The third Biennial Conference of the African Nutrition Graduate Students Network (AGSNet) was one of the 4th ANEC 2010 pre-conference meetings held on the 3rd of October 2010 at Kenyatta University Conference Center (KUCC), Nairobi, Kenya. The theme of the Conference was “ THE FINANCIAL CRISIS: Implication for nutrition and food security in Africa, what is the role of AGSNet”. Some 44 members attended from 12 African countries, studying in/affiliated to about 20 institutions in Africa, Europe, North America and Asia. The delegates were mostly members who attended the 4th ANEC. Senior nutritionists were also present to support the AGSNet Conference. They included Professor Anna Lartey, the President-elect, IUNS, Professor Gita Sharma, Drs, Francis Zotor, Paul Amuna, Basma Ellahi, Sophie Ochola and Professor Olive Mugenda, Vice Chancellor of Kenyatta University and the keynote speaker. The welcome speech was delivered by Charles Dabone, the North American Representative on behalf of the coordinator. The coordinator apologies were presented. Mr Dabone concluded his welcome speech by calling on members to take advantage of the congress to forge ahead and move the network forward.
The congress chairman Dr. Ismael Teta was honoured to chaired the congress for a second time. He thanked everybody for attending the congress. He stressed out the aim of AGSNet and reminded the audience that, apart from the capacity building sessions and discussions on food security, this year congress focus was on AGSNet leadership model and concrete actions points for the next two years. He was happy to notice the presence of more francophone countries than the previous congress. Professor Anna Lartey, in a motivational speech urged young African’s to have passion for Africa. She urged young African’s to strive to make a difference for Africa. A summary of her speech is found at the appendix. The first of the two capacity building workshops followed Prof. Anna Lartey’s speech. The first workshop was on writing articles for publication in peer review journals. It was dubbed “Publish or Perish” and presented by Drs. Paul Amuna and Francis Zotor [Appendix for summary].
The keynote address for the congress was presented by Professor Olive Mugenda, whose address was in two parts. The first detailed the plans for the expansion and development of Kenyatta University. In the second part of her presentation, Professor Mugenda expressed the her sadness for the fact that malnutrition and food insecurity remain major issues in Africa especially sub Saharan Africa. She said although some progress has been made to address the situation, the problem still prevails in Africa.
However, there is hope for Africa she said. She mentioned that there is the need for capacity building not only in terms of human capacity but also infrastructure to address the malnutrition and food insecurity in Africa. She also expressed the need for scientists to engage communities and reach out to local people in simple languages understandable to these groups. She mentioned that many times scientists only present their research findings in scientific journals but that need to change. She said there is a high demand from communities who want to know what to do to improve and maintain their nutritional well- being. She encouraged the AGSNet members to continue to provide the right platform for young nutritionists to collaborate and build the much-needed network to make the nutrition agenda high in Africa. This would ensure food security for all.
The keynote address was followed by the Grant writing workshop delivered by Professor Gita Sharma of the Department of Medicine, University of Alberta, Canada [summary in appendix]. The next session was on the role and position of the AGSNet on the African Nutrition Society (ANS). Drs Paul Amuna and Francis Zotor spoke on the history, goals and objectives of the ANS and how and where the AGSNet fit in and its potential role.
Next was the business session of the congress. Regional representative submitted their report on activities and challenges and the way forward. The business session ended with the adoption of new strategies to move the network forward. The congress came to a close with a dinner in the evening. Full report of the congress can be accessed through this link.
Yaw Addo, Adam Sandow, Nonsi Mathe, Reginald Annan, Mawuli Avedzi, Mokabi Matsoai, Charles Dabone and Gaelle Ngassa
Coordinator: Joseph Ashong