27 May 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 workshop from 17 to 19 May 2016 to develop a National Surveillance Plan for Filoviruses in Livestock. The workshop was held as part of implementing the FAO component of the USAID-funded Emerging Pandemic Threat phase 2 (EPT-2) Programme in the United Republic of Tanzania. The 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) through strengthening prevention, detection and response related to emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases including Ebola and other filoviridae.
The workshop brought together key national stakeholders of the EPT-2 Program in the United Republic of Tanzania. It was attended by 19 participants representing MALF (Department of Veterinary Services – DVS and Tanzania Veterinary Laboratory Agency – TVLA), PREDICT-2, Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI) and FAO (HQs, Regional and Country Offices). The aim was to jointly discuss and adopt the draft National Plan for Surveillance of Filoviruses in Livestock (NSPF) prepared by FAO and the DVS. The NSPF will guide systematic and objective sampling and data collection for the United Republic of Tanzania under the framework of the EPT-2 program. Specific objectives of the workshop were to (i) validate the draft NSPF and enrich the various sections, (ii) agree on the regions and districts that will be included in the filoviruses surveillance, (iii) define the approach and sampling method, such as selection of sampling units and sample size, and (iv) finalize the NSPF for the United Republic of Tanzania.
The workshop started with opening remarks from the Director of the DVS, Dr Abdu Hayghaimo, followed by an official opening speech by the Representative of FAO (FAOR) for the United Republic of Tanzania, Dr Patrick Otto.
In his opening remarks, the Director of VS of the United Republic of Tanzania thanked FAO for the efforts to ensure that the EPT-2 programme in the United Republic of Tanzania is successfully implemented. He noted that although the United Republic of Tanzania has never reported Ebola incidence so far, the country is at high risk as it borders the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda that had both reported the disease in humans. In this regard, he underscored the importance of developing the NSPF and urged the participants to unite efforts to meet the objectives of the workshop. In his opening speech, the FAOR emphasized that implementation of the EPT-2 Programme supports the realization of FAO’s long-term goal of achieving food security for all, and specifically contributing to one of the five strategic objectives of FAO that is to “increase the resilience of livelihoods to threats and crises”. He noted that the FAO EPT-2 Program focuses on livestock and is aimed at mitigating potential negative impacts of Ebola and other filoviruses as well as other high impact zoonoses associated with livestock under the framework of the GHSA. The FAOR further emphasized that development of a NSPF in Livestock is the first and very important activity to be implemented in the context of the national EPT-2 Work plan, serving as the foundation for subsequent surveillance activities. He concluded by thanking the MALF for partnering with FAO to implement the EPT-2 program and participants for having accepted the invitation.
The workshop participants contributed to the finalization of the NSPF through group work and discussions, taking ownership of the NSPF and the EPT-2 Program which will facilitate smooth implementation of subsequent activities in a coordinated manner. Three presentations were also provided, aiming at enhancing knowledge of participants on sampling and sample size determination (by FAO) as well as sharing information on surveillance of filoviruses in wildlife and humans (by PREDICT-2).
The next steps necessary to finalize development of the NSFP were agreed upon as follows:
- FAO and DVS teams to finalize the write-up of the NSPF by end of May 2016;
- FAO and DVS teams to contact the District Veterinary Officers (DVOs) in the selected districts and get the list of villages (to serve as sampling frame) and population of the target species by end of May 2016;
- FAO and DVS teams to undertake joint missions to selected districts in collaboration with the zonal veterinary centres and finalize selection of target villages in consultation with DVOs and Zonal Veterinary Officers (ZVOs) by June 2016.