Increasing emergency management capacity for transboundary animal diseases in West African countries
12 June 2018 - Because transboundary animal diseases (TADs) are not confined by borders, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Emergency Management Center for Animal Health (EMC-AH) in collaboration with the FAO Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD) Regional Office organized a Good Emergency Management Practice (GEMP) workshop from 9 - 12 April 2018 at the Accra City Hotel in Ghana. This workshop was timely and of paramount importance considering the need to raise awareness in West African countries about emergency management principles necessary to effectively manage TADs towards the common goal of protecting livestock and sustaining livelihoods.
TADs, if not adequately addressed, can have heavy consequences on animal health and food security; and those diseases that are zoonotic pose risks to human health and food safety of the affected countries. The GEMP workshop is designed by the FAO as a tool to increase awareness of a country's Veterinary Services to better prepare, prevent, detect, respond and recover from animal diseases through the implementation of holistic emergency management plans. The workshop is highly participatory using scenarios to discuss the different aspects of animal disease management and highlighting the importance of using a one health approach and multi-sectoral coordination for zoonotic diseases.
The 4-day GEMP workshop gathered 19 participants including, ECTAD country and region leaders and national epidemiologists, from seven West Africa countries: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, Guinea, Mali and Senegal. The first two days of the workshop entailed presenting the GEMP principles and allowing participants to share their experiences in emerging diseases management, including challenges faced by veterinary services in maintaining a required level of preparedness to insure timely responses to disease outbreaks. Mixed in smaller groups to increase dialogue, participants discussed different topics, such as disease surveillance, risk assessment, risk communication, outbreak investigation and response especially for Rift Valley fever and highly pathogenic avian influenza. Participants extensively debated the major bottlenecks in emergency response, such as compensation and resource mobilization, and discussed possible solutions and strategies. Furthermore, participants had an opportunity over the last 2-days, to practice by delivering power point presentations on specific GEMP modules and managing group discussions. A special session was dedicated to the design of scenarios on outbreak investigation and response.
Over the course of the workshop, some key areas that require follow-up actions (from ECTAD and EMC-AH) were identified:
- Conduct additional training on carcass disposal techniques;
- Develop a database for sharing contingency plans, standard operating procedures and document experiences on outbreak managements;
- Develop a protocol for compensation that can be modified (if needed) and utilized by each country;
- Conduct studies on socio-economic impact of animal diseases emergencies to demonstrate the importance of wise investment in preparedness. The outcome of the study could be used a tool for resource mobilization;
- Strengthen one health coordination to better utilize available resources in emergency preparedness for zoonoses.
All participants acknowledged the importance of training trainers on this important topic, as they are now better equipped to pass-on the knowledge to other animal health professionals in their respective countries. The workshop participants expressed appreciation to FAO for organizing and leading this initiative, and requested further support in reviewing their plans and procedures.