The International Services for the Acquisition of Agribiotech Application (ISAAA AfriCenter) and The University of Nairobi, Kenya Aids Vaccine Initiative – Institute of Clinical Research (KAVI-ICR) organized a webinar to sensitize stakeholders on Rift Valley fever following a recent confirmed outbreak of the disease. The two organizations collaborated under the Capacitating One Health in East and Southern Africa (COHESA) project,  which is led by a consortium of International Livestock Research Institute, The French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD) and ISAAA AfriCenter. In the move to facilitate journalist-expert linkage and integration of One Health solutions across society, the webinar was structured to include science journalists and technical experts in the One Health landscape. In attendance were 62 stakeholders comprising of 19 females and 43 males. The webinar was also attended by 20 journalists from print and radio media agencies. Dr. Marianne Wanjiru Mureithi of The University of Nairobi moderated the discussion.

After the introduction by Prof. Omu Anzala of KAVI-ICR set the One Health tone, Dr. Benard Bett’s presentation on transmission dynamics of Rift Valley fever (RVF) followed. RVF is caused by a virus that affects humans and vertebrate animals, and transmitted by a specific mosquito which breeds rapidly after flooding and pooling of water from heavy rains. It can also be acquired by contact with infected blood especially during animal slaughter or assisted birth in livestock. Prof. Salome Bukachi further presented some of the sociocultural dynamics of the disease which may sometime be overlooked and limit its prevention and control during an outbreak. She reiterated the importance of streamlining the different narratives by considering perceptions from different actors including community leaders and gender considerations while tackling RVF. Dr. Evans Mwangi wrapped the presentations by expounding on the environmental aspects of RVF. He elaborated on the relationship between environmental factors such as weather and climate, landscape forms, and mosquito species population dynamics affecting the transmission of RVF.

Ms. Bibiana Iraki of ISAAA AfriCenter reiterated the importance of bridging the gap between One Health and communities through the media by improving the relationship between scientists and journalists for accurate and timely reporting. She ended with a call for experts and journalists to sign up to the Africa Science Dialogue which is an online platform that connects experts and journalists to address misinformation and enhance the use and application of scientific findings to inform choice and decision-making.