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Health News of Wednesday, 27 May 2009 Next Article West Africa Veterinary and Epidemiologists meet on zoonotic diseases

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  • Health News of Wednesday, 27 May 2009 Next Article West Africa Veterinary and Epidemiologists meet on zoonotic diseases


    Health News of Wednesday, 27 May 2009 Next Article
    West Africa Veterinary and Epidemiologists meet on zoonotic diseases

    Accra, May 27, GNA - Madam Salamatu Abdul-Salam, Chief Director of the Ministry of Health on Wednesday said the success in efforts to build capacity for African countries to deal with emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases depended on the political will of governments. She said adequate financing and a responsive capacity building based on a thorough situational analysis of the resources needed to address inequalities in health and gaps in both animal and human healthcare were also dependable areas for the success of the capacity. Speaking at the opening of a three-day international workshop for stakeholders in the promotion on Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Programmes (FELTP) in West Africa, the Chief Director said the government of Ghana was determined to commit some resources to assist the FELTP to control zoonotic diseases plaguing Africa.

    The workshop, organised by the African Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET) will among other things develop and update a five-year strategic plan to include the veterinary component to address core competence identified to strengthen surveillance, control and prevent diseases which threaten public health and food security in Africa. It will also develop a strategy to advocate for countries to invest in the training and placement of FELTP. The workshop on the theme, "Strengthening Africa's Response to Emerging Diseases through Partnership between Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Programmes and Veterinary Services" will share ideas, experiences and knowledge to enhance the needed networking and collaboration between veterinary and human health services in the fight against endemic zoonotic diseases. Participants are from Ghana, Nigeria, Togo, Benin, Burkina Faso, Senegal and Mali. Madam Abdul-Salam urged participants to include in the strategic plan a component that will build the capacity of trainees to conduct research. "Some of the data that are produced should be transformed into publishable manuscripts in peer reviewed journals to benefit a wider audience and inform policy at the national level and hopefully the international community".

    Dr. Anthony Akunzule, Principal Veterinary Officer of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture said as a result of globalization, climatic change, unstable food security and persistence poverty, the world was facing an unprecedented worldwide impact of emerging and re-emerging zoonotic and other Trans-boundary Animal Diseases (TADs) He said the African Field and Epidemiology and Laboratory Network was established in 2005 with an overall goal to strengthen capacity of countries in surveillance, outbreak investigation and response, and had been dedicated to helping Ministries of Health in Africa build a strong, effective and sustainable programme and capacity to improve public systems.

    Dr Akunzule called for the need to accelerate the preparedness of all African countries to meet the threat of pandemic such as the Avian Influenza and the recent Swine Influenza, which had increased the urgency in strengthening FELTPs in the area of training of multidisciplinary teams.

    World Health Organization Africa Region Representative, Dr. Florimond Tsioko Kweteminga said since September 1998 all countries have adopted a strategy for Integrated Disease Surveillance (IDS) that called for the implementation of this surveillance and response system at all levels of their health systems. This, he said, calls for synergistic intervention by animals and human health staff at all levels for Disease Surveillance and Response (DSR).

    He was of the view that combating communicable diseases depended on surveillance preventive measures and where appropriate outbreak investigation and institution of control measures. He said there was therefore the need to periodically assess surveillance and response systems, so that they continued to reflect national and regional priorities, improve efficiency and take advantage of new methods and techniques to strengthen surveillance. "Disease surveillance is food for field epidemiology and this triggers investigations based on evidence of suspected epidemics, treatment failures and abnormal mortality levels." This, he said was why WHO recommended that adequate time was given for integrated disease surveillance and response in the curricula of the African Field Epidemiolgy Network (AFFENET) programme. The IDSR guidelines and training modules were being revised to take into account the changing disease pattern occurring in the revised International Health Regulations as well as build the capacity in the region.