The IZS of Abruzzo and Molise, as the Secretariat of the ERFAN – Enhancing Research For Africa Network, organized the first meeting of the working groups of the SADC Region, Southern African Development Community, in Windhoek, Namibia, from 9 to 11 September. 64 participants, from 13 African Institutions, and 5 Italian Istituti Zooprofilattici (Abruzzo and Molise; Piemonte, Liguria and Valle d’Aosta; Puglia and Basilicata; Campania and Calabria; Sicilia), attended the international meeting.

6 working groups worked to plan actions for improving research, diagnostic performance and scientific training on Food Hygiene, Animal Welfare and diseases – including those transmissible to men – such as Bovine Tuberculosis, Brucellosis, Contagious Bovine Pleuropneumonia, Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies and Rift Valley Fever. At the end of the meeting the action plans of the working groups for the two years 2019-2021 were presented following the three pillars of ERFAN: the improvement of diagnostic performance through networking activities, training related to the transfer of technical-scientific innovations and the presentation of project proposals with regional value.

“The meeting told us clearly that it is essential to systematize skills, even the different ones, to facilitate the sharing of information and enhance research capacity. It was the first meeting of the working groups in which our Institute participated with its best veterinary expertise,” said IZSAM’s Director-General Nicola D’Alterio: ” I’d like to thank all of you for your collaboration. Massimo Scacchia, responsible for our Research, Development and Cooperation in international relations, and all experts of different fields that have been in Namibia … ERFAN was born for strengthening the Veterinary Services of Southern African countries to achieve a level of autonomy to improve the conditions of local populations, including through increasingly precise control of production. It means guaranteeing health security and disease control at a global level”.

Dr Romano Marabelli attended the meeting, former Secretary-General of the Ministry of Health and current advisor and substitute of the Director-General of the OIE, who underlined the importance of ERFAN in international technical-scientific collaboration and hence the decision of the OIE to support the network financially. The network was also applauded by the Italian embassy in Pretoria through Dr Pierguido Sarti, Scientific and Technological Attaché of the Embassy, who defined ERFAN as a strategic tool of a scientific collaboration of Italy in the SADC Region.