FAO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean

FAO launches online course for the Caribbean on African swine fever (ASF)

Training is intended for veterinarians and veterinary paraprofessionals involved in diagnosing, investigating and responding to an outbreak of ASF.

Photo: ©FAO/ Sadewa

28 June 2022

African swine fever (ASF) is an infectious viral haemorrhagic disease responsible for massive losses in pig populations. ASF has become a major crisis for the pig production system leading to drastic economic impacts, trade disruptions and challenges to the livelihoods of pork producers, small-scale farmers and other actors in the supply chain, and thus threatens food supplies. The disease currently affects several regions of the world, and with costly control measures and no effective vaccine, ASF not only hinders the health and welfare of animals, but also adversely affects biodiversity.

By incorporating the vision of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) for digital innovation to prevent and control this detrimental disease, FAO Virtual Learning Centers (VLCs) in collaboration with the Caribbean Animal Health Network (CaribVET), have launched an online training course on ASF preparedness for the Caribbean, which combines convenient,  self-paced study with a unique opportunity to discuss and network with international and national experts. This training is intended for public and private veterinarians and veterinary paraprofessionals who are directly involved in diagnosing, investigating and responding to an outbreak of ASF. However, the course is also suitable for swine-industry personnel who are engaged in response activities.

This course was initially developed by the FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia, and will be delivered under the Global Framework for the Progressive Control of Transboundary Animal Diseases (GF-TADs). The overall objective of the course is to educate veterinarians and veterinary paraprofessionals of the Caribbean countries in order to enableearly warning, risk reduction, and management of ASFoutbreaks through building knowledge and skills in the detection of, prevention of and response to disease outbreaks.

The impact of the course will support the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by reducing the socioeconomic and public health impact of ASF, securing livelihoods, improvingfood security and food safety, and increasing productivity in the pork sector.

The course

The course is conducted entirely online, will take approximately 15 hours to complete, and will run for four weeks. [GM(1] Up to 300 participants fromthe Caribbean can attend the course simultaneously. The course starts on 28 June 2022 with an interactive webinar, where participants meet with their trainers, and learn about the course and the ASF situation in the region. The trainees will then learn through seven interactive online modules, covering the impact and importance of ASF, epidemiology, pathogenesis and clinical diagnosis, laboratory diagnosis, outbreak investigation, prevention, surveillance, control, etc. This interactive course is enriched with audiovisual materials and self-assessment questions. During the course, expert trainers will be available through a discussion forum to answer questions from the trainees and to lead interactive discussions.

A specific topic is covered during each week of the four-week programme, using a discussion forum. Trainers post questions to challenge participants and deepen their understanding of the course materials. The course ends with a final assessment and a closing webinar covering topics that were difficult for participants or sparked the most discussion in the forum. Participants who complete the coursework with a satisfactory comprehensive assessment are awarded a certificate.

About the FAO VLCs

The FAO VLCs are virtual hubs that have been conceived as a mechanism to improve regional delivery of online training and to convey the competencies required to organize and deliver online training to FAO regional and subregional offices. Their mission is to provide trainees with access to inclusive, engaging, and high-quality training using a variety of methodologies such as online tutored courses, blended learning, technical webinars and mobile learning. Through the use of communication technology and instructional design, the VLCs develop courses that readily respond to regional needs and priorities and fill knowledge gaps identified in a variety of topics.

The FAO VLCs training model is sustainable, scalable and inclusive. It allows sizable and geographically disparate audiences to be trained in an interdisciplinary manner. Cascading training maximizes the efficiency of the entire training process and makes education accessible to youth, women and field experts in need of skills.

To date, VLCs have been established in all five FAO regions, delivering courses to trainees around the world. The courses are developed in close collaboration with FAO technical divisions, regional focal points and international experts.

“The decentralized approach of establishing VLCs in the regions ensures that training is tailored to the specific regional needs, and adapted to the local context and languages. FAO’s coordination of the different VLCs ensures that various courses and good practices can easily be shared across regions of the world,” said Keith Sumption, FAO Chief Veterinary Officer and Head of the Animal Health Programme.

FAO Public Policies Training Center for Latin America and the Caribbean (FAO Capacitación) has joined the VLCs network in 2021, as Virtual Learning Center for the region, producing several courses on Animal Health and Agroecology. Established in 2008, FAO Capacitación has provided training to more than 200.000 professionals and technicians from FAO and national governments, NGOs and academia. It offers self-paced courses, tutored courses and training formats tailored to the needs of FAO programmes and projects in the region.

The FAO VLCs’ work and impact help to deliver the SDGs, particularly SDG 1, 2 and 5, and conforms to its Hand-in-Hand Initiative and its Strategic Framework.