FAO in Tanzania

Tanzania first in Africa to pilot joint zoonotic risk assessment tool


Tanzania is the first country in Africa to pilot the joint risk assessment (JRA), a tool developed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and World Health Organization (WHO) for assessing zoonotic threats.

JRA supports inter-sectoral risk assessment for zoonotic threats at the animal-human-environmental interface and is expected to be a major boost to Tanzania’s efforts in assessing and addressing various risks associated with priority zoonotic diseases.  

A milestone

Speaking recently during a JRA piloting workshop in Dar es Salaam, the Director of the Disaster Management Department at the Prime Minister’s Office, Col. Matamwe Jimmy Said, said that the JRA tool and training to local experts was a milestone for controlling zoonotic diseases in the country through a One Health approach. 

“It is good to see that Tanzania is the first country to pilot the tool and receive this training. This will strengthen our capacity to undertake joint risk assessment for zoonotic threats using a One Health approach,” he said.

He urged the participants to make maximum use of the opportunity so that they could pass it on to other experts for a scaled response.

The workshop brought together experts from veterinary services, public health, environment, wildlife authorities and academia and was funded by the United States Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) and conducted with technical support from FAO and WHO.

Risks assessment 

During the meeting participants assessed relevant risks arising from rabies and anthrax, which are endemic in Tanzania, as well as zoonotic avian influenza, a threat which is circulating in other African countries and may be introduced via trade, cross-border movement or through wild bird migration.

One of the participants, Prof. Esron Karimuribo from Sokoine University of Agriculture commended the efforts. “This tool provides an excellent opportunity for all of us to meet and share data, and I hope we can meet on a regular basis from now on to assess risks arising from zoonotic diseases together.” He said.

On his side, the National Coordinator for the One Health Coordination Desk (OHCD) in Prime Minister’s Office, Mr. Harrison Chinyuka, said that the tool will facilitate operationalization of the One Health approach. “We always talk about operationalizing One Health,” he said adding “But this has been quite challenging in practice. Thanks to this tool as we can now put the One Health concept into action and generate relevant recommendations on interventions that are agreed upon by all sectors involved.”

He pledged to put up JRA as a routine One Health activity which will include the setting up of inter-sectoral technical teams with expertise on specific hazards, establishing a common information repository under the OHCD, where data and information on the priority diseases as well as JRA reports can be easily accessed by all sectors.