B. ASSAf Workshop Proceedings and Other Reports

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Proceedings Reports are a verbatim reflection of a live ASSAf event. It is published with consent of all speakers.

Peer-Review Status: Non-Peer Reviewed

Enquiries: Henriëtte Wagner

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Now showing 1 - 10 of 72
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    Global Health Approach for Infectious Diseases – A Proposal for the Next Decade
    (Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf); German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, 2024) Academy of Science of South Africa; German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina; Académie Nationale des Sciences et Techniques du Sénégal; Ethiopian Academy of Sciences
    The German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), the Académie Nationale des Sciences et Techniques du Sénégal (ANSTS), and the Ethiopian Academy of Sciences (EAS) jointly hosted a workshop in May 2023 on "Infectious Diseases beyond COVID-19" at the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin, Germany. The objectives of the workshop were to deliberate on the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and to formulate strategies for enhancing preparedness in the face of both existing and future infectious disease threats, with emphasis on the "One Health" approach and the interplay of climate change. Academia, private enterprises, non-governmental organisations, and political sectors participated in the workshop. Herewith the Conference brief is provided to highlight key recommendations.
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    African Open Science Platform PART II: Frameworks
    (Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), 2019) Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf)
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    Proceedings of thematic session: Establishing an African knowledge democracy for increased social justice and development
    (Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), 2023) Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf)
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    The 5th National Global Change Conference; Transformative Futures for Water Security Seminar
    (Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), 2023) Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf)
    The 5th National Global Change Conference organised by the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) and the National Research Foundation (NRF), in partnership with the University of the Free State (UFS), took place at the Bloemfontein Campus of the UFS, from 30 January to 2 February 2023. The central theme of the 5th National Global Change Conference was: “Research and Innovation Accelerating transformations to global sustainability”. The Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) and the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) jointly hosted a hybrid special session titled, Transformative Futures for Water Security on 31 January 2023. The objectives of the session were to; 1. Obtain sector grounded suggestions to climate change adaptation for the water sector, and 2. Identify data and information gaps under the cloud of climate change to influence planning for a water secure future. This Special Session provided a multisectoral dialogue on South Africa’s water future and adaptation to the influence of climate change. The engagement proposed and discussed actions required nationally and regionally to strengthen water security in the face of global change. The following key recommendations were tabled from the session: 1. Engagement with communities to promote conservation of water resources must be a priority. 2. Municipalities need to develop own groundwater strategies to inform groundwater utilisation. 3. The process of transforming the water sector should be taken to local communities. 4. Water use quotas need to be stricter. 5. The implementation of solutions from the research community is commonly hindered bureaucratic processes; there needs to be means to minimize red tape.
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    Water Security Seminar: Sustainable Development Goal 6, Access to Water and Sanitation for all
    (Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), 2023) Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf)
    On 14 March 2023 the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) hosted the Water Security Seminar to launch the ASSAf Statement on Water Security in South Africa, and engage across sectors on solutions to strengthen water sustainability. The crafting of the Statement was necessitated by the United Nations 2023 Water Conference and to highlight the socio-economic threat in the face of continuously declining water security in South Africa, thus a call for action. The solution targeted Statement was crafted by a 20-member panel from various local institutions. The Statement was in sync with the discussion themes of the UN 2023 Water Conference, namely, (1) Water for Health, (2) Water for Development, (3) Water for Climate, Resilience and Environment, (4) Water for Cooperation, and (5) Water Action Decade. During the Seminar, the Statement was handed over to the water sector leader, the Department of Water and Sanitation represented by their Chief Engineer, Mr Mark Bannister. Mr Bannister additionally gave an overview of South Africa’s progress concerning Sustainable Development Goal 6. Sectors that attended the Seminar include, government (national and local government), academia and research institutions, water boards, business, agriculture, energy generation, media, non-governmental organisations. Seminar attendance by youth was noteworthy as represented by: Jabulani Technical Secondary School (Soweto), South African Young Academy of Science, Sibayeni Metro Farming, Young Water Professionals, South Africa Youth Parliament for Water. During the Seminar, ASSAf additionally communicated endeavours to establish the ASSAf Water Security Forum as a multi-sectoral platform to engage on water issues concerning South Africa.
