17 September 2015 - The Regional Animal Health Networks (RAHN) in Eastern Africa comprise the Chief Veterinary Officer’s Network, the epidemiology (EAREN) and laboratory(EARLN) networks, as well as FMD and African Swine fever sub-networks. The 6th joint annual technical meeting of the RAHN brought together the Chief Veterinary Officers (CVOs) as well as the focal points of the EAREN and EARLN, the coordinator of the two sub-networs from 11 countries namely Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. The meeting was held in Kampala, Uganda, from the 7th to 9th September 2015, back-to-back with the first eastern Africa region roadmap workshop for the control and eradication of Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR) which was held from the 10th to 11th September 2015. The opening ceremony of the meeting was chaired by Dr. Anna Rose Ademun Okorut on behalf of the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Industry of Uganda. Other institutions/organisations that took part in the opening ceremony included FAO, the Inter African Bureau for Animal Resources of the African Union (AU-IBAR), Pan-African Veterinary Vaccine Centre of African Union (AU-PANVAC), World Organisation for animal health (OIE), and two Regional Economic Communities: Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and East Africa Community (EAC).
The meeting was attended by sixty eight participants that included in addition to the above mentioned representatives from USAID, EPT2 implementing partners (PREDICT2; Preparedness and Response, One Health Workforce/ One Health in East and Central Africa (OHCEA ), CDC, ILRI, Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI). FAO participants included EMPRES- Rome, FAO-Sub Regional office for eastern Africa – SFE-Addis Ababa, FAO Kenya and ECTAD Nairobi.
During the three-day meeting, participants discussed the animal disease situation across the region and explored ways to best use the RAHN network setting in regional management of priority transboundary animal diseases, emerging and re-emerging diseases and antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Break-out sessions in three sub groups (i.e. CVOs network, EAREN and EARLN) enabled each participating country and sub-network to present activities undertaken during the previous one year. The priority diseases, information sharing amongst the countries, the sub-networks and progress on the work plan were exhaustively discussed. The challenges and constrains faced in the implementing disease information sharing, surveillance and laboratory diagnostic activities over the past year were also discussed.
Review of the performance and activities of the EA RAHN demonstrated that progress has been made over the last year. Key achievements include:
- Launch of the ASF Working Group during a meeting held in January 2015 in Dar es Salaam;
- Updated FMD Roadmap for eastern Africa during a workshop held in October 2014 in Kigali;
- Different cross border meetings organized between Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan, Uganda;
- Assessment of policy, strategy and legal framework gaps in three countries.
The meeting prioritised four key diseases (PPR, RVF, FMD and ASF) for regional attention and agreed on following activities:
- IGAD to take necessary action to coordinate and anchor the RAHN with support of EAC and FAO;
- ASF sub network to finalise the regional strategy by December 2015;
- Establish PPR sub network as recommended by the Global Control and Eradication strategy (GCES);
- Considering the high chances of RVF occurrence in the near future based on climatic predictions, urgent development and or update of the existing Contingency plans.
Other recommendations were on:
- Strengthening of existing sub networks (ASF and FMD) and establishing new ones (Rabies, CCPP and PPR) with support of technical partners;
- Addressing the weak disease reporting and information sharing amongst the countries coordinated by the RAHN through structured and regular reporting and defined channels of communication;
- The need for the Regional Support Laboratory to develop an action plan to guide its support activities to other countries;
- Mapping of on-going projects and programmes to avoid duplication;
- Conducting AMR surveillance activities along the value chains and development of a mitigation strategy be prioritised;
- Mapping and documenting OH activities in the region;
- Developing national policies, strategies and legislations that rationalize veterinary services into public or private services and those that need Private Public Partnership (PPP) .
The meeting commends FAO, USAID, EPT2 partners, CDC and IGAD for the updates provided regarding emerging diseases such MERS CoV, Ebola and other VHFs. The meeting recommends full cooperation and involvement of target countries during the implementation of the planned projects.
The meeting represented a unique forum for active and transparent participatory and exhaustive deliberations information sharing and decision making on key and priority animal health issues in the eastern Africa region.