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Searching for African solutions to human and environmental toxicological challenges

CSTS/SETAC Africa 2011 Meeting
31 May–3 June 2011, University of Buea, Cameroon

In recent years, there has been a significant increase in population growth all over the world, particularly in Africa. This has been accompanied by rapid urbanisation, increase in industrial activities and greater exploitation of natural resources. These revolutions have provoked varieties of pollutants such as food additives, pesticides, industrial wastes, heavy metals, noxious gases, plant and animal toxins, and has resulted in huge wastes discharges into the environment. Most of these untreated wastes end up in soils, rivers, lagoons or the atmosphere and cause undesirable human and environmental health hazards. Pollution by pesticides is one of the most serious problems and constitutes a major source of persistent toxic substances. WHO statistics show about 3,000,000 people suffering worldwide from severe pesticides poisoning every year. Data on levels of persistent toxic substances in African environment, their dynamics and effects are certainly insufficient to provide acceptable bases for the management of the environment and its natural resources. Therefore, a clarion call to increase the number of African toxicologists and collaborations is indispensable. This will enhance planning, decision-making and management of Africa's human and environmental resources.

The joint CSTS/SETAC Africa Toxicological Conference is organised to bring together stakeholders involved in research, production, utilisation, release, management or regulation of toxic chemicals. They will brainstorm and seek solutions to Africa’s human and environmental challenges. It is worthwhile noting here that although this would be the 5th SETAC Africa conference, it would also be the very first SETAC Africa conference ever conducted out of the southern/eastern African region and the maiden conference organised by the recently created SETAC Central and West Africa Chapter. In an effort to be more inclusive and encourage a wider participation of African scientists in this multidisciplinary approach to solving Africa’s human and environmental problems, both English and French will be the official languages of this meeting.

During the 4th SETAC Africa meeting in Kampala, Uganda, 2-5 November 2009, it was a general consensus that qualifying African toxicologists required intensive training in all aspects of chemistry (organic, physical, analytical, biochemistry and molecular biology), in addition to the pharmaco- and toxicokinetics, physiology (animal, plant and human), not to omit the environmental issues. It was observed that Africans needed to revise their priorities, curricula and their way of thinking when dealing with drugs, pesticides and all toxicants, solid wastes, hazardous waste and pollutants to be able to shoulder their responsibilities in the near future. The upcoming conference will take this discussion one step forward by offering a two-day general toxicology course which will introduce participants to toxicology as a science, help participants who are interested in toxicology as a future career to make the right choice of disciplines and broaden the knowledge base of participants in the areas of toxicology, including environmental toxicology.