduate Diploma in Pesticide Risk Management at the University of Cape Town and has undertaken assignments for UN FAO, UNEP and the secretariats of the chemical conventions.
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Chapters in books
Risk Communication and Health Promotion Materials
Chapters in books
London L, Joshi TK, Cairncross E and Claudio L. (2011). Environmental Justice: an international perspective. In : Nriagu JO (ed.) Encyclopaedia of Envrionmental Health, volume 2, pp. 441-448 Burlington: Elsevier.
Rother HA, London L. Classification and Labelling of Chemicals: New Globally Harmonized System (GHS). Encyclopaedia of Pest Management. 1:1, 1-6, Marcel Dekker, Inc, New York, 2008.
Risk Communication and Health Promotion Materials