06 June 2019 - In the context of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Project (GCP/GLO/892/USA) funded by the US Defence Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) entitled “Strengthening Global Veterinary Epidemiology Capabilities and Rapid Regional Disease Surveillance Information and Sharing”, a 5-day training workshop was organized in Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) from April 29 to May 3, 2019. This training was a collaborative undertaking between FAO AGAH/GLEWS, ECTAD East Africa and the Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale dell'Abruzzo e del Molise (IZSAM).
Eighteen early-mid career district level animal health officers (11 men and 7 women) from six Anglophone countries of Eastern and Western Africa were selected based on their experience in disease investigation and management (three trainees from each of the participating countries: Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone and Liberia). The training focused on the application of rapid risk assessment (RRA) methods in outbreak situations, including hazard-profiling, formulation of risk questions, scenario trees methods, expert knowledge elicitation, uncertainty analysis, and principles of risk communication and reporting. Risk analysis guidelines by Codex Alimentarius (2014) and OIE (2010) were also used as references. Breakout groups and MS Excel and R programming were used in the hands-on exercises to design and analyze specific risk assessment case studies for selected diseases (e.g., Brucellosis, RVF, HPAI, etc.).
During animal health emergency threats (e.g., disease outbreaks), conducting risk assessments is essential to characterize and estimate risks, and define options to inform timely prevention and control measures to reduce disease impacts. This week-long training enabled and equipped the participants to design and conduct a national-level RRA on selected animal health threats. The trainees were then given an opportunity to develop projects for which they will conduct risk assessments with the support of mentors from the training team.
This initiative aims at promoting the application of the acquired knowledge and skills to generate risk-based evidence, and support the national veterinary authorities in making informed decisions for prevention and control of animal health threats. As trainees complete these tasks in their respective countries, their work could be further disseminated through technical and scientific communications to national and regional audiences promoting knowledge sharing at the regional level.