15 March 2019 - The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Animal Health Service (AGAH) is strengthening the veterinary epidemiology capacity in many countries in Africa. A strong national veterinary epidemiology capacity will enhance the effectiveness of surveillance systems, improve disease reporting and responses to outbreaks. A standardized and systematic approach to assess veterinary epidemiology capacities and training needs is required in order to develop a national strategy for veterinary workforce in general and epidemiology capacity in particular. The initial set of steps of the assessment entail: 1) benchmarking the veterinary epidemiology capacities at national and sub-national levels, using the Epidemiology Mapping Tool (EMT) to characterize the institutional framework that creates an enabling environment for the development of the required capacities and; 2) identifying training needs in veterinary epidemiology at various levels in order to better inform the national veterinary workforce development strategy.
FAO conducted a comprehensive assessment of the epidemiology capacity and training needs in Guinea. The assessment team was composed of experts from FAO Headquarters, FAO Representation in Guinea, and the Direction Nationale des Services Vétérinaires (DNSV) of the Ministry of Livestock in Guinea. The field mission took place from 18-22 February 2019 and, involved consultations with multiple stakeholders and relevant partners at national and sub-national levels. Structured and semi-structured interviews, and focus group discussions, were held with government and non-government key informants that were identified based on their involvement in veterinary epidemiology services and/or related programmes/projects. These included, but were not limited to, the Ministry of Health, Central Veterinary Laboratory (LCVD), Center for Disease Control and Prevention, National Health Security Agency (ANSS), Veterinary School of Dalaba (ISSMV), and Regional Disease Surveillance Systems Enhancement Project (REDISSE).
The mission recommended the implementation of the national action plan for short-, medium and longer-term capacity development in applied veterinary epidemiology in Guinea. This could be achieved through collaborative efforts involving the government, FAO and other relevant technical and development partners. Epidemiology training needs in applied veterinary epidemiology for a projected 500 frontline staff of the Ministry of Livestock were also identified. Currently, the DNSV is in the process of recruiting of 1200 veterinarians and para-veterinarians and most will benefit from the envisaged applied veterinary capacity development plans.
This FAO assessment provided the government with concrete actionable and prioritized activities with implementation modalities. In the coming months, FAO, in coordination with other national and international partners, will closely work with the veterinary authorities of Guinea and provide technical support in developing a strategy for veterinary epidemiology capacity.