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Training biosecurity officers in Fiji to tackle biozoonotic diseases

01/12/2017 Suva, Fiji

Training for Biosecurity Officers to increase their capacity in tackling biozoonotic diseases was recently held in Suva, Fiji.  The training workshop was held as part of a larger effort of BAF to effectively address the spread of zoonotic diseases not only endangering human and animal health but also having potentially grave economic consequences.

The spread of biozoonotic diseases, which can be harmful to both animals and humans, is a threat that the Biosecurity Authority of Fiji (BAF) is taking very seriously.

Biosecurity Officers from across the country attended the training and covered topics such as animal disease surveillance, techniques for testing animals, GIS plotting, farm biosecurity and reporting. Mock scenarios on visiting farms and fill were also conducted.

The likelihood of outbreaks of diseases such as Leptospirosis, Brucellosis and Bovine Tuberculosis increases after cyclones and natural disasters with improper disposal of carcasses and debris and the uncontrolled movement of animals from farms.  

Tuberculosis due to its zoonotic transmission is suspected to contribute to a significant number of the tuberculosis cases in Fiji.

This was a concern particularly in the wake of TC Winston which struck Fiji in February 2016.

Building the trust of farmers was identified as a vital link in helping farmers cooperate with BAF. In some cases farmers were unaware of the role of BAF itself therefore denying access of officers to their farms on surveillance missions.

The application of information technologies such as geographic information systems (GIS) to boost efforts to predict potential occurrence of diseases was also covered at the workshop. GIS has made a tremendous contribution to the development for the surveillance of animal diseases.

National Biosecurity Officers from around the country received training in the GIS as well as hands on experience with GPS/GIS equipment.

With financial assistance from Belgium, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) have supported the strengthening the capacities of the Government technicians to put in place biosecurity measures to prevent the spread of zoonotic diseases. FAO is also helping the authorities to prevent further risks, thereby increasing resilience to future crises.

Belgium remains a top donor to the FAO’s Special Fund for Emergency and Rehabilitation Activities, which enables both to rapidly respond to a crisis, financing the immediate purchase of essential agricultural inputs and to quickly launch field activities to protect livelihoods and safeguard food security and nutrition. 

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