FAO in Ghana

Ghana Strengthens Disease Mapping for Animal Health Surveillance

GIS training in Accra @FAO/David Youngs

Using insights on data on the dynamics and patterns of animal disease 

Data on mapping disease and risk factor are substantial to allow veterinary and public health services to understand the patterns of disease spread and can provide efficient response to disease emergencies.

These were the findings in a recent event focusing on the use of Geographic Information System (GIS), which allows the veterinary and public health services to understand better the dynamics and patterns of disease emergence. The meeting organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) trained 19 staff from national and district veterinary, public health services and experts involved in the collection, management, analysis, and reporting of epidemiological data on GIS. The training enabled participants to perform basic mapping, spatial analysis and data visualization of animal disease outbreaks and related risk factors.

Jocelyn Brown Hall, Deputy Regional Representative for FAO Regional Office for Africa, stated, “According to a recent evaluation, most African countries have limited capacity to perform disease mapping with the GIS tool. This FAO training will support Ghana in equipping the country with enhanced surveillance capacity against animal diseases to safeguard livelihoods.”

Representing the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Helena Acquah added, “GIS is now a very important tool used in analysis of data on animal resource information. Moreover, by having participants from multiple sectors, this training demonstrates a true One Health spirit in the disease control and management plan in Ghana.”

GIS and epidemiological data

In order to understand and plan for increasing rates of changes in epidemiological data, infrastructure and socio-economic spatial patterns, FAO is promoting the use of GIS to access and use the range of relevant information available in the existing surveillance systems for prioritized zoonoses.

The GIS training provided lessons on spatial analysis and risk mapping to monitor animal population, with the end goal being to survey and control diseases as the animals move. Participants also recommended ideas on how to prepare, clean and format data to maximize visualization and mapping tools, using open-source GIS tools. The examples for the training exercise came from Ghana’s own surveillance data on priority zoonotic diseases such as avian influenza or Rift Valley fever.

FAO efforts to safeguard Ghana from infectious diseases

For over a decade, the FAO and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) have been working together to keep the world safe from infectious diseases. Currently, this cooperation is represented by two key programmes; the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) and the Emerging Pandemic Threats Programme (EPT2).

Building and enhancing the epidemiology capacity of the animal health sector and strengthening existing surveillance systems for prioritized zoonoses are the goals of the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) and are key indicators for the GHSA Action Packages for Zoonotic Diseases and Workforce Development. To strengthen this area of work, FAO has been organizing and implementing multiple capacity development activities, including trainings on value chain analysis, risk assessment, among others.