This article was written by Ekta Patel and edited by Paul Karaimu
In an effort to support animal disease surveillance in Uganda, Vétérinaires Sans Frontières (VSF) Germany in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), facilitated a five-day participatory disease surveillance training of 48 animal health experts in Uganda on 9-13 March 2020.
The training was an initiative of the Boosting Uganda’s Investment in Livestock Development (BUILD) program, which is working to improve animal health and the health of people who work directly with animals including farmers, animal product processors and consumers of animal-sourced foods. The training supported the existing conventional disease surveillance systems in Uganda (whereby farmers report clinical disease to local veterinary officers who then follow up) by reviewing participatory epidemiological methods with an emphasis on participatory epidemiology and disease surveillance.
It equipped participants with skills, tools and techniques for managing peste des petites ruminants (PPR) or goat plague and Rift Valley fever (RVF), two key livestock diseases in Uganda, particularly in the rural areas. For example, the use of proportional piling which is a semi- quantitative technique that allows farmers to assign a score to a number of different items or categories in an assigned community was used to better understand disease morbidity and mortality in a given community.
The 48 participants included 36 animal health practitioners from 12 districts in Uganda, 3 MAAIF staff members, 3 VSF staff members, 4 PhD students and 1 MSc fellow from Makerere University, and 1 staff member from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Anna Rose Ademun, Uganda’s chief veterinary officer, who was the chief guest at the training, emphasized the socio-economic impact of the two diseases on the livelihoods of rural smallholder livestock farmers. She encouraged participants to work more diligently towards responding to animal diseases and PPR and RVF in particular. She thanked the BUILD program and VSF Germany for facilitating the training and reiterated the government’s commitment to developing the livestock sector.
Joshua Waiswa, project manager with VSF Germany and the lead trainer, said a five-day refresher training would be held for the participants, which will allow refinement of field simulations. Following the training, participants are expected to develop case studies on the assigned projects and engage in continuous training on disease outbreak investigation in an initiative supported by both VSF Germany and BUILD to ensure its sustainability.
ILRI’s Kristina Röesel, who leads the BUILD program, said the training was a great start towards increasing participatory animal disease surveillance capacity of local animal health practitioners in the country. ‘They will play a key role in helping to control animal diseases in rural communities where laboratory and other resources are limited. We hope to soon hold the refresher training course and expose the participants to on-the-job training in disease reporting and outbreak investigations under BUILD.’ Roesel added that the capacity development training will be expanded to other parts of the country.
The BUILD program is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and led by ILRI.
Read more about the BUILD program here
Additional information is available:
Reducing antimicrobial use in Uganda’s poultry value chain
Eradicating peste des petits ruminants in Uganda
Minimizing the risks of Rift Valley fever in Uganda