The Africa CDC through its Pathogen Genomics Initiative (Africa PGI) has supported African countries during the past two years to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Strengthening genomic sequencing capability has resulted in the sequencing of nearly 100,000 SARS-COV-2 genomes. Cognizant of the scale-up of data generation capability, the Africa CDC in partnership with the South African National Bioinformatics Institute (SANBI) has been designing data management protocols and tools for use in National Public Health Institutes.
On the 23th May 2022. the Africa CDC in partnership with the African Society for Laboratory Medicine (ASLM) and the South African National Bioinformatics Institute (SANBI) launched the first in a series of hands-on bioinformatics training held at the University of the Western Cape, South Africa. The training workshop targeted 15 participants from 11 African Union (AU) Member States, DRC, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Morocco, Senegal, South Africa, Uganda and Zambia. This workshop underpins the Africa CDC’s range of bioinformatics training to support countries on the African continent to rapidly respond to disease outbreaks in general and a response to COVID-19 surveillance in particular. A key ingredient of this course is the hands-on training offered by experienced bioinformatics scientists to participants whom had acquired experience in generating NGS data. A long-standing partnership between the Africa CDC and SANBI has provided the data management framework needed for the wealth of pathogen data being generated in response to the COVID-19 pandemic surveillance.
“Competency in public health Bioinformatics is key in our effort to expand genomic surveillance in Africa. This training is critical in building the bioinformatics capacity in public health institutes to effectively utilize NGS data and inform decision making” said Dr. Yenew Kebede, Head Division of Laboratory Systems and Networks at the Africa CDC. Professor Christoffels, Director of SANBI commented “The training covers a range of topics from introduction to bioinformatics, data management, bioinformatics analysis, interpretation of genomic results, to presentation of genomic data to inform public policy decision-making. This training represents the first of a range of data-intensive analytics support that is intended to meet the needs of genomic surveillance for COVID-19, other outbreaks and endemic diseases in Africa”.
“Workforce development in sequencing and bioinformatics is key to develop a continental capacity that can deliver at speed, scale, and quality in outbreak detection and response” said Dr. Ahmed Ogwell, Acting Director of the Africa CDC .
The participants are expected to put into practice the skills and knowledge gained from this training to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and future disease outbreaks. Furthermore, training workshop will create a network of experts within the continent with the ability to collaborate in projects as well as share and exchange genomic data and data analytics resources.
The training was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) grant to the ASLM.
For more information, contact:
Africa CDC – Africa PGI
Dr. Sofonias Tessema: firstname.lastname@example.org
SANBI Prof. Alan Christoffels, Email: email@example.com