Members of the West Africa Integrated Vector Management (WA-IVM) Steering Committee, held a two-hour online meeting on June 26, 2020 to examine the impact of COVID-19 on their activities and discuss the way forward for the year 2020. The meeting brought together thirty biosafety and health regulators from ECOWAS countries, as well as AUDA-NEPAD staff serving as members of the programme Secretariat.
In his opening remarks, Dr Rufus Ebegba, Vice-Chairman of the Steering Committee (SC), who presided over the meeting, welcomed participants and noted that “the COVID-19 pandemic has unexpectedly changed the course of activities over the world as the pandemic has demystified scientific discoveries and research hence it is important to take the project seriously so as to ensure that malaria is safely eradicated in Africa”.
Dr Jeremy Ouedraogo, Head of AUDA-NEPAD West Africa Regional Office in Dakar and Head of ABNE programme, in his presentation on the achievements of the IVM program since its inception in 2017, and the output/outcomes for year 2020-2024 stated that “a first set of five IVM guidelines have been so far developed and validated by the different technical working groups. And the next steps are now to consolidate progress in West Africa and scale up the initiative to continental process while enhancing international engagement”.
Subsequently, Dr Moussa Savadogo, ABNE Principal Programme Officer, made a presentation focusing on the initial workplan for the year 2020 and then the new workplan which has been revised taking into account the COVID-19 pandemic context. All activities requiring face to face meetings for stakeholders’ consultations and deliberations are postponed until the pandemic situation is improved and lockdowns are lifted. In the meantime, the program will be running with desktop activities including development of guidelines and other technical documents, as well as trainings and technical assistance in COP-MOP preparatory activities through webinar sessions. Time was then allocated for SC members to deliberate on the best ways to catch up with delayed activities in order to meet the anticipated targets.
At the end of the meeting, SC members came up with a series of recommendations to sustain the steady progress of the programme. The recommendations unanimously adopted included:
– The SC allowed Secretariat to share the draft guidelines with partners for their inputs before final adoption
– Additional guidelines on ethics and risk assessment will be reviewed by the Ethics TWG through a Webinar by July 15, 2020
– The Secretariat is tasked to plan for Webinars on training materials derived from the developed guidelines
– The Secretariat is also tasked to plan for Webinars to prepare for COP-MOP agenda items
– SC and secretariat will advise on face to face meeting when travel ban is lifted in the West African countries.
– The Secretariat is tasked to propose the date of the next webinar and inform SC members at least two weeks before the proposed date.