FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia

FAO assesses Tajikistan’s capacity to detect and diagnose animal diseases

Animal health is an important issue in Central Asia, with livestock being a staple part of the economy. Tajikistan is not an exception either, where almost half of the population works in agriculture. Therefore, the ability to prevent, detect, and manage animal diseases is critical to for the sector’s growth, as well as for the intra-regional trade of livestock and related commodities.

As part of a new initiative to create a Central Asia Animal Health Network (CAAHN), FAO has embarked on assessing the surveillance and laboratory diagnostic capabilities of these countries. The evaluation has concluded already in Kyrgyzstan and recently in Tajikistan, while Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan are expected to follow later this year.

In Tajikistan, despite COVID-19 restrictions, FAO has managed to conduct two field missions to evaluate the country’s animal health surveillance system and diagnostic capacity. This was possible partly due to the support of Tajikistan’s government, which is currently undertaking a reform of the country's veterinary services. The teams identified gaps and provided recommendations with the ultimate aim to reduce animal health threats to livelihoods, food security, and public health in the country and beyond.

The two assessment missions in Tajikistan run in parallel using FAO’s Surveillance Evaluation Tool (SET), and Laboratory Mapping Tool.

“No country has unlimited resources; thus if deciding on allocating budget for improving animal health detection and diagnosis, an up-to-date and comprehensive status overview can point at the gaps and trigger improvements effectively,” said Daniel Beltran-Alcrudo, FAO animal health specialist. “There was a clear need for this.”

The Surveillance Evaluation Tool requires a series of interviews at national, subnational, and field level, with all actors of the early detection and prevention of animal diseases (such as livestock owners, public veterinarians, field veterinarians, veterinary association, public health, environment protection, and internal affairs representatives) to grade the surveillance system along 90  indicators. Legal frameworks, laboratory analyses, workforce, training, outbreak investigation, and operating procedures have been reviewed, too, for a detailed understanding of the structure, practices, and activities in place in the national and subnational surveillance systems. “All findings were assessed and discussed with the veterinary authorities,” explained Dinara Imanbayeva, SET evaluator. “A comprehensive report with the gaps and recommendations will be shared with the country soon.”

The Laboratory Mapping Tool allowed assessments of general laboratory capacities and capabilities, as well as antimicrobial resistance (AMR) testing capacities in Tajikistan, including strengths and gaps. Specific diagnostic aspects related to brucellosis and lumpy skin disease – diseases that are of priority – were assessed, the first being an endemic disease with important public health repercussions, and the second being an emerging disease threatening to enter the country. The assessed Tajik laboratories also received recommendations in the form of a targeted action plan that can be initiated at country level to achieve realistic goals.

5 May 2021, Dushanbe, Tajikistan