Dr Itumeleng Matle from OVRI in South Africa, attended as the representative of ERFAN at the launch of the Regional Aquatic Animal Health Laboratory Network for Africa. The event, hosted by the Agricultural Research Council of South Africa (ARC) and its Onderstepoort Veterinary Research Institute (OVI) from 5 – 7 December, was a significant gathering that brought together key stakeholders in the field. 

The meeting saw the participation of four existing accredited WOAH Reference Laboratories, focusing on diseases relevant to the African region. These laboratories are situated in Australia (CSIRO) under the guidance of Dr. Nick Moody, Norway (NVI) led by Dr. Haakon Hansen, the United Kingdom (CEFAS) with Dr. David Stone, and the United States (University of Arizona) represented by Prof. Arun Dhar. Additionally, six National Reference Laboratories, showcasing expertise in the diagnosis of various aquatic animal diseases, expressed their interest in playing a regional role as service laboratories. These laboratories are based in Egypt (CLAR) led by Prof. Refaat El-Gamal, Ghana (Fisheries Commission) with Dr. Stanley Obresi, Nigeria (DVS) under the guidance of Dr. Ganiyat Modupeola Ogunnoiki, South Africa (ARC-OVI) represented by Drs. Livio Heath and Lia Rotherham, Tunisia (INSTM) led by Prof. Nadia Cherif, and Zambia (UNZA) under the leadership of Prof. Bernard Hang’Ombe Mudenda.

 The meeting was attended by 30 participants representing 17 countries, including Egypt, Kenya, South Africa, Norway, Tunisia, USA, Canada, Zambia, Madagascar, Thailand, Australia, Ghana, Nigeria, the UK, and Botswana.

ERFAN played a pivotal role in the gathering, being invited to share its extensive experience within the WOAH framework. I had the opportunity to deliver a presentation on ERFAN’s overall organization, operation, and activities. The presentation was well-received, and we believe it will significantly contribute to the formation and success of this newly established network.