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Greetings from the Director

As tradition dictates, Dr. Jean Paul Gonzalez delivered his New Years’ greetings to the staff on January 7, 2024 in the hall of the Guest House. Before a full house, he took the opportunity to review the past year and outline the prospects for the coming year. His speech is reprinted below.

Dear Colleagues,

One year has ended and another is beginning. It is the right moment to take stock, but also a moment to pause and reflect on the future. As the year 2010 comes to a close, the CIRMF must look at its achievements and prepare for the coming year to improve what we have done and perfect what we have yet to do.
In reviewing the events of 2010, we note a strong commitment on the part of Management to reducing inequalities, making the major investments granted by our Board of Directors, and ensuring continued excellence in the missions of the CIRMF.

 


Efforts to reduce inequality included the introduction of a salary scale and a job classification system that recognizes everyone’s place in our organization and ensures the future. In addition, the CIRMF now offers fair health coverage for everyone. Further social progress, long overdue, includes a more equitable bonus for school fees and guaranteed access to bank loans, as well as the acquisition of a new vehicle for transporting personnel.
Major investments have been made to preserve and sustain our infrastructure. This involved renovating existing facilities to bring them into line with current safety standards, a vital mission for our organization, which, as such, must be exemplary.

In addition, we began building new infrastructure to enable the CIRMF to grow. Thus, several projects were initiated to maintain the CIRMF at a world class level, certain laboratories were completely renovated, the cold rooms were rehabilitated, and other facilities were constructed, such as the insectarium and the health ecology laboratory.
The  CIRMF Gorilla and Chimpanzee field station in Lopé National Park has received major investments such as satellite networking to provide added security, an Internet telephone system, renovation of the laboratory, upgrading of the electrical system, and overhaul of the drilling system for water.

The CIRMF real estate and fixtures were appraised for the first time in thirty years, and the campus was secured by a perimeter fence.

The excellence of the research mission of CIRMF led to several major discoveries. I will mention just a few for the record:

- Demonstration of the existence of a potential natural protection in certain Gabonese populations against Ebola;

- Isolation and characterization of novel viruses similar to those of AIDS;

- The contribution of the CIRMF in discovering the origin of the malaria parasite with the discovery of Plasmodium gaboni in chimpanzees;

- The acquisition of basic data on infectious diseases of primates, to better understand and fight against diseases that affect humans.

 

As for excellence in education, I need only mentioned the PhD students from USS, hosted, supervised and directed by our scientific staff to write their theses, who obtained the highest academic distinction for the quality of their work done at the CIRMF.

The involvement of the CIRMF scientific staff alongside the University of Science and Technology of Masuku in the development of its first Master and the hosting of interns from the school.

 

Support for public health has been ongoing, effective and efficient:

 

- At the national level, the CIRMF participated in controlling outbreaks such as chikungunya in the Upper Ogooué and Ogooué Lolo;
- At the regional level, the CIRMF played a major role in the diagnosis and provided decision-making assistance to the Congolese authorities during the polio epidemic of Pointe Noire.

Probably the most rewarding for us all was the wonderful celebration of the thirtieth anniversary of the CIRMF that His Excellency Ali Bongo, President of the Gabonese Republic and his wife, Mrs Sylvia Bongo, did us the great honour of presiding within our very Center. In addition to this wonderful tribute, the President of the Gabonese Republic, a few weeks later, reiterated his commitment to our institution by inviting his counterpart, His Excellency Nicolas Sarkozy, President of the French Republic, to discover the immense potential of this top-notch research facility in Gabon. Thus, the two countries, represented at the highest level, once again showed their ongoing support for the CIRMF, now and in the future.
Finally, none of this would have been possible without the unwavering support, since the inception of the CIRMF, of the Gabonese Government, Total Gabon and the ongoing commitment of the French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs.

This review of 2010 that I have the great pleasure of sharing with you is not of course limited to only these events, though they are important.

I want to heartily congratulate the staff of the CIRMF for all their efforts in helping our organization develop, restructure and upgrade with a view to emergence.

I am also pleased to note that thanks to the dedication and sense of responsibility of all, the major construction work was completed with no interruption in the activities of the Centre.

Clearly, each of you has made every effort to serve the CIRMF in accordance with the wishes of management and the guidelines given by your supervisors. In 2010, a permanent dialogue between management and staff was instituted at the CIRMF. The results cited above are the product of this constructive dialogue.

Gabon today is justifiably proud to own one of the leading research centres in Africa, admired and respected by the international community. This outcome is unequivocally the result of our work, our partners, and the thirty-year constancy of the founding members of the CIRMF.

In 2010, we learned to work together to enhance the vitality of our organization, making the product of our work more visible to those not yet familiar with us and retaining the trust of those who support us. We have acquired a way of thinking and acting in the common interest of the CIRMF and Gabon: we can face the future with serenity.

And we are preparing for the future with good governance based on trust, solidarity and hard work, and with the ongoing trust and support provided at the highest level.

2011 will be the year of the preservation of social gains, continued actions to improve social justice, development of joint research, and integration of the CIRMF into the health system of Gabon.

The job classification system will ensure fair promotions based on recognized criteria, skill, knowledge, enthusiasm and diligence. Improving each staff member in his or her functions and performance will be a constant concern of management, and for that, I urge the management team to be more attentive to personnel management and employee requests.

For the year ahead, I wish to see the solidarity, responsible commitment and mutual trust necessary for the consolidation of a very promising future.

My best wishes for Health, Happiness, and Success to you and your families.

 

Thank you

 

Franceville, January 1, 2024

 

Dr. Jean Paul Gonzalez
Director General of the CIRMF