Strengthening the capacity of Veterinary Services to protect and develop animal resources is one of the goals of the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH, founded as OIE). This contributes to the global reduction of poverty and hunger through sustainable livestock production. To address animal health challenges calls for a well-trained, skilled and appropriately distributed human workforce.
The primary objective of the EBO-SURSY project is to improve surveillance systems for a group of diseases called viral haemorrhagic fevers. Funded by the European Union, and implemented by WOAH, the French Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD), the International cooperation in agricultural research for development (CIRAD) and the Institut Pasteur, the 7–year project counts on a wide range of expertise from its partners to ensure One Health implementation in recognising the connections between environmental and wildlife health, animal and human health. In so doing, the project reinforces the capacity of health professionals, increasing awareness of local communities about the risks of zoonoses (diseases transmitted from animals to humans), and reinforcing protocols of surveillance and outbreak preparedness through multiscale scientific investigation in wild and domestic animals and their environment.
The “Professionalisation of veterinary paraprofessionals”(P3V) project is working to improve access to quality veterinary services for livestock farmers in Francophone Africa. WOAH is working with the Inter-State School of Veterinary Sciences and Medicine (Ecole Inter-Etats des Sciences et Médecine Vétérinaires, EISMV) of Dakar and other partners (training institutions for veterinary paraprofessionals, veterinary services, Veterinary Statutory Body, non-government organisations, etc.) in Senegal and Togo, the pilot countries.
All pictures (c) L. D. Dahourou (woah) 2022
Both projects focus on strengthening the capacities and skills of animal health professionals: Veterinary Services and key stakeholders of One Health for EBO-SURSY and strengthening the skills of educators, veterinary services staff and veterinary paraprofessionals (VPPs) for P3V.
Building on these synergies, P3V and EBO-SURSY teams have joined forces to organise a Training of Trainers to strengthen the capacities of veterinary professionals and paraprofessionals in disease surveillance at the wildlife/domestic animal/human/environment interface using the new “serious game” ALERT, which was designed to encourage a One Health approach in conducting surveillance activities. The three-day training took place from 19 – 21 October 2022 in Dakar, Senegal, and was attended by 18 participants (including 14 men and 4 women) from France, Guinea, Mali, Senegal and Togo.
A participant at the train the trainers event for the ALERT board game
The participants who benefited from this training were from veterinary and veterinary paraprofessional training schools, national parks and the private sector. In turn, these newly trained facilitators initiated 40 students from the veterinary school of Dakar (EISMV) to the ALERT game. With this, the aim is to promote active dissemination of the game using ALERT during their professional practice, thereby building capacity at national level.
In addition, the P3V project coordinated training for veterinarians by experts of the Dakar veterinary school (EISMV). Four private clinical veterinarians from Senegal and Togo, who also participated in the ALERT game training, participated in a five-day Training of Trainers to improve their competencies in teaching animal disease diagnostics, control and treatment from 24 to 28 October.
During this session, topics including behaviour and welfare assessment, animal restraint, biosecurity and biosafety during veterinary care, animal clinical examination, sample collection and transfer to laboratory, main animal diseases, disease treatment and basic surgery in the West Africa region.
A participant at the first training.
These trainings have equipped participants with the know-how to improve practices in the field and further train veterinary paraprofessionals (VPPs) on animal disease management. They can also now use innovative tools like the ALERT game, to better engage with VPPs and other surveillance stakeholders in the One Health domain while training them on animal health care and management.
Regarding the second training, participants stated that “this training has reinforced our theoretical and practical knowledge of the health problems that we encounter daily with farmers” and were sufficiently equipped to implement the trainings in their respective countries.
The next steps are focused on outreach, with country-level trainings for animal health professionals to be delivered in Senegal and Togo in December 2022, while ALERT game facilitators will use the tool to teach students at the Dakar Veterinary School (EISMV), raise awareness of local communities living nearby national parks to better engage in early warning systems and provide another perspective to animal health paraprofessional about the role they can play in epidemiologic surveillance in wildlife.