AIMS and BWi host first collaborative virtual research conference

 The African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) in partnership with Baden-Württemberg International hosted the first-ever Research virtual workshop that took place on 20 and 21 April. The workshop aimed at bringing German and African scientists and researchers together to discuss how digitalization contributes to more resilient global health with an overarching goal of facing global issues together, going forward.  

Attended by over 200 scientists and researchers, a variety of topics were discussed including how digitalization can contribute to a more resilient global health, digital research methods & interventions as a dual opportunity for global population health, and so much more. Facilitated by over 10 speakers and panelists, the conference answered some of the questions that lingered about global health. 

“The theme of this conference perfectly interlocks with our current global context, in terms of crisis management, global cooperation, leadership, and above all, science for advancement,” said Lydie Hakizimana, AIMS CEO. “There is no doubt that ICTs present new opportunities for the global advancement agenda, notably, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. We cannot overemphasize the benefits of strategically leveraging these ICTs in global health, especially against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, to ensure expeditious care, efficient data management, accurate science communication, and data science-driven decision-making,” she said. 

Baden-Württemberg is committed to the internationalization of business and science, and it offers numerous services to help the different stakeholders in Germany’s Southwest to branch out into foreign markets. More to that, they support companies, universities and research institutions as well as clusters and networks in tapping into foreign markets putting them in touch with valuable, lasting contacts and facilitating collaboration in the respective target countries. 

“It is our overall aim to foster scientific collaboration between Baden-Württemberg International and Africa because we truly believe that neither of us will be able to face these challenges on our own.” – Sarah Musch, Regional Manager for Africa and Development Cooperation at Baden-Württemberg International. 

The AIMS Community was fully represented by the speakers and panelists. Some of these include Dr. Nana Ama Browne Klutse, AIMS- Canada Research Chair in Climate Change Science, Eva L, Ujeneza, AIMS Alumnae and Lecturer at Rwanda Institute for Conservation Agriculture, Salome Maswime, Head of the Global Surgery Division at the University of Cape Town and NEF Ambassador in South Africa as well as Dr. Bubacarr Bah, German Research Chair at AIMS South Africa. AIMS remains committed to using science to fuel African development. 

“We need to focus digitalization in providing technologies that would support global health efforts; for example, we can have AI powered tools that can help individuals measure their sugar levels without having to go to the hospitals,” said Dr. Bubacarr Bah. “We have seen potential in our students to contribute to research, and they don’t have to work in Africa alone. They can collaborate with Baden-Württemberg; there is a lot of potential in jointly working on global problems together. “ 

Dr. Bah also said that leadership for data is a very big priority because data can be leveraged powerfully for health, but a more moderate approach in selling and communicating scientific results is encouraged to avoid the increase the mistrust in science. Data scientists should also be able to distinguish hype from reality.  

Overall, the conference was a success and the guest speakers provided a lot of value as Audrey Namdiero-Walsh, Director, European Operations & Acting Director, Gender and Inclusion, AIMS, summarized. 

 “Our guest speakers have presented the potential that digital health and health innovation have in supporting and building resilient health systems. For example, how digital health applications have worked to increase awareness about diseases and their causes, and how these have shown to change health behaviors in a positive way.” she said. It was a really productive event; scientists connected, the impact of digitalization on global health was highlighted, and challenges and solutions were discussed. 

The event gave hope that a more equitable and resilient global health is possible. Challenges are in existence but so are great opportunities; with more cooperation and collaboration between African and German scientists, more equitable health systems would be achieved.  

The next Research conference is scheduled to take place in June 2021.