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Epidemiologists to check disease outbreaks in Africa, others

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AFENET family at the sixth AFENET and first ECOWAS Regional Centre for Disease Control Scientific Conference in Abuja.

AFENET family at the sixth AFENET and first ECOWAS Regional Centre for Disease Control Scientific Conference in Abuja.

Poised to curtail epidemics in Africa and beyond, over 1000 field epidemiologists from the world over have converged in Abuja, the Nigerian capital city to discuss new strategies on combating disease outbreaks.

Holding under the auspices of the Africa Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET), the conference is also brainstorming on ways to enhance global health security through Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Programmes (FELTPS).

Earlier, a ministerial meeting, hosted by Nigeria’s Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole and chaired by his Ugandan counterpart, Judith Ruth Aceng with ministers and representatives from over 10 African countries, pledged to support the training of more field epidemiologists to combat outbreaks and strengthen surveillance systems at both the national and local council levels.

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They backed AFENET, which operates in 28 African countries, in its move to introduce more epidemiology training programmes on the continent.

AFENET’s Executive Director, Dr. Kenneth Ofosu-Barko and its Programme Director for Nigeria Field, Epidemiology Training Programme, Dr. Sani Gwarzo, had in their presentation intimated the ministers of the support FELTPS had offered to ministries of health, advocating for the establishment of a Continental Rapid Response Corps for faster responses to outbreaks.

It is hoped that the five-day event would chart better path to more ambitious mechanisms of containing epidemics and by extension, mitigating their effects in the event of any occurrence.

Over 360 scientific presentations and 20 keynote addresses on critical public health issues are to be delivered.
The meeting is supported by key stakeholders such as CDC, WHO, UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), among others.

Established in 2005 as a non-profit organisation, AFENET has over the years trained over 2000 public health professionals and local health workers on requisite skills relating diseases.

One of its goals is to strengthen field epidemiology and public health laboratory capacity in order to contribute effectively in addressing epidemics and other major medical problems in Africa.


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