24 August 2016 - The FAO Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD) in the United Republic of Tanzania in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries (MALF) organized a training program on the surveillance Protocol of Filoviruses in livestock from 10th – 12th August 2016 at the Tanzania Veterinary Laboratory Agency (TVLA), Dar es Salaam. The training was organized as part of the implementation plan of the FAO’s component of the USAID-funded Emerging Pandemic Threat phase 2 (EPT2) Programme in Tanzania. The EPT2 Programme is aimed at addressing the continued threat and drivers of emerging and re-emerging diseases under the framework of the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA). It envisages to strengthen the capacity of health systems for effective prevention, detection and response against emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases including Ebola.
The training benefited a total of 25 animal health personnel drawn from the Department of Veterinary Services and TVLA at central, zonal and district levels. The training was delivered by resource persons from MALF, FAO (HQ and Tanzania) and PREDICT2.
The training was organized in preparation to implement the National Plan for Surveillance of Filoviruses in Livestock (NSPF) as of September 2016. The main objective of the training program was to equip the national surveillance teams with the required technical, organizational and operational aspects of the surveillance program of filoviruses in livestock with the following specific objectives included: (i) introduce FAO’s technical approaches for surveillance of filoviruses in livestock; (ii) to test the SOPs developed for surveillance of filoviruses in livestock; (iii) to train the teams with techniques for selection of animals for sampling; (iv) to carry out hands-on training on sample collection, labelling, preservation and transportation; (v) to train teams on data collection using electronic data collection tool developed by FAO; and (vi) to train teams on sample storage and archiving in diagnostic laboratories.
The training workshop kicked-off with opening remarks from Dr Furaha Mramba, the Chief Executive of TVLA, and Dr Zelalem Tadesse representing the FAOR in Tanzania, Mr Fred Kafeero. It was officially opened by the representative of the Permanent Secretary (PS) for Livestock in MALF, Dr. John D. Omolo. In his speech the Guest of Honor stressed on the importance of strengthening preparedness capacity for emerging and re-emerging TADs and Zoonoses. Dr Omolo narrated how adequate preparedness could have helped in averting the severe outbreaks of RVF experienced in 2006/7 following weather forecasts for its possible occurrence. He went on to further mention that the 2006/7 RVF outbreak had significant public health and economic consequences as it occurred when the country didn’t have sufficient preparedness and response plan for such animal/public health emergencies. Dr Omolo also thanked FAO for supporting MALF in strengthening its capacity for early detection and rapid response against public health important zoonotic diseases as well as other TADs. Furthermore, all the three speakers thanked USAID for funding the implementation of EPT2, which will have significant contribution to build the capacity of animal health systems for early detection and rapid response to emerging and re-emerging diseases.
Technical presentations combined with plenary discussions and field work were applied to deliver the training. Following productive deliberations and field practice, the following main results were achieved after the three-day training program: (i) surveillance teams trained on the SOPs and work flow of the surveillance program; (ii) surveillance teams trained on procedures for sample collection, labelling, preservation, transportation and storage; (iii) surveillance teams trained and practiced the use of SOLAR (Surveillance Outputs and Laboratory Analysis Repository) for data and information collection.
The training program was concluded by charting the following way forward for smooth implementation of the surveillance program, which is scheduled to begin in September:
- Surveillance team members to continue practicing the use of the data collection tool (EpiCollect) as well as sample collection from target species, especially from pigs;
- FAO and MALF team to develop and circulate summary of one-pager SOPs; and surveillance team members to continue familiarizing themselves with the SOPs;
- FAO and MALF to finalize preparation of standardized message intended to sensitize livestock farmers during the field work;
- FAO and MALF to finalize formulation of surveillance teams by selecting members from the trained staff;
- FAO and DVS to finalize selection of households, and DVOs to sensitize the selected households on the surveillance program ahead of the sampling dates;
- FAO HQ to improve the data collection tool taking into account the feedback provided during the training.