Government has received a US$6 million grant from the World Bank to help finance the setting up of a Zoonatic research laboratory at the University of Zambia (UNZA).

According to a statement issued by First Press Secretary at the Zambian mission in Tokyo, Yotamu Mugara, UNZA Vice Chancellor Professor Luke Mumba, who is in Japan to launch the university’s strategic partnerships with GIFU university, said the laboratory would be a centre of excellence in the Southern African region for the study of zoonoses.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), zoonosis is an infection that is naturally transmissible from vertebrate animals to humans.

Zoonoses may be bacterial, viral, or parasitic, or may involve unconventional agents.

Mugara stated that Prof Mumba announced this when he paid a courtesy call on Zambia’s Ambassador to Japan Ndiyoi Muliwana Mutiti at the Embassy in Tokyo on Monday.

Prof Mumba, who also thanked the Japanese government for giving Zambia about US$5 million, said the grant which was awarded to Zambia when President Edgar Lungu visited Japan in December, 2018, would be used for the rehabilitation and equipping of the Veterinary laboratory at UNZA school of Veterinary Medicine.

“We need to set up the tone for development of science and technical skills in the country. This means our teaching staff must at all times be exposed to new developments in the fields so that they cab pass on appropriate skills to students. The University’s teaching infrastructure and aids must move with the changing technological environment and this requires being part of the international community of researchers to exchange ideas on many challenges facing societies,” said Prof Mumba.

Mugara also stated that Prof Mumba hinted that UNZA in collaboration with the Ministry of Youth and Sports would set up a Sports department in the School of Education to contribute to the growth of the discipline, explaining that “Worldwide, sports have proved to be a lucrative sector with high earnings and potential to contribute to economic development.”

He stated that the Vice Chancellor had since appealed to the Embassy in Tokyo to help the university identify corporate donors who may be willing to provide the institution with expertise and equipment for academic purposes.

Meanwhile, Ambassador Mutiti said the mission in Tokyo had continued to strengthen bilateral relations with Japan in many areas, including the education sector, and promised that the mission shall ensure that players in Zambia’s education sector were linked to strategic institutions in Japan to increase interactions and exchanges for the benefit of the country.

Mutiti further praised UNZA for the strategic approach it had embarked on, describing it as key to achieving the Seventh National Development goals.