Afscan launches next phase of distance learning program for african veterinarians at NAVC conference 2015

The African Small Companion Animal Network (AFSCAN) unveiled the next phase of its educational program for African veterinarians at the North American Veterinary Community (NAVC) Conference 2015. It also awarded Berna Nakanwagi BVM MSc, a veterinarian from Uganda and AFSCAN Ambassador, one of the four NAVC Colin F Burrows International Scholarships to attend the conference.

AFSCAN is an initiative launched by the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) Foundation in 2014.  It 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.  It has Zoetis as its major supporter. 

'Distance Learning for Colleagues in Africa' is AFSCAN's flagship education project.  It aims to transform the availability of high quality CE resources for African veterinarians and was launched in April 2014 with the support of global veterinary supplier KRUUSE, the NAVC, the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA),digital veterinary content supplier Vetstream; UK charity Computers4Africa and the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA).  During the first phase, it carried out research and appointed veterinarian 'Country Ambassadors' in five participating African countries.

The next phase, launched at NAVC, sees African veterinarians start to benefit from the availability of point-of-care, clinical reference resources, Canis (dogs) and Felis (cats) from Vetstream, and from all of the educational resources available on the NAVC's online VetFolio platform, which include CE programs from NAVC, the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) and WSAVA congresses.  Lists of veterinarians in their countries have been provided by the Country Ambassadors and each will be provided with a user name and password to enable them to access the content via an internet enabled-device at a significant discount.

As the accessibility of these resources depends on participants having access to the internet, UK-based charity Computers4Africa is taking in unwanted computers, tablets and smartphones, cleaning them, installing software and browser solutions and shipping them to African countries for use by AFSCAN-participating veterinary practices.  Its work is supported by the BSAVA, which is calling on its members to donate equipment to Vetstream's offices or bring them to BSAVA Congress in April 2015.  

Commenting, Dr Mark Johnston, Managing Director of Vetstream and AFSCAN supporter, said: "We are determined that veterinarians in Africa, who already face economic and technical challenges, should no longer have their access to high quality clinical reference information impeded.  The result is our partnership with Computers4Africa.  Between Vetstream Canis and Felis and with support from NAVC and AAHA's Vetfolio, we will, for the first time, be making the very latest clinical resources widely available to veterinarians across the continent."

NAVC CEO Thomas M Bohn MBA CAE, added:  “Our online community platform VetFolio is the largest and most robust online veterinary learning portal in the world and we are delighted to be bringing it to veterinarians in Africa as part of this exciting project."

Speaking at NAVC, AFSCAN Country Ambassador Berna Nakanwagi BVM MSc, Executive Committee member of the Uganda Veterinary Association and Executive Secretary of the Uganda Small Animal Practitioners' Association, said:  "I was so pleased to have been awarded a Scholarship and am ambitious about the clinical work I want to provide in our veterinary practice in the Kampala Veterinary Surgery in Mutungo, Kampala.

"Before AFSCAN, we had access to little other than a few textbooks. Now, we have will have access to current thinking and the ability to discuss cases with experienced colleagues via NAVC  and AAHA'sVetfolio and Vetstream Canis and Felis on computers that will connect us to leading clinicians in other parts of the world.  This will transform our practice and I would like to thank all of the companies supporting this project.”

Later phases of the AFSCAN project will include offering grant funding for specific veterinary projects and increasing support for rabies control initiatives.

 

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