SETAC Globe - Environmental Quality Through Science
  14 April 2011
Volume 12 Issue 4

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SETAC Africa in Full Swing for Upcoming Event

Patricia Bi, University of Dschang, Cameroon

The SETAC Africa Branch and the Cameroon Society for Toxicological Sciences (CSTS) have joined forces in organizing the CSTS/SETAC Africa 2011 Meeting that will be held from 31 May to 3 June 2011, at the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Buea, Cameroon. The theme of the conference is “Searching for African solutions to human and environmental toxicological challenges,” which speaks directly to the many environmental challenges that are encountered across the African continent.

Africa is known for its challenges and the environment has seen its fair share with an expanding population, rapid urbanization, the development of new technologies and increase in mining activities and oil exploration, resulting in increased pollution from various anthropogenic sources. In many instances the quality and richness of terrestrial, freshwater, and marine environments have become polluted and in many sub-Saharan countries freshwater sources are threatened. The increasing environmental deterioration is also threatening further development, stability and the livelihoods of many communities, especially in rural settings. Therefore, the help of the scientific community is sought and is crucial in finding solutions to address the above environmental issues and to protect our environment.

Focus of the meeting
The conference will provide a unique platform for stakeholders from academia, research organizations, governmental institutions and environmental organisations to discuss multidisciplinary approaches and possible solutions to engage with Africa’s environmental problems. To achieve this, the meeting hopes to cover the areas of food additives, pesticides, industrial wastes, heavy metals, noxious gases, plant and animal toxins that are constantly discharged into the environment.

In addition, the meeting will also offer a two-day general toxicology course to introduce participants to toxicology as a science. The course will cover the environmental toxicology, which itself is a young but rapidly developing field that covers the harmful effects of chemical, physical and biological agents on living organisms, including fish, plants, animals and humans. A two-day training course on risk assessment will also take place as well as a workshop on hands-on application of computer-based approaches in predictive toxicology, which will provide practical guidance on the use of predictive toxicology applications with emphasis on open source-based software tools and internet resources. Another one-day short course titled “A practical method for immobilization and de-immobilization of freshwater algae, with special emphasis on applied significance of immobilized algae for toxicity screening and eco-toxicological studies” will also take place.

The setting
Buea, the seat of the University of Buea, is a small historic town located at the foot of the eastern slopes of the famous Mount Cameroon (4070 m above sea level), the highest mountain in west and central Africa. It was the capital of German Kamerun during German colonial rule, and later became the capital of Southern Cameroons under British colonial rule, the capital of the Federated State of West Cameroon, and now regional capital of the South West Region. Buea is situated 25 km away from Limbe, a tourist beach town on the western Atlantic coast. Buea is also about an hour drive from Douala, the economic capital and major sea/airport of Cameroon.

The University of Buea is an Anglo-Saxon institution founded in 1993 and is one of seven state universities in Cameroon. With a student population of over 12,000, the university draws its students mainly from the English-speaking part of Cameroon, although it also serves the other provinces of the country. The University of Buea is dedicated to providing programs of study and research of the highest standards. The conference will contribute to the University of Buea’s vision of producing high quality graduates with skills to satisfy the ever increasing demand of the Cameroonian, African and international job markets as well as contribute to capacity building for research staff and students in various fields of toxicology. This is also an opportunity for researchers in this and other Cameroon universities to present their research results and interact with scientists from around the world.

University of Buea campus, Cameroon

This upcoming meeting promises to be truly international. Participants are expected from all continents (except perhaps Australia). In addition to the obvious participation from Cameroonians, plenary lecturers will include renowned scientists from South Africa, Sudan, Egypt, Brazil, Portugal, and the USA. The keynote address will be given by Mr Lemnyuy Banye who is Chief of Service for Standards and Procedures in the Ministry of Environment and Protection of Nature, Cameroon. Lecturers for the short courses are distinguished scientists in the various fields of toxicology such as Prof. Nabil Bashir and Dr. Amna Bashir from Sudan, Prof. Abdel-Hamid from Egypt, Drs. Barry Hardy and Philip Judson respectively from Switzerland and United Kingdom, Dr. Becki Clark from US Environmental Protection Agency, Dr. Silke Bollmohr from South Africa, Dr. Adama Toe from Burkina Faso, Prof. Orish Orisakwe from Nigeria as well as Drs. Asongalem, Mbuagbaw, Fon, Assob and Orock from Cameroon. A total of 107 abstracts have been received from authors from 25 nationalities, including Austria, Belgium, Benin, Cameroon, Canada, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Ghana, India, Ireland, Japan, Kenya, Lybia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, Sweden, Tanzania, Uganda, United Kingdom, USA, and Zambia. These authors also come from different sectors of the society including academia, non-governmental organizations, industry, and government bodies; therefore, the tripartite nature of SETAC and CSTS will be truly reflected in the composition of participants at this meeting. The abstracts received cover diverse aspects of toxicology including environmental, aquatic, pesticides, analytical, predictive and clinical toxicology. The African focal point for SAICM (Strategic Approach for International Chemicals Management), Mr David Kapindula (from Zambia), will present the situation in Africa on the implementation of chemicals policies and the role of SAICM. There will be two official conference languages (English and French) with translators present to ensure all participants can follow presentations in both languages.

Several participants have already registered for the conference to take advantage of the early registration reduced fees and some have already bought their flight tickets. We encourage everyone to register online now to also benefit from the reduced fees―even if you will pay onsite (particularly African participants who cannot pay online and must pay on-site. Early registration will count as early registration fees will be applied). Participants who need assistance with entry visas should contact the local organization team immediately.

In addition to the scientific agenda, there will be many opportunities to also have fun. The University of Buea is located at the foot of the Mount Cameroon, which is an active volcano. At the end of the conference (Saturday, 04/06/2011), the organizers will arrange an excursion to Bakingili, at a site formed by a lava flow from the most recent eruption in 2000. From there, participants will have the opportunity to visit the seaside town of Limbe where they can visit the famous Limbe botanical garden and associated zoological garden, with the possibility of having a meal in a restaurant at the sea. Participants staying longer can contact the Fako Tourism board (Tel: +237- 333-32861) for further information on other possible exciting activities like mountain climbing.

The SETAC Africa meeting promises to deliver a kaleidoscope of information, fun and something for everyone. If you were planning to attend but have not finalized your place, do so quickly to ensure that you don’t miss out on this exciting opportunity.

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