Cover picture : Dr. Honoré Nlemba Mabela, WOAH Delegate of the Democratic Republic of Congo and President of the WOAH Regional Commission for Africa (left) and Dr Monique Eloit, WOAH Director General (right) during the visit of the exhibitors’ stands. Picture (c) P. Bastiaensen (woah) 2023.
The 25th Conference of the WOAH Regional Commission for Africa, which started in Gaborone, Botswana, on 21 February 2023, came to a close on Friday 24 February 2023.
The Conference, attended by more than 100 participants (42 African countries represented in Gaborone), was chaired by Dr. Kefentse Motshegwa, WOAH Delegate for Botswana, along with Dr Monique Eloit, WOAH Director General, Dr. Karim Tounkara, WOAH Regional Representative for Africa, as well as Dr. Honoré Nlemba Mabela, WOAH Delegate of the Democratic Republic of Congo and President of the WOAH Regional Commission for Africa
It was preceded by a one-day workshop on rabies elimination in Africa.
Official opening address by H.E. Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi, President of the Republic of Botswana.
The inaugural meeting was held in the conference hall of the Gaborone International Convention Centre (GICC) in Gaborone, the capital of the Republic of Botswana and was officiated by the President of the Republic, His Excellency Dr Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi, who delivered the opening address in the presence of numerous cabinet ministers and high-ranking government officials. His Excellency’s speech was preceded by those of Mr. Bahithi Keiphokotse, Deputy District Commissioner of the City of Gaborone, H.E. Mr. Fidelis Molao, the Botswana Minister of Agriculture, Dr Monique Eloit, WOAH Director-General and H.E. Ambassador Joseph Nourrice, Deputy Executive Secretary of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
Later that day, further opening speeches were delivered by Dr Nick Nwankpa, ag. Director of AU-IBAR, on behalf of H.E. Ms. Josefa Leonel Correia Sacko, Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural development, the Blue economy and Sustainable environment of the African Union Commission, Dr. Hugo Federico Idoyaga Benítez, WOAH Delegate of Paraguay, President of the WOAH Council and of the World Assembly of WOAH Delegates (pre-recorded), as well as a vote of thanks by Dr Mabela Honore N’Lemba, President, WOAH Regional Commission for Africa and WOAH Delegate of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The 42 African countries represented at the Conference were Algeria, Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Central African Republic (CAR), Chad, Comoros, Cote d’Ivoire, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Eritrea, eSwatini, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Namibia, São Tomé and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe and the host country, Botswana. In addition, Guinea Bissau attended online throughout the 4 days of the Conference.
Moreover, several international and regional organisations, donor agencies and other observers participated in the Conference:
In addition, The IGAD Centre for Pastoral Areas and Livestock Development (IGAD) attended online on day three of the Conference.
Represented at the meeting were also esteemed members of various WOAH decision-making and scientific advisory bodies, such as Etienne Bonbon (President of the WOAH Terrestrial Animal Health Standards Commission), Alison Baratang Lubisi (WOAH Reference Laboratories for AHS and RVF, Onderstepoort Veterinary Research), and Yalacet Kaboret (WOAH Collaborating Centre, Ecole Inter-Etats des Sciences et Médecine Vétérinaires, EISMV Dakar).
The first day’s opening session was concluded by an elaborate presentation of the WOAH Director General on Improving animal health globally to ensure a better future for all.
Panel discussion on PPR with ag. Director of AU-IBAR, Dr Nick Nwankpa (left) and Livestock Desk Officer of the SADC Secretariat, Dr Gaolathle Thobokwe (right, with microphone). All pictures (c) P. Bastiaensen (woah) 2023.
The election of the bureau of the Conference (Botswana, Ethiopia and Mauritania) and adoption of the agenda were followed by a first technical presentation made by Dr. Jenny Hutchison, Head of Department of the World Animal Health Information and Analysis Department (WAHIAD), focusing on the Analysis of the Animal Health Situation in Members in the region during 2021 and 2022, i.e. since the last Regional Conference held online in 2021. She presented the analysis of the animal health situation in the African region (2021 – 2022) concerning a selection of diseases, specifically High pathogenicity avian influenza (HPAI), Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF), Rift valley fever (RVF), West Nile fever(WNF), African swine fever (ASF), Peste des petits ruminants (PPR) and the reporting of aquatic animal diseases.
Two Technical Items were presented during the Conference namely:
Both technical items were followed by debates and interactions between the speakers, WOAH Delegates, and technical experts, whether national, regional or international.
A discussion on One Health with zoonotic diseases and issues involving or affecting Member Countries in Africa were presented and debated. An overview of the Quadripartite’s One Health Joint Plan of Action (JPA) was presented and discussions were held on country experiences in operationalization of One Health programmes. The issue of sustainable funding for One Health operations was also discussed.
Other presentations focused on :
Interview with Dr Franck Berthe, World Bank
Interview with Dr Papa Seck, Senegal
Interview with Dr Matthew Muturi, Kenya
Interview with Dr Conrad Nkuo, Cameroon
Two more dedicated sessions were held on day 3 and 4 of the Conference.
Dr Vessaly Kallo, WOAH Delegate of Cote d'Ivoire. Délégué OMSA de la Côte d'Ivoire. Photo (c) P. Bastiaensen (woah) 2023
In her concluding remarks on 24 February, Dr Monique Eloit started by stating that this was the end of a beautiful week, rich in exchanges and perfect to re-establish relationships and networking which is key to build partnership and ensure advancing together. She thanked the Minister of Agriculture of Botswana, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Finance, as well as all other ministers that supported the organisation of such an important event for the region. She also thanked and congratulated the Delegate of Botswana as well as all the colleagues from the Veterinary Services for the excellent work done to ensure the success of the Conference as well as for their hospitality. She thanked the Delegates for their active participation and engagement in discussions during the whole week, and the speakers for the excellent work done and time devoted to the preparation of the presentations. She also thanked the national partners that supported the Conference, the interpreters and the whole backstage team that made the holding of this event possible. She concluded by mentioning that the 25th Conference of the Regional Commission for Africa was a success.
Dr Honoré Robert N’lemba Mabela, President of the Regional Commission for Africa, expressed his gratitude to Botswana and WOAH colleagues for the outstanding Regional Conference and to the Delegates, speakers for their active participations. He also thanked all those working on backstage to ensure the success of the Conference.
Dr Kefentse Motshegwa, Delegate to Botswana, thanked WOAH Subregional Representation for all the support provided to Botswana in the preparation of the Conference. He also thanked all participants and speakers for the high quality of the deliberations and active discussions. He wished participants a safe travel back home and declared the Conference closed at 12:00 p.m.
All resolutions and recommendations adopted in Gaborone will be presented to the next World Assembly of Delegates of the 183 WOAH Member Countries in May 2023 for endorsement and then for implementation at regional and global level. The next (26th) Regional Conference will likely take place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in February 2025, as endorsed by the Members.
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In addition, a poster session was organised, supporting some of the themes tackled by formal presentations during the plenary sessions. Posters presented were submitted by WOAH Technical Departments, Regional Representations, Collaborating Centres and Reference Laboratories and Member Countries, and dealt with such issues as African horse sickness, AMR, animal welfare, anthrax, biological threat reduction, COVID-19, epidemiological surveillance, GF-TADs activities, the governance of veterinary services, National Bridging Workshops, One Health, Peste des petits ruminants, rabies, REMESA, Rift valley fever, tuberculosis, veterinary workforce development and WAHIS.