The Keystone Symposia meeting on “New approaches to vaccines for human and
veterinary tropical diseases” that was held in Cape Town, South Africa from the 22nd to 29th
of May 2016 gathered researchers and scientists from various parts of the world. The
conference addressed the challenges and discussed the many innovative approaches, tools and
technologies used in the fight against the most important infectious diseases that affect
humans and livestock in tropical countries, especially in Africa.
On May 28th, the last session day of the conference, a group of African scientists
who attended the meeting gathered to discuss their impressions on the themes of the
conference and to lay the foundations for future joint actions. This meeting was mainly
motivated by the observation that while African countries suffer the most from the infectious
diseases discussed during the conference, the researches and innovations used to tackle these
problems mostly come from outside the continent. The discussion stressed the need for a
better involvement of African scientists in finding solutions to infectious diseases that
negatively impact the health and the economy of the continent. Indeed the knowledge of the
field by local scientists constitutes an invaluable asset that can be mobilized in the fight
against human and animal infectious diseases. Through this initiative, African researchers will
be ableto take the necessary initiativesto solve the problems of their continent and provide
appropriate solutions that are in most cases different from region to region. Indeed, whatever
technology provided by the Western countries, which could provide solutions to some timely
issues, the implication and participation of African researchers, who are aware of the different
factors that influence the emergence and re-emergence of diseases, constitute an appropriate
anda critical effortto solve these problems. The African continent has been exposed for
decadesto different diseases that constitute a significant threat to the health of humans and
animals. Even if some old diseases have been partially eradicated and do not anymore
constitutea threat to the economy of the continent,new and emerging diseaseshave crossedthe
borders of the continent and have begun to threaten human and animal health in other
continents.In order to reachthis goal, an initiative was taken toestablishthe African
Vaccinology Network (AfVANET).
A steering committee with nominated representatives from each of the African regions was
formed. The goal is to use AfVANET as a platform to:
Bring together all stakeholders in vaccinology and related sciences in Africa;
Identify and prioritize vaccine gaps in Africa;
Promote vaccine research and development in Africa;
Promote sound ethics, biosafety and biosecurity in Africa.
The steering committee will work toward making AfVANET recognized by African
governments and the African Union. The committee also intends to cooperatewith experts
from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Organization for Animal Health
(OIE) and take full advantage of the resources available through these international
organizations. The AfVANET committee aims to organize a meeting in Africa in 2017 and
counts on support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the WHO, the OIE, the FAO
and from the organizers of the Keystone Symposia towards this endeavor.
The African Vaccinology Network would like to thank the Keystone Symposia organizers
especially Dr Vish Nene, for having organized this meeting in Africa, as well as Bill and
Melinda Gate Foundation for the financial support that has allowed to African scientists to
attend the conference.
AfVANET founding members (L-R): Dr. Tesfaye Kassa (Jimma University, Ethiopia), Dr. Jerome Nyhalah Dinga (University of Buea, Cameroon), Dr. Kwabena Duedu (University of Health and Allied Sciences, Ghana). Pr. Mustapha Oumouna (University of Médéa, Algeria), Dr. Funmilayo Afolayan (University of Ibadan, Nigeria), Dr. Yakhya Dieye (University Cheikh Anta Diop, Senegal), Dr. Jones Akinbobola (University of Abuja, Nigeria), Dr. Gezahegne Mamo (Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia), Dr. David Lazarus (University of Pretoria, South Africa).
Source: Dr Mustapha Oumouna, AfVANET coordinator