AFSCAN announces first research and studentship awards

13 April 2016

The African Small Companion Animal Network (AFSCAN), run by the World Small Animal Veterinary Association’s (WSAVA) Charitable Foundation, has announced the recipients of its first AFSCAN Research and Studentship Awards. Launched in 2015, the Awards aim to promote small animal clinical research relevant to the African continent and to support the training and development of veterinary students and academics working in Africa. The Awards are supported by organisations including Zoetis and the Petplan Charitable Trust.

The AFSCAN Research Award

The AFSCAN Research Award offers academics working at a veterinary school in Africa the opportunity to secure a grant to fund a locally relevant clinical research project of their devising. Eleven applications were received and independently assessed by members of the WSAVA Scientific Advisory Committee. Two projects have been selected for funding:

Dr Temidayo Omobowale from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, has received funding for a project entitled ‘Molecular Characterization of Canine Parvovirus-2 Viruses Circulating in Dogs in Nigeria.’

Dr Abdul Katakweba from the Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania, has received funding for a project entitled ‘Surveillance of Canine Leptospirosis and Associated Carrier Animals in Urban and Rural Dogs in Morogoro, Tanzania.’

The AFSCAN Studentship Award

This Award enables a fourth or fifth year African undergraduate veterinary student to spend six to eight weeks participating in a research project related to disease or the welfare of companion animals of relevance to African society.

One Award has been made this year to fourth year veterinary student Julius Luvanga (pictured below) from the Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania. He will be working on a project entitled ‘Haematological Values of Apparently Healthy African Dogs in Tanzania.’

AFSCAN aims to advance standards of veterinary care across Africa through education and through facilitating the creation of a sustainable network of companion animal veterinarians, associations and specialist groups in Sub-Saharan Africa. Five countries are participating in the first phase – Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda. Zoetis is AFSCAN’s major supporter but it is also supported by a range of other organisations which, together, form the AFSCAN Consortium.

It launched its Awards in April 2015 with the aim of increasing the knowledge base of diseases and welfare issues affecting companion animals in Africa and building links between African veterinary researchers and laboratories in the USA and Europe.

Commenting, Professor Michael Day, AFSCAN Board member and Vice-President of the WSAVA Foundation, said: “Our Scientific Research Awards address an unmet need for support for companion animal clinical research in Africa and we hope they will also inspire a new generation of veterinary researchers across the continent by highlighting the value of investigating diseases in these species.”

Julius Luvanga, recipient of the Studentship Award, said: “The Award is a motivator for me to continue working hard, especially with small companion animals, which are my area of special interest. I am delighted to be able to undertake my research project and to help increase our knowledge on matters relating to small companion animals.”

Dr Gabriel Varga, Chairman of the AFSCAN Board and Director of Business Operations for Zoetis North Europe region, added: “We hope that the AFSCAN Awards will drive advances in veterinary care for all species and, in so doing, improve the health and welfare of both animals and humans. We were delighted to see such a range of projects submitted for our consideration this year and wish all of the recipients good luck with their projects. I’d like to thank Zoetis, Petplan and all of our Consortium members for their generous support.”