To date, TADinfo has been deployed in some 16 countries in Africa and Asia, and requests from other countries in Africa, the Near East and South America are being processed.
The lessons learned so far have shown that in countries where there is a "culture" of data collection and at least some limited computer processing the implementation of the software is smooth and results are achieved very quickly.
The main problems experienced in implementation have been:
INTRODUCING TADINFO IN GHANA
The search for an appropriate decision support system for the Veterinary Services Department might have started way back in the 1930s when the colonial veterinary service was organized in what was then Gold Coast. I saw evidence of this when I first began to computerize the compiled national veterinary activities in 1991. There were notebooks containing even a 1930 summary of major veterinary activities carried out by the various regional veterinary sections. The summaries of yearly scheduled diseases, vaccination, deworming and spraying, movement and slaughter, export and import records in the notebooks served as the decision support system for the directorate.
Under the National Livestock Services Project, a database system was organized with assistance from a consultancy company for the major veterinary activities in Ghana. The main limitation of the programme was that it had no geographical information component. The introduction of the TADinfo programme has resolved this. Our data can be visualized on a simple geographical information system. Risk assessment and disease management can easily be visualized by the decision-maker and, more important, by the politician.
TADinfo, apart from being free, is to some extent easy to use. A two-week tutorial workshop (2-6 August 1999 and 31 January - 4 February 2000) with Dr Roger Paskin of FAO, Rome has been enough to allow me to prepare maps on ASF outbreak areas in Ghana. I have also started preparing maps on last year's scheduled diseases outbreaks for the annual report of the Veterinary Services.
This year, Ghana will be part of the Pan African Control of Epizootics (PACE) project where epidemio-surveillance of some transboundary diseases such as rinderpest and contagious bovine pleuropneumonia is a vital component. The TADinfo Disease Observation Module will help me analyse active surveillance data while the Disease Survey Module is my panacea to PACE serological surveillance.
Linking the laboratory data with the field data was a problem in our previous database. It was difficult to distinguish laboratory-confirmed cases from clinical and suspected cases. The option "best available diagnosis available" in TADinfo has solved this! The brief exposure to TADinfo has convinced me that the programme when fully completed would be the practising epidemiologist's main tool.
Epidemiology Unit, Veterinary Services Department, Accra, Ghana