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    African Academy Development: Strengthening Southern African Development Community (SADC) Science Academies for better service to society workshop
    (Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), 2022) Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf)
    The Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), SADC Secretariat, and Lesotho Academy for Science and Technology (LAST) jointly hosted a SADC Academies Workshop on 5 December 2022 on the sidelines of the World Science Forum 2022. The Workshop was hosted in Cape Town, South Africa at the Park Inn Hotel. The workshop objective was to facilitate the strengthening of Academies’ role in the development and utilization of the Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) ecosystem, as well as policy formulation and implementation. Academies from eleven SADC Member States, DSI, SADC Secretariat, and United Nations Technology Bank for Least Developed Countries (UNTB LDC) participated in the workshop. The UNTB LDC and the Network of African Science Academies (NASAC) have been instrumental partners in establishing science Academies in Angola, Lesotho, Democratic Republic of Congo and Malawi. The Angola Academy of Science (AAS), LAST, and Botswana Academy of Science as some of the recently established academies presented on respective progress to date. Progress by the newly established Academies was appreciated as successful and it was agreed that more needs to be done collaboratively to support these Academies, including joint fund raising and science advisory activities with older Academies. Additionally, it was agreed that the African Academy has to establish and strategically maintain partnerships with policy makers (government), business, civil society, and STI ecosystem if the role and value of Academies is to be strengthened. As a workshop outcome, a SADC Academies Working Group was established to steer the crafting of guidelines; the group consists of ASSAf, LAST, Academy of Sciences in Malawi, Kingdom of Eswatini Academy of Sciences, Academie Congolaise du Sciences, Zimbabwe Academy of Science, and SADC Secretariat. Additionally, UNESCO, NASAC, and UNTB LDC will be invited into the Working Group as they are key partners in operationalization of the African Academy.
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    The implications of COVID-19 for mental health and substance use
    (Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), 2023) Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf)
    The COVID-19 pandemic has had both short- and long-term implications for mental health and substance use, especially for groups at risk of new or exacerbated mental health disorders and those facing barriers to accessing care. History has shown that the mental health impact of disasters outlasts the physical impact, suggesting today’s elevated mental health needs will continue well beyond the coronavirus outbreak itself. The Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) hosted a Mental Health Symposium aimed at obtaining the perspectives of early career researchers. The theme of the symposium on ‘The Implications of COVID-19 for Mental Health and Substance Use’ sought to increase knowledge and build capacity in mental health research amongst early career researchers. As policymakers continue to discuss further actions to alleviate the burdens of the COVID-19 pandemic, it will be important to consider how the increased need for mental health and substance use services will likely persist long term, even if new cases and deaths due to the novel coronavirus subside.
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    Roundtable on Advancing multisectoral and life-course approaches in mental health research
    (Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), 2023) Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf)
    The Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) and the UK Academy of Medical Sciences (AMS) jointly hosted a workshop in November 2022 on Advancing multisectoral and life-course approaches in mental health research and have produced a proceedings report capturing the deliberations and recommendations. The outcomes of the workshop were discussed at the ASSAf/AMS roundtable as part of the SA Mental Health Conference. The need for multisectoral and interdisciplinary approaches to research aimed at improving the mental health and wellbeing of citizens in Africa was highlighted. The Roundtable session provided an important opportunity to network and discuss the research that would best achieve this. The purpose of the Roundtable was to share the findings of the ASSAf/AMS proceedings report (November 2022), to deliberate on the key findings of this report as they pertain to the current state of mental health research in South Africa, to identify challenges, and to determine key stakeholders needed to address these challenges. It also aimed to encourage debate with delegates on practical ways to translate available research findings into action which improve the lives of citizens across the region.
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    Researcher capacity building: supporting the career development of emerging research leaders in Africa
    (Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf); UK Academy of Medical Sciences (AMS), 2023) Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf)
    In November 2022, the UK Academy of Medical Sciences and the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) held a half-day workshop on researcher capacity building, providing opportunities for participants to discuss ways to support the development of early-career researchers. The workshop heard examples of mentoring schemes, leadership development and other career support programmes organised in the UK and Africa. In group sessions, participants reflected on these examples and the lessons they held for capacity development in the UK and countries across Africa. The role that international networks could play in capacity development was also discussed. The discussions highlighted the multiple approaches available to support the personal and professional development of researchers, including different types of mentoring (developmental mentoring, peer mentoring), technical training, leadership development, and coaching. Individuals will have different needs, based on their background, career stage and personal preferences, emphasising the importance of adopting a researcher-centred approach to development programmes, with bespoke features according to requirements.
