FAO Hosts Regional Workshop to Strengthen Veterinary Epidemiology Capacity in East and Southern Africa

FAO Hosts Regional Workshop to Strengthen Veterinary Epidemiology Capacity in East and Southern Africa
ISAVET National Coordinators from Eastern and Southen Africa and other stakeholders gather for a group photo at Entebbe Uganda, highlighting collaborative efforts in advancing veterinary epidemiology training. Photo/Courtesy

Representatives from ten countries across East and Southern Africa convened at a three-day workshop hosted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to bolster veterinary epidemiology capacity through the In-Service Applied Veterinary Epidemiology Training (ISAVET) program.

The workshop aimed to address crucial aspects of ISAVET implementation, successes, and strategies for sustainability.

The workshop, a collaborative initiative between FAO and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) under the Global Health Security Project (GHSP), underscored the importance of strengthening the animal health sector to prevent, detect, and respond to public health threats.

Dr. Antonio Querido, FAO Representative for Uganda, highlighted the pivotal role of veterinarians in safeguarding public health and commended the progress made in institutionalizing the One Health approach across the region.

“I have witnessed a lot of progress in One Health institutionalization and extension to reach wider publics, including the grassroots and those marginalized. It cannot be taken for granted that over 5000 animal health personnel in Uganda have been given specialized skills to handle zoonotic diseases (diseases that cross from humans to animals and vice versa) in the last 5 years, supported by FAO and other partners, he said”

Assumputa Bibaze from USAID emphasized the enduring partnership between FAO and USAID in enhancing animal health sectors. With over 100 trainees empowered by the ISAVET program in Uganda alone, the initiative has yielded inspiring success stories, contributing to the vision of strengthening the One Health strategy.

Dr. Peter Wanyama, Assistant Commissioner at Uganda's Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry & Fisheries, underscored the transformative impact of ISAVET on Uganda's veterinary sector.

"As Uganda, we have greatly benefitted from this initiative. With five cohorts trained in Uganda, our reporting capacity has improved, enabling us to respond effectively to diseases. I thank all the development partners who have enabled us to achieve this."

With improved reporting capacity and enhanced disease surveillance, Uganda has made significant strides in responding effectively to diseases, thanks to the support of development partners.

Dr. Sam Okuthe, the Regional Epidemiology Training Coordinator for Eastern and Southern Africa, highlighted ISAVET's achievements in training frontline workers to detect and respond to zoonotic diseases and transboundary animal diseases.

With nearly 500 frontline workers, trainers, and mentors trained across ten countries, ISAVET has bolstered disease surveillance and outbreak investigations, fostering multisectoral coordination and advancing the One Health approach.