Editor's Comment

World Bank support timely

ZAMBIA and other African countries have continued to grapple with challenges related to infectious diseases in both human beings and animals.
In view of this, there is urgent need to build the capacity of institutions of higher learning to help the country deal with such challenges.
Therefore, the gesture by the World Bank to give Zambia US$6 million to establish a zoonotic research laboratory at the University of Zambia (UNZA) is welcome and timely.
Zoonotic disease is a type of disease that passes from an animal or insect to a human.
However, the zoonotic research laboratory at UNZA will not only be for zoonosis but also for neglected tropical diseases.
The US$6 million will also lead to the creation of the Africa Centre of Excellence in Infectious Diseases of Humans and Animals (ACEIDHA) at UNZA’s School of Veterinary Medicine.
The mandate of the centre is delivery of high-quality research and training of students at master of science (Msc) and postgraduate doctoral degree levels to smart, highly motivated and ambitious scientists in Africa.
This will reduce the critical shortage of skilled human resource in the prevention and control of infectious diseases on the continent.
Through the funding received from the World Bank, ACEIDHA will offer scholarships (full or partial depending on circumstances) for the period of study at UNZA to deserving applicants meeting the selection criteria and whose proposed research areas will be in line with its mission and vision.
Students with other sources of funding or those who can sponsor themselves will also be encouraged to apply.
The gesture by the World Bank complements the Japanese gesture. The Japanese offer is for equipment for the entire Vet School.
The World Bank project is only for the centre of excellence that will be established.
The laboratory will be a centre of excellence in the southern African region for the study of zoonosis, which is becoming increasingly important due to rapid world population growth and intensive animal husbandry.
Zambia being the centre of excellence is beneficial to UNZA as it will raise the university ranking and profile. Zambia is not the only centre of excellence under this project.
The gesture by the World Bank is therefore very significant because a lot of Msc and PhD students will be trained from this project.
The School of Veterinary Medicine boasts of the finest biomedical research facilities on the continent.
UNZA also boasts having highly qualified researchers and scientists who are able to offer quality student supervision and mentorship in a range of research areas.
This training programme will empower graduates with knowledge and skills to improve the quality of livelihoods of people, including animals and the environment, ultimately contributing to the attainment of some of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
In line with UNZA strategic plan, ACEIDHA is committed to the principle of gender equality and equal opportunities for all, including individuals with physical disabilities and disadvantaged backgrounds.
Additionally, student supervision will be done in collaboration with other internationally recognised scientists from within the continent and beyond.
Despite the World Bank grant and Japanese offer, some challenges are still there.
These include outdated equipment or inadequate equipment in the face of increased number of students.

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