The African Small Companion Animal Network (AFSCAN) is a global initiative of the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) Foundation which facilitates capacity building in the African veterinary community to enhance quality in small companion animal medicine. Zoetis is the animal health industry member of the AFSCAN board along with WSAVA, the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), Kruse and the North American Veterinary Community (NAVC). Since its establishment last year, AFSCAN has made great progress through the ongoing support from its industry partners.
"It's been a great first year with progress made on many fronts. We're delighted at the enthusiasm shown by African veterinarians to get involved and to embrace the support we have been able to provide” said Dr. Gabriel Varga, Director of Business Operations for Zoetis North Europe region and Chairman of the AFSCAN Board. We are particularly pleased that several existing veterinary associations in Africa have been strengthened and that a number of new ones are in start-up phase. We've also been happy to support rabies control projects in partnership with World Veterinary Services (WVS) and to start developing new projects for Malawi and Namibia."
Supporting Small Animal Clinical Research
Most recently the network initiated a new program to promote small animal clinical research relevant to the African continent. The new AFSCAN clinical research program aims to provide veterinarians working in African universities with funding to undertake locally relevant investigations related to small animal disease and welfare. It fosters research collaboration and advancements by connecting African veterinary schools with other veterinary institutions overseas.
Professor Michael Day, AFSCAN Board member and Vice President of the WSAVA Foundation said, "Our scientific projects program will address an unmet need in the African academic community and help improve our knowledge base of diseases affecting small companion animals in Africa. We hope it will also foster the next generation of veterinary researchers and highlight the importance of investigating diseases in these species."
Providing Continuing Education and Technology
AFSCAN increases the availability of high quality continuing education (CE) resources for veterinarians in Africa to help them excel in their careers and advance the veterinary profession across the continent. The network's 'Distance Learning for Colleagues in Africa' project, which launched earlier this year, provides participating veterinarians with access to a variety of resources from consortium member Vetstream and from NAVC's online VetFolio platform. In addition, AFSCAN has partnered with a UK-based charity, Computers-4-Africa, to repurpose and donate unwanted computers to participating veterinary practices so they can access CE courses online.
"'Distance Learning for Colleagues in Africa' is moving forward thanks to the generosity of our Consortium members and of UK vet practices which are donating redundant IT equipment," explained Dr. Varga. "During 2015, we expect 700 veterinarians in AFSCAN-participating countries to benefit and, by the end of 2016, we will significantly increase the number of countries to have online access to the highest quality clinical content. African veterinarians really need our help to drive the advances in veterinary care for all species that will improve the health and welfare of both animals and humans.”