Some 180 veterinarians drawn from 14 African countries will benefit from a training programme, In-Service Applied Veterinary Epidemiology (ISAVET), launched by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations and the Institute for Infectious Animal Diseases (IIAD), 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.

The training will take place during 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.

Approximately 60 trainees will graduate from the training in 2018, the first of which was in October in Uganda. An additional 120 trainees are expected to graduate from the subsequent training in 2019.

FAO’s Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD) and IIAD will lead the development and implementation of the curriculum, in collaboration with the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM), working 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'”.

“We are pleased to take such an important supporting role in frontline defence of diseases that could impact both animals and humans internationally,” said Dr. Melissa Berquist, IIAD director.

The project will also 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 has now established training centres in Thailand, China, and Indonesia. – FAO