TADinfo is a GIS-based database package with an easy-to-understand
user interface and a query interface designed to produce simple analyses
(tables and maps) as an aid to disease management. It is able to store disease
outbreak (passive surveillance) data, disease survey data, abattoir, vaccination
and livestock census data.
As part of the regional Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP) project aimed at containing, managing and, where possible, eradicating African swine fever (ASF) in West Africa (TCP/RAF/7822), a one-week workshop was held recently for epidemiologists in the region to give guidance on disease surveillance and to introduce FAO's new TADinfo software. The workshop was held in Accra, Ghana from 3 to 8 August 1999. Representatives from eight countries attended. The delegates compared notes about surveillance in their own countries, and issues relating to surveillance management and innovations in surveillance were discussed.
TADinfo was introduced to the national epidemiologists from the region who had the opportunity to gain "hands-on" experience in using the software. The response to TADinfo as it has been developed so far was very favourable. Even participants with little computer experience were soon able to use the software effectively.
TADinfo is a GIS-based database package with an easy-to-understand user interface and a query interface designed to produce simple analyses (tables and maps) as an aid to disease management. It is able to store disease outbreak (passive surveillance) data, disease survey data and abattoir, vaccination and livestock census data. It is currently based in MS Access 97, with mapping supported by ArcView; it is hoped that by the end of 2000 a standalone version with its own map viewer will be available.
TADinfo is already deployed in six countries in Africa, with formal requests received from the Chief Veterinary Officers (CVOs) of a further five. Twenty-two of the 29 RADISCON countries (North Africa and the Near East) have committed themselves to using TADinfo, and the Pan African Programme for the Control of Epizootics (PACE) is moving in the same direction. TADinfo demonstration versions are in place (for evaluation purposes) in seven more epidemiology units across Africa and Asia, and inquiries about it have been received from Asia, South America, the Balkan countries and Central Europe.
The French research/development organization, the International Cooperation Centre on Agrarian Research for Development (CIRAD) has agreed to translate TADinfo into French and provide support for the deployment of the French version of TADinfo. The Pan-American Foot-and-Mouth Disease Center, PANAFTOSA, will be cooperating with FAO to produce a specialized software package in Spanish (based on the Web/GIS template being developed for regional TADinfo) to meet the needs of vesicular disease management and eradication in South America.
TADinfo, being GIS-based, has to be customized with country geographic data before it can be put into use. This customizing is done at FAO, but requires at least the correct names of the first and second levels of administrative divisions within the country (e.g. provinces and districts) and the corresponding ArcView shape files for these administrative divisions (these are polygon files used to create maps for TADinfo's mapping component, and have the file extensions *.shp, *.shx and *.dbf). FAO has these data for some countries, but they are mostly outdated. These files are usually generated by ministries of transport or university departments of geography - and would be essential in order to prepare a country-customized version of TADinfo.
An official request, addressed to the Director of FAO's Animal Protection and Health Division (AGA) in Rome from the country's CVO, should be accompanied by the shape files and their correctly spelled names in electronic format.
A demonstration version of TADinfo (without mapping capabilities) is available on request from Dr Roger Paskin at FAO (AGAH) or by e-mail: email@example.com
Currently, TADinfo is developed with six submodules. The module active in the current version is intended for input of disease outbreak reports, and details of each outbreak (date, place, species, number affected, clinical signs, post-mortem lesions, tentative diagnosis, laboratory samples, final diagnosis, action taken) can be entered. Although the underlying database structure cannot be changed, details such as place names, clinical signs, species and diseases can all be customized in-country to suit the needs of the national system.
An easy-to-use query interface enables the generation of tables, smart printed reports and maps.
Other modules which are under development and partially active are for the input of disease surveys (e.g. serosurveillance, blood smear campaigns, etc.), abattoir reports (lesions seen and diagnoses made at abattoirs or slaughter slabs), vaccination campaigns and livestock census. The sixth module is the configuration module which allows for in-country customizing (animal species, diseases, etc.). TADinfo is delivered with the ability to store data for all OIE list A diseases in most domestic livestock species - but other diseases and species can be added via the customizing/configuration interface.
A number of veterinarians have been exposed to TADinfo either through workshops held in recent months, or as "full-time" users. Some comments received are:
"What I like most in TADinfo is ... it is all-in-one ... at last, it is possible to access all raw data, analysed information, reports and mapped events. It does not demand editing spelling mistakes, for example, names of places, because such information is corrected and stored permanently. Very little writing is required while entering new information/data." (Tanzania)
"The Director and staff were very happy with TADinfo." (Cape Verde)
"Can you help me by telling me the steps I have to follow to install TADinfo? I would like to train myself and my colleagues too." (Senegal)
TADinfo is beginning to make its mark as an aid to epidemiological decision-making. Users are invited to get involved in the development of the programme by reporting bugs and suggesting improvements. Remember, this is your software! Contact us by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org.