Africa is endemic for histoplasmosis, emergomycosis, mycetoma and several other endemic fungi. Among patients with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, cryptococcal meningitis and pneumocystis pneumonia are a common cause of death among many African patients. Additionally, invasive candidiasis and aspergillosis and chronic pulmonary aspergillosis, fungal asthma, fungal keratitis and tinea infections all contribute to significant morbidity and mortality among African subjects. It is estimated that 700,000 fungal deaths occur in the setting of HIV infection, most of which occur in Africa.
Against the high burden of fungal infections in Africa, there is a pervasive picture of inadequate/ poor diagnostic capacity, low level of awareness/ index of suspicion among health care workers and policy makers, unavailability and non-accessibility to antifungal medications. Most African countries have poorly funded and overburdened health systems. Additionally, a high prevalence of HIV in Sub-Saharan Africa contributes to a high burden of opportunistic fungal infections.
The African sub-region has not previously developed a network of mycology experts whose goal is to provide a common platform for a compressive discussion and collaboration on fungal infections. The result of which has been uncoordinated activity of various scientists, academicians and societies, producing a duplication of efforts and deficit in knowledge and care.
On account of this deficit, there is need to organize African clinicians, microbiologists, scientists, pharmacists and technicians into a Working Group, the Pan-African Mycology Working Group (PAMWG), in order to organize and engage African leaders in the field of medical mycology in the African sub-region linked to ISHAM. The aim of this Working Group is to provide a better interaction and synergy among regional leaders in order to develop educational programs to aid in the diagnosis and care of patients with fungal infections in Africa. The Working Group will also encourage country initiatives to develop clinical guidelines for the clinical management of fungal infections and to support surveys, and support the need for the establishment of reference mycology laboratories.