An international expert workshop was organized from 23 to 26 November 2010 by the EMPRES-Animal Health (Emergency Prevention System) Programme of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), which convened 50 leading experts on animal disease surveillance, epidemiology, animal health and livestock information systems development, and policy makers.
Four objectives were articulated for the workshop participants:
- To identify successes and challenges faced by current national, regional and global surveillance systems, and propose means to overcome the challenges, including strategies to facilitate data sharing and technology transfer between national, regional and global health information systems.
- To discuss standardizing mechanisms for exchange of data between information systems, by encouraging the use of open source software and technologies.
- To identify appropriate methods to improve the collection, management, analysis and use of geo-referenced data on transboundary animal diseases (TADs), zoonoses and other emerging diseases.
- To seek consensus on protocols to share official and unofficial data between national, regional and global animal health information systems.
The workshop participants listed the five most important factors that are lacking in order to effectively conduct national, regional and international surveillance for animal (both domestic and wildlife) and zoonotic diseases:
- Lack of understanding by national and subnational decision-makers and stakeholders of the importance of animal disease surveillance.
- Policy makers too focused on their individual mandates to communicate, cooperate and collaborate, rather than thinking collaterally.
- Insufficient funding for disease surveillance activities.
- Lack of epidemiological capacity (including human resources, tools, etc.) at the national and subnational levels.
- Insufficient training in surveillance methodologies.
Outcomes of the workshop included key recommendations to improve and support disease surveillance activities from grassroots level to global surveillance for emergent and transboundary animal diseases.