10 September 2015 - The second technical meeting of the Animal Health Networks brought together the Chief Veterinary Officers (CVOs) as well as the focal points of the laboratory (RESOLAB) and epidemio-surveillance (RESEPI) networks in Central Africa sub-region. The meeting was held in Yaoundé, Cameroon, from 26 to 28 August 2015, back-to-back with the Central Africa sub-region roadmap workshop for the control and eradication of Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR) (24-25 August). The joint opening ceremony of the two meetings was chaired by Dr. Taiga, Minister of Livestock, Fisheries and Animal Industries (MINEPIA) of Cameroon, in the presence of Mr. Mai Moussa Abari, FAO Representative in Cameroon and representatives of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), the Inter African Bureau for Animal Resources of the African Union (AU-IBAR) and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).
The meeting was attended by about fifty participants, including Chief Veterinary Officers, RESEPI and RESOLAB national focal points from Cameroon, Chad, Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Central African Republic (CAR), Democratic Republic of Congo and Sao Tome and Principe. Other participants included animal health experts from AU-PANVAC, the OIE/FAO international laboratory reference on Animal Influenza, Newcastle and rabies (IZSVe) (Padova, Italy), the Inter-States School of Veterinary Sciences and Medicine of Dakar (EISMV), the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the University of Ngaoundere (Cameroon), representatives of the second phase of the USAID Emerging Pandemic Threats (EPT-2) programme (Preparedness and Response/P&R and PREDICT-2 projects) and FAO (EMPRES/Rome, ECTAD West Africa and Central /Bamako and SFC/Libreville, Gabon).
During this three-day meeting, participants discussed the animal disease situation across the region and ways to best use the RESEPI/RESOLAB-AC network setting in preventing and controlling endemic and emerging diseases regionally. A poster session enabled each country to present their national situation along with results obtained and constraints encountered in implementing disease reporting, surveillance and laboratory diagnostic activities over the past year. To improve the national situation, participants urged technical partners to intensify their efforts in strengthening capacities of national epidemiology and laboratory systems through continuous training of human resources, provision of appropriate tools and standardized methodology. Action for inter-operability of existing reporting and data management platforms (OIE/WAHID, AU-IBAR/ARIS) was highly recommended while a great interest was expressed by several countries to acquire the FAO EMPRES-i/EMA-i system.
The meeting also offered an excellent opportunity to review the legacy of the IDENTIFY project that enabled strengthening laboratory capacities in Central Africa and to present the next generation of the EPT (Emerging Pandemic Threat) programme and the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) programme. As a result, participants agreed to enrich the scope of work of the RESEPI/RESOLAB-AC networks with food safety and Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) activities. In this respect, FAO was requested to initiate AMR activities under the auspices of the regional networks for strengthening bacteriology and AMR surveillance capacities in a selection of bacterial families. The participants also agreed on the selection process of a Regional Support Laboratory in Central Africa to be facilitated by FAO, in order for this region to rely on a regional laboratory as in other regions in Africa. Finally the role of these RESOLAB and RESEPI networks in supporting the implementation of the PPR eradication and control strategy in the region was emphasized.
These meetings represent a unique forum for discussion, information sharing and decision making on animal health issues in the region. Appreciation for this regular forum was confirmed by all participants through a satisfaction evaluation.
The participants agreed that the next RESEPI/RESOLAB-AC meeting will be held in 2016 in Brazzaville (Republic of Congo).