Improving Epidemiological Surveillance of Priority Transboundary Animal Diseases
Monday, 16 January, 2023 - 16:15

Animal diseases are mainly transboundary nature due to the movement of animals between neighbouring Member States that may result in transmission and spread to areas hitherto free of such diseases making them endemic in nature and difficult to control and eradicate.

Surveillance of these diseases involves the collection, compilation, and analysis of data in a systematic manner, as well as the timely dissemination of information for appropriate action. It provides evidence to show the absence, presence or spread of diseases, or the detection of emerging or re-emerging diseases.

Thus, improving surveillance of diseases requires an evaluation that identifies gaps and limitations to proper functioning of surveillance networks. Such limitations are mostly related to the inadequate human and financial resources. Therefore, in recent years, new approaches have been proposed to optimise surveillance in human and animal health.

Approaches include involvement of grassroots actors in the surveillance system such as livestock keepers and their communities, as well as community animal health workers to improve timely disease detection that triggers an early warning system. However, this approach requires effective awareness creation and capacity building of the actors to recognise the symptoms of targeted diseases.

To ensure efficient surveillance systems in Member States, RAHC, in collaboration with FAO-ECTAD, embarked on capacity building of veterinary epidemiologists in the RESEPI Networks to strengthen the veterinary services of Member States in the field of qualitative risk analysis and mapping. The use of this tool requires availability of reliable epidemiological data on transboundary animal diseases and animal mobility.

Thus, RAHC supports the regional veterinary epidemiological surveillance (RESEPI) and laboratory (RESOLAB) networks in the collection, validation, analysis, and dissemination of epidemiological information. Therefore, the 8th Regional animal health network (RAHN) meeting recently held in Praia, Cabo Verde, recommended regional harmonisation of data collection tools and operationalization of a regional animal health information system, a process in which RAHC is already engaged.

RAHC further encourages capacity building for veterinary epidemiologists to equip them with the necessary skills to investigate and appropriately manage diseases in the field.