The AFSCAN mentorship/twinning program

Through collaboration with the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) and its Foundation and the African Small Companion Animal Network (AFSCAN), which is an initiative of the Foundation supported by Zoetis, the American Veterinary Medical Association(AVMA) helps manage the program to launch clinic-to-clinic twinning  between select small companion animal veterinary clinics in AFSCAN countries and select small companion animal veterinary clinics led by AVMA member veterinarians in the USA.

The objective of this project is to promote and build sustained relationships and mutual learning that will help veterinary professionals to better understand one another’s perspectives, challenges, and needs and enhance small companion animal health and welfare and understanding of disease surveillance and control on a global basis.

Additional goals are to promote One Health concepts and provide international opportunities for member veterinarians:

  • Paired practices become a community of learning.
  • This includes virtual grand rounds and in-person meetings.
  • Various learning modalities are applied and developed.
  • Better understanding of medical, surgical, and diagnostic methods are shared, with potential opportunities for shared distance continuing education programs to be developed.
  • The aim is to develop a network of veterinary communities among the AFSCAN clinics to serve as the basis for provision of practical advice regarding enhancement of veterinary business practice and raising the status of the veterinary profession in each respective African country.
  • Paired practices become a community of learning.
  • This includes virtual grand rounds and in-person meetings.
  • Various learning modalities are applied and developed.


  • The concept was introduced by Dr Eileen Ball, from Zoetis in Swakopmund at the Ambassadors meeting some five years ago.
  • It has been a long slow process with some stumbling blocks.
  • Covid-19 has also contributed to slower progress.
  • The first virtual meeting was held on the 17th of December 2018.
  • Dove Lewis represented by Mr Ron Morgan and Dr Shana O`Mara paired with practices in Kenya and Namibia.
  • Regular monthly meetings have taken place monthly since the inception of this pilot project.
  • Dr Beth Sabin, AVMA representative has played a pivotal role in driving this program and we are indebted to her for her commitment.
  • I am Dr Kevin Stevens, the AFSCAN twinning co-ordinator and Beth and I usually participate in the meetings.
  • Terms of reference, registration and twinning information is now available on-line.

Current state of events

  • The original Dove Lewis/Kenyan/Namibian group is very active and continues to meet monthly on a virtual basis.
  • Some members have been privileged to attend AVMA and meet face to face for meetings and to spend time in twinning practices.
  • Currently we also have twinning arrangements in place between three practices in Nigeria and three practices in USA.
  • BSAVA also has a twinning arrangement with practices in Zambia and Tanzania.
  • There is a new group of twins just starting up with Tanzania and USA.
  • The AFSCAN ambassadors will meet in Mombasa in late August at the KSAVA/AFSCAN congress and it will be the first opportunity since Covid 19 to finally market the twinning program face to face to our members.
  • We expect to grow our program by welcoming new groups.


  • Financial support for selected AFSCAN veterinarians’ travel and certain other program needs is kindly sponsored by Zoetis and the WSAVA Foundation.
  • AVMA sponsor free conference registration of the participating twins.
  • Paired US veterinarians and US working group members are responsible for their own travel expenses, both international and domestic.

How to get involve

Please feel free to email Dr Kevin Stevens

or Dr Beth Sabin  to find out more about the program.


I have recently returned from the AVMA conference in Denver, Colorado, USA.

By all accounts it was a fantastic Conference, a wonderful experience, and an excellent opportunity for a face-to-face meeting for some of our fortunate twins, who were able to attend in person.

Saturday 15 July 2023 was our AVMA/AFSCAN meeting attended by virtual attendees from Africa as well as delegates that were able to be present. This provided an excellent forum to report back on what works and what doesn’t.

By far the most significant point was that group meetings with twins are more reliable and useful. It was decided that this would be preferable than individual twinning arrangements between just two practices.

In the interim, some of the other twins will join the Dove Lewis/AFSCAN group from Kenya and Namibia to see how it works. The aim then is to form their own breakaway group.

With the upcoming ambassadors meeting in Mombasa at the end of August, we are confident that we will be able to market the twinning program better and be able to form some new groups.

There is currently a new Tanzanian group which is just beginning. They will be twinning with Dr Kelly White in the USA.

It was also clear that to continue to receive sponsorship it is essential to give feedback to our sponsors. Regular reports were requested on a quarterly basis.

We look forward to the minutes which will summarize the salient points raised and the calls to action.

Besides the valuable exchange of ideas, the highlight was the building of new friendships and the opportunity to spend time together.

From attending many lectures together and discussing the content we were able to bond at the social functions too.

If the photos could talk, they would speak to the fun time we shared and the invaluable experience of attending a world class veterinary conference.

Thank you WSAVA, AFSCAN and AVMA and each one of you for participating!

Dr Kevin Stevens, AFSCAN twinning co-ordinator


It is an absolute privilege to be part of this group who has met monthly for almost 5 years now. Every single meeting has been a learning experience for me -from veterinary clinical aspects, over mental health to cultural and geographical aspects. There are so many different ways of dealing with a problem and it is great to hear how people in various countries deal with them. These meetings have become part of my monthly routine I’d hate to miss. My colleagues have been very supportive in helping me attend and also get the run-down of our case discussions the following day.

This regular exchange of ideas is truly valuable and has certainly positively impacted the way I practice veterinary medicine. Discussing cases on our WhatApp group has been a great help and I appreciate everyone’s time and input. I’ve experienced these meetings as being a safe learning environment, where everyone can just ask questions and give input. We have come to know one another much better over the years, with the highlight being our in-person meeting at the AVMA in July 2023. Unfortunately, not all members could join, but hopefully we’ll all meet in person sometime in the future. Thank you for granting me the opportunity to be part of this Twinning Project!
Dr Alex Marco, Namibia.

Over the past five years, our group has been a consistent presence throughout the global pandemic and other struggles.  As a clinician, this has been an important touchstone for me, bringing into focus the practice of medicine and professional collaboration that can sometimes be obscured by the distractions of daily practice.  The relationships I have built with my group are some of the strongest professional bonds that I have experienced through almost 20 years of practice.  Getting the opportunity to meet some of my colleagues in person after years of zoom interactions has been such a pleasure!  Medically, our cases have pushed me to understand diseases I have never encountered and consider what tools facilitate diagnosis and treatments versus adding information that doesn’t progress care of the patient.  I am so grateful for the opportunity to participate in this program and hope to see it continued and expand in reach so that others might benefit as well.
Dr Shan O` Mara, USA

My experience with the US-Namibia/Kenya/South Africa group has been exceptional. I did not know what to expect going into it years ago and it has been rewarding in many ways. I have gained a greater understanding and appreciation for work my global colleagues do in a setting where they may not have the conveniences and resources I have access to.  My group has a wonderful dynamic and no doubt we will continue to remain friends in the future outside of the Twinning Program. I have developed a new enthusiasm for the work my global colleagues are doing and wish all international students had the opportunity to participate in knowledge exchange as easily as we do.  I learn from them as much as (hopefully) they learn from us! I hope this endeavour continues to grow to include other N. American private practices as well as universities. It would be amazing to see global outreach and intercontinental education is part of veterinary school curricula to help further bridge the gap between our colleagues. I cannot express enough how grateful I am to be a part of this pilot project and personally consider it to be a success.
Dr Ladan Mohammad-Zadeh, DVM DACVECC