WOAH strengthens the skills of veterinary paraprofessionals in West Africa


WOAH is the international reference organisation that supports national Veterinary Services in improving animal health and welfare. Among its missions, there is the support to national Veterinary Services in strengthening their capacity to prevent and control animal diseases, including zoonoses, and to ensure good animal welfare management. In this respect, WOAH is implementing a project entitled “Professionalisation of veterinary paraprofessionals (P3V)” since 2020. This project is funded by the French Development Agency – AFD – through two pilot projects, in Senegal and Togo, in West Africa. Its overall objective is to improve access to quality veterinary services for livestock farmers in French-speaking countries in Africa.

One of the project components focuses on capacity building, which includes initial training and continuous professional development (continuous training).

For initial training, the project works with five national training institutions for veterinary paraprofessionals (VPPs) in the two countries. With various stakeholders, the Organisation is working to revise training curriculae, and supports practical and clinical training in the institutions. The project also aims to develop the capacities of existing – practising – VPPs through continuous training. To achieve this, a study of training needs carried out by the project identified veterinary legislation and regulations, and good veterinary diagnostic and therapeutic practices as priority topics. For the implementation of these training courses and mainly to ensure their sustainability, two national trainers have been designated in each country by the respective WOAH Delegates. This will ensure the implementation of the training in their respective countries for each of these topics. For the topic focused on good veterinary diagnostic and therapeutic practices, the four trainers chosen by WOAH Delegates were trained in October 2022 at the Ecole Inter-Etats des Sciences et Médecine Vétérinaire de Dakar (EISMV), a project partner. This training enabled them to strengthen their skills on this topic and especially in andragogy to facilitate the implementation of the training.

Implementation of in-country training

The in-country trainings took place in November and December 2022. The training courses on good veterinary diagnostic and therapeutic practices were followed by the training on the serious game ALERT , developed by the EBO-SURSY project. The ALERT game is an important pedagogical tool related to integrated epidemiological surveillance. In each country, the training on good veterinary diagnostic and therapeutic practices lasted for 5 days and training on the ALERT game 2 days. A total of 58 participants including 15 women (26%) attended the workshops. The participants were veterinary paraprofessionals (40). For the training on the ALERT game, lecturers from training institutions (7), animal health (5), health (2) and environment (4) professionals were invited. For the topic on good veterinary diagnostic and therapeutic practices, the following modules were developed: animal welfare and behavior, domestic animals handling and restraining techniques, biosecurity and biosafety, clinical examination of domestic animals, good sampling practices and complementary exams, poultry necropsy, therapeutic techniques in animals, minor veterinary surgery.

Regarding the ALERT game, integrated surveillance and the mechanics of the game were the main points covered.

The training on veterinary regulations and legislation lasted for 5 days in each country and involved 41 animal health professionals (30 VPPs and 11 veterinarians) including 19 women (46.3%). Various topics were covered, including regional and international organizations working in the veterinary field, veterinary ethics, national, regional, and international standards, and regulations in the veterinary field, WOAH’s Veterinary Legislation Support Programme (VLSP), etc. All these training sessions combined theoretical sessions, group work and practical work in the field.


Participants during the training. All pictures (c) L. D. Dahourou (woah) 2022

Impact of the training 

Participants felt that trainings had improved their technical capacity in each topic. They all agreed that the training will add value to their daily work in the field and the score for the impact of the training on their professional activities was 3.5 out of 4. Regarding the ALERT game, lecturers in the schools were particularly interested in using the ALERT game as a teaching tool for courses focused on epidemiology and animal diseases surveillance.

I have been working in the field for 15 years and it is because of this training that I learnt that I was doing a lot of things quite badly.

A participant speaking about his experiences on good practices in veterinary diagnosis and treatment.

Next steps

Because of the importance of the training, all the participants as well as the trainers expressed the wish that the project repeat the same training for the veterinary paraprofessionals who did not attend these sessions due to the limited number of participant slots for each session. This proposal will be assessed by the project team and the national focal points for 2023.

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