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Zimbabwean scientist Nyakupinda honoured at global tsetse fly research conference in Kenya

By Agencies

BINDURA University of Science Education alumni Learnmore Nyakupinda proudly lifted the country’s flag high in scientific research, after his research was ranked as one of the best during the 36th General Conference of the International Scientific Council for Trypanosomiasis Research and Control.

Nyakupinda, 38, is an Entomologist/Glossinologist and expert in data management and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) of Zimbabwe’s Division of Tsetse Control Services.

His scientific poster at the conference attended by eminent scientists from across the world was ranked second behind that of Kenya’s Julia Wanjira Muita, who is a student at Jomo Kenyatta of Agriculture and Technology,. Another Kenyan, Isaiah Ndaburu Kiteto’s research poster was ranked third.

The conference, which was hosted at the coastal city of Mombasa, reviewed existing control measures and looked into adopting new innovative ways and policies that will help eradicate tsetse flies and Trypanosomiasis, also known as the sleeping sickness.

The African Union and Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Co-Operatives were among the institutions that participated in the conference.

Nyakupinda’s research poster revolved around data management in the war against tsetse flies.

“You need to have a strategy while dealing with this vector. You need to clear an area and ensure it is free. Data management also helps you to easily identify (where the tsetse flies are found),” Nyakupinda said.

Experts speaking during the conference said the entry of young scientists into the field was a good thing for the future of the African continent.

The 25-year-old Kenyan student Julia Wanjira Muita during the 36th General Conference of the International Scientific Council for Trypanosomiasis Research and Control in Mombasa.

Kenya’s Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua challenged the scientists to focus on developing “African solutions for African problems.”

The Deputy President spoke earlier this week when he opened the five-day conference.

The conference, which ended on Friday, brought together stakeholders from over 38 tsetse-infested African Union (AU) Member States, encompassing disease control workers, scientists, researchers, and key representatives.

The relentless fight against the disease is driven by the International Scientific Council for Trypanosomiasis Research and Control (ISCTRC), a vital arm of the African Union Commission.

According to the African Union-InterAfrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR), Trypanosomiasis occurs over 10 million sq km in 38 countries. About 2,804 human cases were reported in 2015.

About 50 million cattle are at risk with 35 million trypanocide doses used and 3 million deaths of cattle reported annually. Agricultural production loss due to trypanosomiasis is estimated at US$ 5 billion per year.

Trypanosomiasis claims 50,000 lives annually, within Africa and covers over 10 million square kilometers in 38 countries, with 1000 human cases reported in 2022.

African Union InterAfrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) Director Dr. Huyam Salih on Monday said there was a chance to eliminate tsetse and the disease in the continent, by working together.

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