AFRICA CDC LAUNCHES SCIENCE PROGRAM.

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  • The Africa CDC launched the Africa Pathogen Genomics and Bioinformatics Fellowship Program.
  • The fellowship program aims to support technical experts and future leaders in public health pathogen genomics and bioinformatics in Africa.
  • The call for the application for the fellowship program ended on 03 April 2023 for the first cohort of 25 fellows.

On the 23rd of March, 2023, the Africa CDC launched the Africa Pathogen Genomics and Bioinformatics Fellowship Program, a continental workforce development program targeting public health laboratories in the African Union Member States to improve the use of pathogen genomic data for outbreak detection and disease surveillance.

In recent times, Africa CDC through the Africa Pathogen Genomics Initiative (Africa PGI) has led the implementation of capacity-building initiatives for pathogen genomics sequencing including an aggressive training agenda through short courses on SARS-COV-2 sequencing and data analytics. 

As a result of this effort, most Member States have now in-country sequencing capacity, and with continued support, they are ready to apply genome sequencing for the surveillance of priority diseases in Africa. The COVID-19 pandemic not only fast-tracked the adoption of pathogen genomics to inform public health decision-making in Africa but has also highlighted the need for a well-trained workforce to realize the power of next-generation sequencing for other public health functions. They have subsequently built on existing efforts to further expand genomics capacity beyond COVID-19. In partnership with the African Society for Laboratory Medicine and regional centers of excellence, the Africa CDC has developed and launched the Africa PGI Pathogen Genomics and Bioinformatics Fellowship Program.

Dr. Ahmed Ogwell, Acting Director General of the Africa CDC said, “Africa continues to face a growing risk of infectious disease outbreaks. The recent Ebola, Cholera, Marburg, and other outbreaks highlight the urgent need for effective implementation and utilization of pathogen genomics across Africa. It is imperative to strengthen African public health institutions through capacity building and workforce development as the major pillars of the New Public Health Order. This fellowship program is a step forward in our effort to leapfrog outbreak detection and disease surveillance in Africa.”

Nqobile Ndlovu, Chief Executive Officer of ASLM, backed this up by saying, “The public health benefits of next-generation sequencing can only be realized through a well-trained workforce. We are very excited to partner with the Africa CDC in capacity and capability building for pathogen genomics and bioinformatics in Africa.”

This program has three tracks; a wet-lab track (Next-Generation Sequencing of Pathogens), a dry-lab track (Public health bioinformatics data analytics, interpretation, and reporting), and a track on genomic epidemiology to be included at a later stage. Overall, the fellowship program aims to support technical experts and future leaders in public health pathogen genomics and bioinformatics in Africa.

Throughout the fellowship, participants will be trained on core competencies with a focus on genomics and data analytics for outbreak detection, viral and bacterial disease surveillance, antimicrobial resistance, and malaria surveillance. The fellowship will also provide opportunities for alumni and institutional networks to foster future collaborations across Africa.

The call for the application for the fellowship program ended on 03 April 2023 for the first cohort of 25 fellows. Africa CDC welcomed applications from all qualified persons from all AU Member States. The fellowship program will prioritize women, youth, and those Member States with limited genomics and bioinformatics capacity.

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