From theory to practice: training actors in the ‘One Health’ approach to strengthen epidemiological surveillance in West and Central Africa


From 14 to 26 October 2019, 26 students and professionals in human, animal and environmental health from nine countries in West and Central Africa took part in a high-level training course on the ‘One Health’ approach organized at the Guinea Infectiology Research and Training Center (CERFIG) and the Institut Pasteur of Guinea.

Combining animated sessions led by researchers from the three EBO-SURSY partner research institutes, including demonstrations and practical exercises, this unique training aimed to strengthen the expertise of those involved in the early detection of zoonotic diseases in wildlife.

Through a multidisciplinary approach focusing on the interactions between animals, humans and their environment, the training provided an opportunity for scientists to share their knowledge and field experiences. From the discovery of HIV strains in wild chimpanzee and gorilla populations in Cameroon, to the implementation of the ‘One Health’ approach in Guinea in a post-Ebola context, a wide variety of topics and contexts were covered by the speakers. The contributions of research for the control of Rift Valley fever or the role of rodents in the transmission of Lassa fever were, among other topics, were the subjects of steady discussions with the audience.

Throughout the eight days, participants also had the opportunity to explore the different key themes of epidemiological surveillance. From the laboratory to the field, they were given the opportunity to learn new diagnostic techniques using innovative technologies such as Luminex and MinION and were trained on how to capture and collect samples from wild bats. Drawing on their respective expertise, participants jointly conducted an investigation simulation similar to one conducted during a suspected outbreak in wildlife, and finally participants focused on the development of a regional practical guide for the surveillance of haemorrhagic zoonotic diseases. “It was a great experience to meet people from different parts of the world. I have learned a lot, and I hope to transfer this knowledge to my colleagues when I return home” shared a participant.

“By organizing this training, our ultimate objective is to enable West and Central African countries are better able to anticipate the emergence of viral diseases such as Ebola, and other less exceptional zoonotic diseases, but all of which are equally harmful to populations" explains Sophie Muset, Coordinator of the EBO-SURSY project at the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). "Thanks to the commitment of our scientific partners, it is a unique opportunity that has been offered to young professionals ready to take up the challenge" she adds.

The training ended with a round table moderated by Dr Sakoba Keita, President of the One Health Platform in Guinea, Dr Sény Mané, Director of Veterinary Services, Vice-President of the Platform, and Colonel Mamadou Sow of the Ministry of Environment.

This training was organized in partnership by the Institut Pasteur of Guinea, the Center for Research and Training in Infectiology of Guinea (CERFIG), the Gamal Abdel Nasser University of Conakry (UGANC), the National Institute of Public Health (INSP) and the Higher Institute of Science and Veterinary Medicine (ISSMV) with the financial support of the European Union through the EBO-SURSY project.

This project is implemented by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) with its scientific partners – the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD), the French National Research Institute for Development (IRD) and the Institut Pasteur.

Learn more about the EBO-SURSY Project.

Photos: ©OIE/Sophie Muset ©IRD/Nicole Vidal

Theoretical training on biosecurity measures- Person Protection Equipment ©OIE/Sophie Muset

Theoretical training on biosecurity measures- Person Protection Equipment ©OIE/Sophie Muset