African vets tackle infectious animal diseases through UN program

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© UN Food and Agriculture Organization
© UN Food and Agriculture Organization

A Texas university has teamed up with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) for a training program on infectious animal diseases for veterinarians from African countries.

Some 180 veterinarians drawn from 14 African countries will benefit from In-Service Applied Veterinary Epidemiology, or ISAVET, a training program launched by the FAO, UN and the Institute for Infectious Animal Diseases, part of Texas A&M AgriLife Research.

The countries involved include Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Uganda, where working horses, mules, donkeys and oxen are invaluable to their owners.

Training will be held over the next 12 months and will operate within an approach involving public, animal and wildlife health as well as for pathogens that cross institutional mandates and geographic boundaries.

About 60 trainees will graduate from the program this year, an additional 120 trainees are expected to graduate in 2019.

FAO’s Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases and the Institute for Infectious Animal Diseases, or IIAD, will lead the development and implementation of the curriculum, in collaboration with the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and work closely with public health and local partners.

“This in-service training for veterinary epidemiologists is a good model for future sustainability as once we have built in the momentum together, it can be led and expanded by local and continental veterinary institutions,” said Juan Lubroth, chief veterinary officer FAO.

“What is important here is that it is based on practical, applied issues relevant to the country, where one ‘learns by doing.”

The project also will develop a network of trainers and mentors from Africa. Frontline veterinary field epidemiologists are responsible for conducting effective and timely surveillance and outbreak response for endemic and emerging infectious diseases, as well as transboundary animal diseases.

The frontline In-Service Applied Veterinary Epidemiology initiative in Africa follows a similar initiative started 10 years ago in Asia, which now has established training centers in Thailand, China and Indonesia.

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