Fifth German-African Conference on Infectious Diseases in Würzburg
African and German infectiologists in Würzburg
How can researchers help to fight infectious diseases in humans and animals more effectively? Between 10-13 June 2015 more than 100 researchers from 19 countries came together at the invitation of the DFG Africa Initiative at the Biozentrum of the University of Würzburg to present DFG-funded research cooperations, forge international links and discuss opportunities and challenges in infectiology. The follow-up conference was the fifth networking meeting after previous events in Berlin (2010), Accra (Ghana; 2011), Bad Honnef (2012) and Dar es Salaam (Tanzania; 2014).
Dr. Andreas Strecker from the DFG, Professor Dr. Dr. Alfred Forchel, rector of the University of Würzburg, and Würzburg's mayor Dr. Adolf Bauer welcomed 40 researchers from Germany and 67 from 18 African states. They underlined the importance of infectiology research to global health policy issues, which is greater today than ever before.
Working together to combat infectious diseases
The theme common to all projects is the study of neglected infectious diseases, which are being investigated by German-African consortiums. These are diseases which are widespread in the tropics but for which there is currently insufficient research or where not enough is being done to combat the disease. Neglected tropical diseases were in fact defined as a key research priority at the G7 summit at Schloss Elmau just a few days before.
The main aims of the Würzburg conference, like previous conferences, were to share experiences, encourage networking, particularly among researchers from Africa, and to discuss both progress and obstacles in funded projects. Professor Dr. Jürgen May from the German Network Against Neglected Tropical Diseases (DNTDs) and Dr. Richard Phillips from the Ghana-based group African Research into Neglected Tropical Diseases (ARNTD) also presented networks designed to enhance professional dialogue in the field and to facilitate and structure the integration of political decision-makers.
During the conference, participants had the opportunity to visit the Research Centre for Infectious Diseases (ZINF). Since it was founded in 1993, ZINF has grown to become an internationally recognised institution.
During the final panel discussion of the four-day conference, moderated by Dr. Detlef Hanne (Project Manager, Division Southern and Eastern Africa at development bank KfW), participants were able to discuss strategies and problems relating to the integration of local decision-makers, with a view to improving local research possibilities in Africa and facilitating the application of results to combat diseases on the ground, with Dr. Ellis Owusu-Dabo (Scientific Director for the Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research in Tropical Medicine, Kumasi/Ghana), Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng (former Chief Executive Officer, Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, Accra, Ghana) and Professor Faith Osier (Wellcome Trust Programme, Kenya Medical Research Institute, Kilifi/Kenya).