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Photo: @FAO/Aïssatou Vamoulke

ISAVET in Africa: Cameroon forms the first cohort of national veterinary professionals in field epidemiology


An evaluation by the Cameroon Animal Disease Epidemiology Surveillance Network (RESCAM), carried out in 2018, revealed a strong need for field veterinary epidemiology capacity to support animal health services at local, regional and national levels. This comes at a time when health issues throughout the world are being impacted by the resurgence of human and animal diseases. In 2018, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), in collaboration with the Institute of Infectious Animal Diseases (IIAD) of the University of Texas A&M, launched the frontline In-Service Applied Veterinary Epidemiology Training (ISAVET) programme. This support is part of the fight against endemic diseases, emerging infectious diseases and transboundary animal diseases in 14 countries in West, Central and East Africa.

Cameroon: a pioneer in the implementation of the ISAVET programme at local level

Cameroon has just successfully completed the training of its first cohort of ISAVET trainees, which comprised 25 animal health professionals. These trainees come from government services, notably from the ministries of livestock and wildlife, as well as from the private veterinary sector in the Far North, North, East and Adamawa regions. The zootechnical and veterinary training centre in Maroua, in the Far North region, hosted this training course, which lasted almost a month (from 28 September to 24 October 2020). The theoretical part of the course was given over three weeks by six trainers and the practical part during one week by a group of five mentors, who supervised the practical work on farm-level biosecurity measures as well as techniques for collecting, packaging and transporting samples to the laboratory.

At the end of the training, the participants expressed their satisfaction with this first training experience in Cameroon. Serge Santing, the delegate for the Lomié district for the Ministry of Livestock, Fisheries and Animal Industries, in the East Cameroon region, stated that: "This course specifically addresses the problem of epidemiological surveillance in the field because the modules followed here will enable me, at my work station, to quickly detect animal diseases in order to better control them and prevent their spread in our livestock." Bienvenue Madama, Head of the Veterinary Section in Batouri, Kadey Department, stated that: "I now understand the importance of disease reporting, particularly how to manage crisis situations. We went through practical phases with a visit to a farm where we were exposed to the preparation of sample kits and the division of the zones before the inspection."

ISAVET promotes the strengthening of national competences

ISAVET implementation has already supported the training of five national trainers and five mentors from Cameroon during two regional training workshops held in Douala in December 2019. These national trainers and mentors have been fundamental to the implementation of this first training in Cameroon. Over the next three months, the  25 trainees will continue with the practical component of the training, under the supervision of their mentors. They are expected to collect field data and submit technical reports, which will be presented and defended during a post-training ISAVET workshop.

With funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the Global Health Security Programme (GHSA), FAO is helping to strengthen the national animal disease surveillance system in Cameroon. The aim of this first training package was to strengthen the capacities of the ministry responsible for animal health by training frontline animal health professionals in field veterinary epidemiology. Participants were provided with training on the preparation of field work, early detection, rapid and effective interventions in the event of transboundary animal disease outbreaks, emerging infectious diseases and antimicrobial resistance in an integrated One Health approach. The training of a second cohort is planned for 2021 and will bring together animal health professionals from the six other regions of Cameroon (Littoral, Centre, South, West, North-West and South-West).


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