06 June 2019 - The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) conducted a training for 15 public veterinarians from Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda to become trainers in participatory epidemiology and participatory disease search (PE/ PDS). The training was based on the outcomes of a regional meeting conducted in January 2019 in Kenya. This meeting identified mechanisms to integrate PE/PDS into routine surveillance systems and developed technical material and a toolbox to facilitate a training of trainers (ToT) approach. These regional initiatives were organized under the Phase II of the FAO/GLEWS Defence Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) funded project to strengthen veterinary epidemiology capacities and animal health programs at country and regional levels in Africa, Eurasia, and Asia.
“While participatory epidemiology/ participatory disease search approaches are cost-effective tools to increase the sensitivity of surveillance systems and disease reporting, they are still currently under utilized in East African countries” emphasized Dr Deo Ndumu, Head of the Veterinary Epidemiology, Disease Surveillance and Investigation at the National Animal Diseases Diagnostics and epidemiology Centre (NADDEC) of the Ugandan Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries.
The participants had the opportunity to apply the tools learnt on the classroom sessions through applied field exercises in Nkumba and Katabi town councils (Wakiso district). The objective of the field exercise was to map the livestock value chains and the animal movement patterns in poultry, pig and dairy cow farms by using different PE tools such as proportional ranking, proportional piling and focus groups discussions. The field exercise gave the opportunity to raise farmers and producers’ awareness on the importance of biosecurity and other preventive measures in limiting and mitigating the spread of infectious diseases at the farm level.
In order to promote the upscaling of the application of PE/PDS tools, the participants prepared country action plans to transfer the acquired knowledge and skills at national level, including the dissemination of disease cheat sheets on three priority diseases for eastern Africa (Rift Valley Fever, Peste des Petits Ruminants and African Swine Fever). It is envisaged that these disease cheat-sheets will help enhancing disease awareness and promote disease recognition and reporting at local level.
Poultry farmer in Nkumba, Wakiso district, Uganda listing the most common clinical signs observed in poultry.
Photo credit: © FAO