Italian Ambassador to Kenya His Excellency Roberto Natali says his embassy is willing and ready to collaborate with the Technical University of Mombasa (TUM) for exchange programs.
The envoy gave the assurance when he paid a courtesy call at TUM on Friday 17, November, 2023. He said the envisaged exchange program would involve both staff and students.
The ambassador acknowledged that TUM is great institution, and it is now opportune to initiate a collaboration by signing a standing Memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the institution and renowned Universities in Italy.
“Kenya and Italy have had a good working relationship; therefore, setting up a language center in TUM would be ideal so that students can use the facility to learn Italian language to increase chances of getting employment in Italian five-star hotels along the Kenyan Coast and other Italian companies,” Ambassador Natali said.
As the world is celebrating Italian cuisine week, the ambassador noted that in Italy food is connected to culture. He disclosed the country has one of the most popular cuisines in the world hence he expected the whole world to enjoy during the Italian cuisine week. He however cautioned people to know what they eat so as to avoid lifestyle diseases.
In her address, TUM Vice Chancellor Prof Laila Abubakar told the envoy that the University is one of the oldest technical Institutions in Kenya, established way back in 1948 as Mombasa Institute of Muslim Education (MIOME), which enrolled its first batch of Muslim students in May 1951.
In 1966, MIOME became Mombasa Technical Institute (MTI) admitting students from different walks of life regardless of religion. MTI was elevated to Mombasa Polytechnic in 1972, becoming the second largest National Polytechnic in the republic of Kenya.
In 2007, Mombasa Polytechnic was transformed to Mombasa Polytechnic University College (MPUC) and finally in 2013, TUM was chartered and became a full-fledged University.
Prof Laila highlighted that the University is comprised of five schools and two institutes.
“The schools are, the School of Engineering and technology, School of Applied and Health Sciences, School of Business, School of Humanities and Social Sciences and the School of Graduate Studies. The two institutes are, the Institute of Computing and Informatics (ICI) and the TUM TVET Institute.” the VC explained.
Prof Laila welcomed the idea of exchange program saying it would give students and staff an opportunity to benchmark on the best practices. She echoed the sentiments of ambassador Natali on the need of having an active MoU between TUM and Italian Universities.
“I look forward to strong collaborations with Universities in Italy in research and development, not just in Food, Nutrition, Health and Dietetics, but other disciplines such as Engineering and Technology, Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence, Tourism, Information Technology among others,” the VC said.
After the courtesy call at the Vice Chancellor’s office, the team proceeded to the School of Medicine boardroom for a symposium on Food, Nutrition and Health courtesy of the Italian embassy.
Eating and health
The climax of the event was a presentation by Prof Mauro Serafini from Teramo University in Italy. The professor of human nutrition warned people against taking too much red meat, advising them to resort to plant-based proteins as healthy alternative.
Prof Serafini disclosed that there is evidence to the health risks of eating high amounts of red meat, which has been associated with type 2 diabetes, coronary heart diseases, stroke and certain cancers.
He stated that healthy diet plays a pivotal role in maintaining good health and preventing chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Consumption of a variety of foods that are rich in antioxidants, dietary fibre, and microelements; and reducing intake of salt, saturated and trans-fats have been demonstrated to enhance good health and well-being, he advised.
Prof Serafini disclosed that what people eat determines their health status. He revealed that major killer diseases such as cardiovascular, cancer and type 2 diabetes are commonly caused by the kinds of foods people consume.
“Our bodies were designed not use a lot of food. But most of us end up eating too much food with zero exercise which contributes to obesity. Increase in weight comes with health complications,” Prof Serafini cautioned.
He advised Kenyans to eat more vegetables, cereals and sea foods for longevity. “The secret of longevity is eating balanced diet, physical activity and interaction between people,” Prof Serafini concluded.
According to statistics from World Health Organization (WHO) cardiovascular diseases account for most deaths (17.9 million people annually), followed by cancers (9.3 million), chronic respiratory diseases (4.1 million), and diabetes (2.0 million including kidney disease deaths caused by diabetes).
Mauro Serafini is Full Professor of Human Nutrition. He is the Head of Functional Foods and Metabolic Stress Prevention Laboratory at Teramo University in Italy.
Prof Serafini is also a visiting Professor at the faculty of Food Technology and Biotechnology of Zagreb University.
He was included by Thomson Reuters in the list of Highly Cited Scientist for his publication on functional food and health. Recently he was awarded the “Gusto Award” for best communication in nutrition and the Honor of Knight Commander of the Italian Republic for scientific merit.
TUM don Dr Samuel Muyoma Nato made a presentation titled Probiotics, Prebiotics and Dietary Fibre while Dr Cosmus Munga made a presentation on Blue Economy and Implementation of the Tropimundo Program.
After the event the TUM family was treated with delicious Italian Cuisine. It was a moment to enjoy, but Prof Serafini had cautioned attendees that too much food without exercise was harmful for health hence prompting several people to tame their appetite!