The process of establishing Network has pushed by the Instituto Zooprofilattico dell’Abruzzo e del Molise (IZSAM), active in Africa since 1991, when the National Reference Centre for foreign animal diseases (CESME) was officially established by the Italian Ministry of Health. It allowed collaborating with several African Institutions such as National Laboratories and Veterinary Faculties. The long-term relationships with African partners make possible to establish a scientific network, enabling exchange of ideas, experiences and research results.

The Enhancing Research for Africa Network (ERFAN) came into being in March 2017, when nine African Institutions of eight countries met in Teramo to share the existing scientific collaboration results and identify the future cooperation areas in the field of veterinary science. Supported by Italian Ministry of Health- Direction General for Animal Health and Veterinary Medicinal Products, the IZSAM and African partners create an international network with focus on scientific research in the animal health/welfare, food hygiene and sustainable food production fields. The final resolutions included the recommendation of “straightening the joint effort in Africa to develop and implement public veterinary information systems that generate information with sufficient quality, quantity, and timeliness to facilitate epidemiological surveillance, clinical management, research and decision-making as well as policy processes at all levels”.

Funded by the IZSAM, and supported by the Italian Ministry of Health, the first regional meeting took place in October 2017 in Pretoria, attended by the partners of Southern Africa (Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe), by the IZSAM, and by the delegates of regional International Organization offices, as European Union (EU), OIE, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources (Au-IBAR) . In May 2018 the first regional meeting was organized by the IZSAM in North Africa: delegates of the national Competent Authorities, the national Central Laboratories, and Universities of Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya met in Tunis the IZSAM colleagues in the presence of the Italian Chief Veterinary Officer, the delegate of the OIE, AMU (Arab Maghreb Union) Office, the EU, the OIE (Headquarters and Sub-Regional Office) and the FAO.

Since 2017, very significant progress has been made: the ERFAN becomes an OIE project, new partners have joined the network and an organization structure has been drafted.

Submitted to the International Organization of Animal Health(OIE) in December 2017, “ERFAN” project was approved in October 2018, as per the note of the General Director of the OIE, Dr Monique Eloit. The OIE will fund for four years the general, regional and working groups meetings in which the partners of Network will have the opportunity to discuss on issues of common interest in the veterinary field. The African and Italian partners will have the opportunity to plan the activities, to share objectives and goals to pursue in the SADC an UMA Region and to report up-to-date information on scientific activity progress. The planning of meetings ( dates specified) will ensure the monitoring and evaluation of “ERFAN project”.

Now eight countries ( and 11 Veterinary Institutions) of Southern Africa and five countries ( and 6 Veterinary Institutions) of North Africa are members of ERFAN. Concerning the Southern Africa, the partners are: Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe. In North Africa, Algeria, Lybia, Morocco, Mauritania and Tunisia signed the Letter of Intent in order to join the network. Four Italian Istituti Zooprofilattici Sperimentali (IZS) besides IZSAM are partners of ERFAN: IZS-Napoli, IZS-Torino, IZS-Foggia, IZS-Palermo.

The ERFAN structure, identified jointly with the partners during recent meetings, consists of: Secretariat, Scientific Committee, Steering Committee and Working Groups. The ERFAN bodies ensure the participation of all partners to the making-decision and equal opportunities to achieve a high scientific level.