FAO Ghana’s rapid response to African horse sickness thanks to EMA-i real-time reporting Tool

FAO Ghana’s rapid response to African horse sickness thanks to EMA-i real-time reporting Tool

26/08/2019

In Ghana, early and rapid reporting and notification of animal diseases in the field is a major challenge due to inadequate health workforce and capacities. To ensure a timely response, EMA-i (Event Mobile Application) technology has been adopted in the country from February 2019 in 20 districts with the participation of 30 trainees from the Veterinary Service Directorate (VSD). This adoption represented a significant reinforcement of the national epidemio-surveillance network. EMA-i launching was supported by FAO Ghana with provision of 30 smartphones and four desktop computers including internet connectivity for six months to VSD to implement the pilot phase of the EMA-i.

From its implementation, a total of 148 disease events have been reported by EMA-i in a three-month period (February-May 2019), which represents three times more the number reported the year before. FAO’s support to operationalize EMA-i tool in Ghana has been beneficial to the national Veterinary Services by not only ensuring transmission of health information from field to central level in real time, but also provided a breakthrough for the timely reporting of African horse sickness (AHS) outbreak that occurred in Accra Polo club on 12 of March 2019. Disease data was transmitted in real-time to the central level which was followed by a joint epid-lab investigation leading to the confirmation of AHS and subsequent notification to FAO and OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health). Other key stakeholders at national, regional and global levels were also notified. Appropriate control measures for the disease were applied at the very early stage of its occurrence thereby preventing further spread.

FAO's tool showcases how a multidisciplinary approach, involving human and animal health and the environment can enable a timely response including prevention and control of transboundary threats by facilitating information exchange.

How EMA-i works

Using Smartphones, animal disease information is collected and georeferenced with EMA-i app from the field. The app then generates a report that is sent in real-time to the Global Animal Disease Information System (EMPRES-i) database where the information is safely stored. The data are verified and validated, and the submitter of the information can be contacted if necessary. All reports are also accessible through a mapping component of EMA-i which permits to visualize the location and epidemiological details of a disease event from the field (“near me”). An early warning e-mail notification system is also in place for informing decision makers on a disease event.