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FAO Regional Office for Africa

Early detection and prevention of zoonotic diseases key to minimizing losses

Photo: ©FAO/Samuel Creppy

8  February 2018, Accra, Ghana—Training on zoonotic diseases surveillance in Africa started today, with the aim of detecting diseases early to prevent and minimize loss of human and animal lives.

The Training on Risk Analysis Along Livestock Value Chains for Priority Zoonotic Diseases Surveillance in Africa was organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The event is a three-day technical workshop on sanitary risk assessment and risk analysis along key livestock value chains for Priority Zoonotic diseases of GHSA-1 countries, comprised of Ghana, Tanzania, Ghana, Sierra Leone and, Liberia.

African countries are faced with emergence, re-emerging of endemic pathogens which are threats to public and animal health, animal trade and their products. Many activities related to producing or trading animals or their by-products are at significant risk due to infections in both animals and people from high impact zoonotics and/or transboundary disease agents. The entire value chain of animal production systems and markets must be analyzed to understand drivers of animal diseases in different ecosystems and identify practical, acceptable and cost-effective risk management options.

Dr. Baba Soumare, Regional Manager, Emergency Center for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD), Regional Office for Africa said, “Limited resources to invest into effective disease prevention control systems remain a challenge. There is a need to focus and target interventions to enable early detection and rapid response to these health threats.”

Dr. Soumare further added that manpower and financial resources are finite, and targeting of interventions along critical control points identified during risk analysis helps to optimize use of resources. Such risk analysis in disease control is crucial for early detection and prevention to minimize loss of human and animal lives.

The workshop envisions to equip animal health professionals in GHSA-I countries in Africa to carry out effective value chains risk analysis and risk assessments for priority zoonotic diseases (PZD). Some of these include hazard characterization, stakeholder identification, risk assessment, identification of critical control points, and appropriate risk management options.

The workshop also looks into building capacity of participants for efficient disease control and livestock development policies at country level including reducing the public health impact of PZDs. Participants of the workshop include epidemiologists and value chain experts both from the countries benefitting from GHSA program, and from ECTAD national and regional teams. Renowned epidemiologists, including Nick Taylor, a world recognized expert on veterinary epidemiology, risk assessment and livestock value chain, will be one of the facilitators of the workshop.

French speaking countries will have the same workshop scheduled on 12 to 16 February 2018, with participants from Burkina Faso, Guinea, Cote dIvoire, Mali, Senegal, Cameroon, DR Congo.


Zoonoses encompass  infectious diseases that are spread between animals and people. Some animals can carry harmful germs that can be shared with people and cause illness. These are known as zoonotic diseases or zoonoses. Zoonotic diseases are caused by harmful germs like viruses, bacterial, parasites, and fungi. Examples include rabies, anthrax, tularemia and West Nile virus. Over 60 percent of infectious diseases affecting humans of animal origin.


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