FAO supports First Cohort In-Service Applied Veterinary Epidemiology Training  

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The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) has trained Eleven drawn both national and district level Livestock and Veterinary Services.

 Ministry of Environment and Njala University, graduated from the first country In-Service Applied Veterinary Epidemiology Training (ISAVET).

 These frontline animal health professionals are now skilled in applied epidemiology, One Health approach and community engagement capabilities for better control and management of emerging and re-emerging zoonotic diseases, through use of new diagnostic and surveillance skills.

 The four-month long training entailed a month-long classwork that focused on epidemiological surveillance, field investigation and response, epidemiological methods, preparedness, ethics and professionalism, disease prevention and control and One Health. All trainees successfully completed practical field trainings in their respective work stations and participated in producing weekly surveillance reports, conducting data quality audits and field case studies to address county-specific animal health needs.

FAO Deputy Representative to Sierra Leone, Harding Wuyango, congratulated the grandaunts for completing the in-service training and encouraged them to put into practice what they had learnt over the last four months for the benefit of their immediate community and the country.

 He promised that “FAO will continue to work very closely with the Government of Sierra Leone to support the livestock sector”. He also acknowledged the continued funding support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), aimed at strengthening animal health and One Health in Sierra Leone.

In her remarks, Dayo Walter-Spencers, the USAID Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) Advisor, said that field veterinarians and veterinary para-professionals were an indispensable human resource to ensure animal health and economic growth in the sub-sector. “Field investigation is critical to curbing animal disease outbreaks; these frontline animal health service providers detect and respond to potentially zoonotic infectious diseases at their source.”

 She added that “ISAVET training will empower the Livestock and Veterinary Service Division to strengthen the national surveillance system and improve detection and reporting of endemic, emerging and re-emerging diseases”.

Mohammed Alpha Bah, the Director of Livestock and Veterinary Services in the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, who represented the Minister, lauded the significant contributions of ISAVET to animal health service delivery in Sierra Leone.

 He said, “The milestones would not have been reached without the great work put in by various ISAVET stakeholders”.

 He took the opportunity to thank the trainers and mentors for the selfless works. He lauded the on-the-job training program that addresses critical skills needed to effectively conduct surveillance and response to animal diseases at the local level, focusing on improving disease detection, reporting and response.

“The ISAVET training has built my skills in disease surveillance, data management and outbreak investigation” said John Kamanda Conteh, an ISAVET graduate from Karene district.

“As an ISAVET graduate, I will utilize these skills in improving the epidemio-surveillance system in my country for prevention, early detection, and timely response of priority zoonotic diseases such as anthrax and Trans-boundary animal diseases, such as foot-and-mouth disease, which are of concern to the county.”Josephine Satta Fillie, one of the grandaunts added.

With this graduation, the first cohort of ISAVET trainees join the global network of applied field epidemiologists with improved skills to collect, analyses, and interpret data and contribute to evidence-based interventions, and decisions.

The programme is implemented through the USAID-funded Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA). The ISAVET programme provides “training through service” to ministries of agriculture and environment through training of field veterinarians and paraprofessionals in disease detection, reporting and response to zoonoses and animal-specific diseases.

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