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    Advancing multisectoral and life-course approaches in mental health research
    (Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf); Academy of Medical Sciences (AMS), 2023) Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf); Academy of Medical Sciences (AMS)
    Although there is some evidence of increasing investment, mental health services are a neglected aspect of healthcare in sub-Saharan Africa.* However, the COVID-19 pandemic – and control measures associated with it – has shone the spotlight on mental health challenges and their human, social and economic costs. The impact of the pandemic has highlighted the importance of the biopsychosocial model of mental health, which recognises that mental wellbeing is affected by the interplay between ‘internal’ biological and psychological factors and ‘external’ social, political, and environmental influences. For the latter, the social determinants of mental health concept highlights how a wide range of external factors across several domains have a critical impact on mental wellbeing. Interventions targeting social determinants or structural factors have the advantage of potentially delivering benefits to large numbers for prolonged periods. In November 2022, the UK Academy of Medical Sciences and the Academy of Sciences of South Africa jointly organised a workshop to explore ways to advance multisectoral and life-course approaches in mental health research in sub-Saharan Africa. In breakout groups, workshop participants discussed successful examples of mental health research in sub-Saharan Africa, similarities and differences across countries, and how greater collaboration could advance multisectoral and life-course approaches to mental health research. These discussions highlighted a range of key themes: • Strengthening and diversifying data sources: Participants suggested that, in some settings, additional data are needed on disease burdens, priority populations and social determinants of mental health which could be used to support advocacy, target action and guide the development of new interventions. As well as epidemiological data, long-term longitudinal data could provide insights into pathways to mental health impact and identify potential points of intervention. • Developing consistent, locally defined, standardised and appropriate metrics for valued outcomes: Delegates stressed the importance of consistency in approaches across studies, and use of contextually validated and standardised measures, to ensure quality and facilitate comparisons and data pooling. These measures need to be culturally relevant and meaningful to people with lived experience, capturing broader social and economic outcomes alongside clinical improvement. It is also important to capture qualitative as well as quantitative inputs through these metrics. To promote a life-course perspective, measures need to be suitable for use beyond the traditional focus on working-age adults. • Promoting translational development: The need for additional research across the translational spectrum was highlighted, including more evaluation of ‘grass-roots’ initiatives, additional confirmatory and larger-scale studies following promising pilot studies, and implementation/operational research to accelerate introduction and scale-up of evidence-based policies and interventions. It was argued that interventions should prioritise integration with existing health system and community platforms, and adopt people-centred approaches. • Strengthening partnerships to achieve the above: Participants identified interdisciplinary and multisectoral collaborations as critical to progress, potentially supported by an integrated conceptual framework to facilitate cross-sectoral interdisciplinary research programmes and intervention development. Strengthened collaboration within the region and internationally, through equitable international partnerships with a commitment to capacity-building, was seen as fundamental. Participants also stressed the need for a systems-based approach and engagement with all relevant actors, including members of the public, the informal health sector (such as traditional and faith healers) and the private sector where appropriate. • Building relationships with people with lived experience to ensure input at all stages: Delegates highlighted the critical importance of engaging with people with lived experience, to provide opportunities for meaningful inputs at all stages of research, including prioritisation of research questions and co-creation and delivery of interventions. • Optimising the mental healthcare workforce: Strengthening and building workforce capacity in mental health were seen as high priorities. Mental health specialists are few in number in the region and further research on strategies such as task-shifting, and scaling up of proven task-shifting interventions, could help to address large treatment gaps. Participants also suggested that there is a need to promote skills development to support greater service and multi-sectoral integration, task shifting, and mental health awareness across relevant sectors. • Supporting advocacy to promote the above: Delegates identified the need for the research community to engage with policymakers to understand their needs and provide evidence-based inputs, to leverage the mainstream media to translate messages for more general audiences, and to work with people with lived experience to achieve co-ordinated and more effective advocacy. By strengthening ties – within Africa and internationally – the mental health research community in the region will be better placed to share knowledge and experience, develop joint and multicentre studies, and raise the profile of mental health research among politicians and policymakers. In doing so, they can help to close the mental health care gap and build a field with the capacity to enhance mental health for all and at all stages of life.
©The Author/Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf)