FAO in Ghana

FAO Leads National Effort to Strengthen Zoonotic Disease Surveillance in Ghana

Participants at the Surveillance Planning workshop

FAO facilitates the Validation Workshop for Surveillance Plans on Priority Zoonotic Diseases.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) through its Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD), in collaboration with the Veterinary Services Directorate (VSD) of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture Ghana, successfully conducted a national workshop from 14 to 16 May 2024 to validate the development of surveillance plans for three selected priority zoonotic diseases: anthrax, zoonotic tuberculosis, and trypanosomiasis. This workshop is a crucial step towards strengthening the field epidemiology surveillance in Ghana, aligning with the objectives of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) supported Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) programme.

Zoonotic diseases pose significant threats to both animal and human health, requiring robust surveillance protocols to identify, prevent, respond  and recovery from  potential outbreaks. In Ghana, the VSD has identified 28 priority scheduled diseases that need immediate reporting to international partners such as the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH), FAO, the African Union the InterAfrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The top six priority zoonotic diseases identified using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) One Health Zoonotic Disease Prioritization tool include anthrax, rabies, zoonotic influenza, zoonotic tuberculosis, viral haemorrhagic fevers, and trypanosomiasis. Despite the development of some preparedness and response plans, comprehensive surveillance plans for these diseases are lacking. 

The FAO Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD) in Ghana has been key in supporting the VSD in developing these essential surveillance plans. A significant milestone was achieved during a workshop in Koforidua from 26 to 30 May 2019, where initial plans for anthrax, zoonotic tuberculosis, and trypanosomiasis were drafted. Following confirmed outbreaks of anthrax in the Upper East Region in 2023, FAO facilitated the training of 338 staff in anthrax surveillance and response. Additionally, an After-Action Review (AAR) workshop on the anthrax outbreaks was conducted in September 2023, which highlighted the need for validated surveillance plans.

This validation workshop aimed to engage technical officers from various ministries, development partners, civil society, academia, and the private sector to provide inputs into the developed surveillance plans. Specific objectives included reviewing the current disease situations, presenting the draft surveillance plans for stakeholder feedback, and finalizing these plans for submission to the Chief Veterinary Officer of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture. The workshop brought together 60 participants from multiple sectors, including the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, civil society organizations, research institutions,  academia, and various development partners such as the World Health Organization (WHO), United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, and USAID.

The validation of the three surveillance plans was conducted through a plenary session, where the plans were projected and read through, allowing each participant to provide input. Three working groups, each focused on one of the diseases and comprised of experts, were formed. These working groups finalized the surveillance plans for submission.

The final validated surveillance plans for anthrax, zoonotic tuberculosis, and trypanosomiasis will be enhanced by the inputs from a wide range of stakeholders, ensuring they are robust and effective for implementation in Ghana's animal health sector.