Dr. Mesfin Sahle Forsa, with OIE Deputy Director General, Dr Jean Philippe Dop (right), during a visit to NAHDEC in July 2017. Picture (c) P. Bastiaensen (oie) 2017.
Mesfin Sahle Forsa was born on 21 September 1959 in Jemjem, West Showa Zone, Ethiopia. He lost the battle against metastatic liver cancer on 31 August 2019, a battle that he fought with characteristic dignity and grace.
Dr. Mesfin, as he was known to all, received his early training as a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, graduating in 1982 from the Ukrainian Agricultural Academy (in the former USSR). Always keen on learning, he pursued advanced studies, first receiving a Master of Science degree in Virology in 1992 from James Cook University of North Queensland, Australia, and then a PhD in Veterinary Tropical Diseases from University of Pretoria, South Africa, in 2004, where he worked on defining the molecular epidemiology and genetic relationships of foot and mouth disease (FMD) virus in East Africa.
Immediately after his initial veterinary medical training, Dr. Mesfin started his career as a Veterinary Officer in charge of meat inspection and quarantine services at Wondo Genet Export Abattoir in 1983 where he served until 1988. Recognizing his achievements and potential, in 1989, he was promoted and given charge of the Soddo Regional Veterinary Laboratory, where he served until 1997 as Head of the Laboratory, helping establish the facility, providing veterinary services and care, and coordinating the Rinderpest disease control campaign in the entire south-western part of Ethiopia. In 1998, he joined what was the predecessor of the current National Animal Health Diagnostic and Investigation Center (NAHDIC), serving as head of the Microbiology Dept. (1998 – 2000), Head of Virology and Molecular Biology (2004 – 2005), and since March 2006 served as Center Director.
Dr. Mesfin had many notable achievements during his career, amongst these, were his contributions to science through the publication of more than 45 international scientific articles, mentoring hundreds of staff and dozens of post-graduate students, building state-of-the-art new laboratories, animal facilities and training centers at NAHDIC, upgrading diagnostic capacity, introducing the first veterinary laboratory quality management system in the country (ISO 17025) that enabled NAHDIC to serve as a reference laboratory for Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) and Newcastle Disease (ND) diagnosis for 13 East and Central African Countries, establishing strong collaborations on research and capacity building with different national and international laboratories and Universities that attracted several international projects and helped grow scientific and technical capacity of NAHDIC, improving diagnostic capacity of regional veterinary laboratories in Ethiopia and serving on national and international technical and steering committees and as a member of the Ministry of Agriculture on the preparation of the current national livestock disease prevention and control strategy.
The OIE extends its deepest sympathy to his family, friends and colleagues