Training on epidemiological studies of animal diseases in West Africa
A Subregional technical training workshop was held in Lomé (Togo) from 12 to 15 April 2016 on epidemiological studies of animal diseases in West Africa. The event was organized by FAO in partnership with the Government of Togo and is set within the project framework for capacity building for control and disease surveillance of animal diseases, which was funded by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) of the United States of America, following the eradication of rinderpest. The four-day training assembled epidemiologists and laboratory technicians from veterinary services as well as research workers involved in the study of animal diseases from several countries including Benin, Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Chad, Guinea, Niger, Senegal, Mali and Togo.
Rinderpest is historically one of the most destructive of all epizootic diseases. In the past the disease was responsible for the massive loss of cattle and wild fauna in Africa, Asia and Europe. It was also the cause of many famines because of the inability to plant or harvest sufficient crops as a result of the loss of cattle and buffalo in farming communities that are dependent on draught animals.
Following the eradication of rinderpest, which was declared in June 2011, FAO and OIE adopted a joint strategy based on follow-up measures aimed at maintaining a rinderpest-free world through several activities, in particular, emergency planning, identifying potential reservoirs of the virus constituting a threat of reintroduction and the continued training of vets on diagnostics and surveillance.
The meeting in Lomé offered participants the opportunity to:
- improve field study skills (monitoring warnings, development and confirmation of hypotheses through epidemiological data and samples) as well as disease surveillance of rinderpest and other rare diseases, all of which have significant potential impact;
- encourage the use of report forms and the management and analysis of databases, as well as risk assessment;
- encourage systematic implementation of formal disease follow-up processes, drafting and submission of regional, national and global reports;
- establish processes for systematic risk assessment.
The work was led by veterinary epidemiologists from FAO’s Animal Health Service and Dr. Bidjeh Kebkiba a veterinary doctor who is an expert in rinderpest and currently Head of the Virology Department at the veterinary and zootechnical research laboratory in Farcha, Chad, which is currently the Livestock Research Institute for Development (IRED).
The four days of work helped boost the capacity of participants to detect the outbreak of rinderpest and other rare animal diseases. The management of field surveys and disease surveillance and the capacity to carry out risk analysis have also improved.
The opening ceremony was chaired by the Directeur de Cabinet of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation, Mr Dindiogue KOLANI, who was representing his country’s ministry. FAO Representative from Togo, Mr Antonio ISAAC MONTEIRO was also in attendance.