CampusAfrica22 started this Wednesday in the Auditorium of the University of La Laguna (ULL) in an edition that has the participation of 57 scholars from countries such as Gabon, Ivory Coast, Guinea-Conakry, Guinea-Bissau, Senegal, Cape Verde, Mauritania and Tunisia. The activities will take place until next July 29 under the generic title Climate change, global health and sustainable development: the Atlantic perspective.
The inaugural act was attended by the rector of the institution, Rosa María Aguilar, the councilor for Education of the City Council of La Laguna, José Juan Gavilán, the vice-rector for research of the ULL, Ernesto Pereda de Pablo, and the co-directors of the program Basilio Valladares and José G. Solino.
Admission to the conferences, which will take place in the afternoon in the Pharmacy assembly hall (Guajara Campus) and at the headquarters of the Economic Society of Friends of the Country of Tenerife (San Agustín 23, La Laguna), is free until complete capacity.
The rector of the ULL, Rosa María Aguilar, was in charge of initiating the official act, thanking the students for their presence and placing special emphasis on university collaboration for the implementation of this type of scientific project, a message that Pereda joined de Pablo, as head of the university institution’s vice-rectorate for research. For his part, from the Department of Education of the Lagunero City Council, Gavilán highlighted the choice of the city of Los Adelantados as the venue for the programming and as an open door to scientific-cultural exchange. From the direction of CampusAfrica, José G. Soliño, took advantage of his intervention to remind the scholarship holders that “they are facing an opportunity for learning, in a unique environment such as La Laguna and hand in hand with their University”.
The day started with the special conference Vaccines and neglected diseases: A scientific and ethical challenge, by Dr. Antonio Muro Álvarez (University of Salamanca), who began his presentation with a reflection on the situation of extreme poverty experienced by a large part of humanity and the limitation at the health level that this implies. The specialist made a historical tour of current and forgotten diseases such as dengue, rabies, leprosy, sleeping sickness, Chagas or leishmaniasis.
Muro pointed out that these diseases are more frequent in tropical areas and, in this line, indicated that “the transmission mechanisms of these pathologies are diverse since it can occur through larvae, direct contact with the ground or ingestion itself, as is the case with water. There are many conditions that these forgotten pathologies can cause in people, such as skin disorders such as dermatitis or skin pigmentation (sowda) or even eye injuries that can lead to blindness. “To give you an idea -he pointed out- the onchocerciasis, which affects around 18 million people in the world, causes blindness in around 250,000. Another example could be the disease of loa loawhich also affects sight and is mainly located in sub-Saharan Africa and is identifiable because the larvae can be seen in the conjunctiva of the eye.”
The specialist stressed that, despite the efforts and economic investments made, these have not been enough. “In 2012 the main pharmaceutical companies and other key players got together and invested in this line, but the data to date show that it was not enough,” he explained. In the absence of vaccines, Muro pointed to the application of useful and preventive measures against these pathologies, such as vector control through the use of air conditioning, smoke or fans, the use of light-colored clothing, the revision of the footwear, the limitation of the use of perfumes or colognes, the protection of food to avoid the proliferation of insects or the use of mosquito nets impregnated with specific insecticides. However, despite these measures, the expert pointed out “that reality happens because at present this is greatly complicated by the great socioeconomic differences and geopolitical interests that have culminated in wars and conflicts, in turn generating large population displacements.”
As for the timeline of the creation of vaccines, the specialist emphasized the need for the authorities to bet on research and favor the necessary processes so that the procedures to be fulfilled by the regulatory agencies can be accelerated. “The Covid19 pandemic is a clear example, we have seen how it has been possible to develop vaccines that meet all the guarantees in record time,” he added.
CampusAfrica is organized by the University of La Laguna through the Foundation for the Control of Tropical Diseases (FUNCCET). It is sponsored by the City Council of La Laguna, through the Department of Education, of which José Juan Gavilán is the head, the Cabildo de Tenerife and the ‘laCaixa’ Foundation through CaixaBank. Likewise, Casa Africa, Center for African Studies of the ULL, University Institute of Tropical Diseases and Public Health of the Canary Islands, the Royal Economic Society of Friends of the Country of Tenerife, Binter, Cinfa, Cofarte, Official College of Pharmacists, also participate as collaborators. adDigNost, Collaborative Research Network on Tropical Diseases (Ricet) and CIBER of infectious diseases (CIBERINFEC).
In addition, as key appointments of the established programming, it is worth mentioning the institutional act of the mandela day (July 18, 5:00 p.m. Teatro Leal). For its part, the International Day of Cooperation is scheduled for Monday, July 25 at 5:00 p.m. at the Cabildo Insular de Tenerife, and African academic and ministerial personalities will participate in it, interested in strengthening the cooperation ties between the University of La Laguna and its African counterparts.
The closing day will be on July 28 at 6:00 p.m. and will feature a presentation by the Minister of Ecological Transition, Fight against Climate Change and Territorial Planning of the Government of the Canary Islands, José Antonio Valbuena, on the subject Climate emergency, time to act.