Launches First Educational Initiative and Lays Groundwork for the Creation of New Veterinary Associations in Sub-Saharan Africa

The board of the African Small Companion Animal Network (AFSCAN) recently launched a distance learning educational program and set out a roadmap for the creation of five new veterinary associations in Africa.  These programs were presented to American veterinarians attending the North American Veterinary Conference on January 19 following adoption by the AFSCAN board of directors at the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) World Congress in fall 2014. 

AFSCAN, a project of the (WSAVA) Foundation, which funds improvements in the veterinary care of companion animals worldwide, was launched in April 2014. AFSCAN aims to facilitate the creation of a sustainable network of companion animal veterinarians, associations and specialist groups in sub-Saharan Africa. This network will facilitate the formation of new Small Animal Veterinary Associations (SAVAs) across the continent.  Zoetis is the sole animal health industry member of the AFSCAN board along with WSAVA, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), Kruuse and the North American Veterinary Community (NAVC).

The distance learning program provides access to a range of online educational resources offered by other AFSCAN supporters via NAVC's VetFolio platform. This includes access to Vetstream's Point of Care portal, as well as computers and internet-connected devices donated by UK veterinary practices and repurposed by the UK charity Computers4Africa. The British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) is also supporting this project.

AFSCAN has also made progress in the establishment and further development of veterinary associations in Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda. The first of these veterinary associations is expected to receive WSAVA membership in May 2015 at the WSAVA World Congress in Bangkok, Thailand.

The “One Health” concept of animal and human health interconnectedness is a focus for AFSCAN. At the recent meeting, the AFSCAN board discussed the need for greater rabies education, especially for children, and the expansion of rabies vaccine banks in Africa. The board also discussed plans for the creation of the AFSCAN Small Companion Animal Academic Research Award to support a defined clinical research project related to cats or dogs.

In other AFSCAN news, the second Fun(d) Run in support of the WSAVA Foundation was held during WSAVA World Congress with donations given to rabies research and prevention. More than 300 people participated in the run. Plans are already underway for the 2015 event, which will take place during WSAVA World Congress in May in Bangkok.

"In the six months since AFSCAN was launched, we have built a committed community of experts and partner organizations who share our goals. We are very grateful to them all for their support,” said Dr. Gabriel Varga, chairman of the AFSCAN board and director of business operations for Zoetis in North Europe.

"Working together, we will advance the veterinary profession across Africa and, in so doing, improve the lives of millions of animals and humans. With the foundations of our work now firmly in place, we are looking forward to working towards our goals in the months ahead,” Varga said.

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About the World Small Animal Veterinary Association
The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) is an umbrella organisation representing 145,000 veterinarians globally through 91 member associations. The WSAVA Foundation was founded in 2009 with the aim of acquiring funds for activities that can be delivered by clinical and laboratory specialists for the benefit of veterinarians globally.