The 8th African Rotavirus Symposium was organised from 12 to 13 June 2014 in Livingstone, Zambia, by the African Rotavirus Network (ARN) – a network of global rotavirus researchers, African Ministries of Health, WHO and other key partners and stakeholders. The Symposium was hosted by the Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia (CIDRZ), in collaboration with the Ministry of Community Development, Mother and Child Health of Zambia. The theme of the Symposium was 'Rotavirus Landscape in Africa – Towards Prevention and Control'.
The scientific committee members of the Symposium are key leaders in the rotavirus field including Dr Roger Glass (Associate Director of International Research, U.S. National Institutes of Health); Dr Duncan Steel (Senior Programme Officer, Bill & Melinda Gates foundation); Dr Umesh Parashar (Lead Division of Enteric Viruses, CDC); Prof Jeffrey Mphahlele (Professor of Virology, University of Limpopo, South Africa); Dr Jason Mwenda (WHO/AFRO Regional Coordinator for Vaccine Disease Surveillance); Dr George Armah (Head West African Regional Rotavirus Reference Laboratory, Ghana) and Dr Roma Chilengi (Director of Primary Care and Health Systems Strengthening, CIDRZ).
The Minister of Community Development, Mother and Child Health, Emerine Kabanshi, gave the official opening speech. Zambia recently introduced three lifesaving vaccines into their National Immunisation Programme: pneumococcal, measles second dose, and rotavirus vaccine. The Minister announced that necessary commitments were made to ensure that no Zambian child dies from vaccine preventable diseases.
The Symposium was attended by 134 delegates from 34 countries; of which 27 were African. Scientists, academics, government officials and representatives from pharmaceutical companies discussed the achievements and challenges in the field of preventing childhood diarrhoea caused by rotavirus in Africa. During the two-day event, over 35 scientific presentations, as well as posters, were discussed. NESI was invited to present on "Capacity building activities in support of new vaccine introduction."