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FAO launches online African swine fever course to build capacity of veterinarians and veterinary paraprofessionals in southern Africa

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FAO launches online African swine fever course to build capacity of veterinarians and veterinary paraprofessionals in southern Africa

This course aims to build the capacity to recognize, diagnose and control ASF outbreaks in the context of production systems

HARARE, Zimbabwe, September 21, 2021 / APO Group / –

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) virtually launched a new online course on African swine fever (ASF) during a webinar held on September 9, 2021. African swine fever is a viral disease of domestic pigs and wild boars with up to 100 percent death, resulting in huge economic losses, business disruption and challenges for the livelihoods of small-scale pig farmers. Only members of the porcine family (Suidae) are susceptible to infection with ASF virus and the warthog is the reservoir of infection in the wild. Hosted by the FAO Virtual Learning Center for Southern Africa (SFS-VLC), the course was developed through a joint collaboration between the SFS-VLC and the FAO Regional Office for Europe and the ‘Central Asia.

“This course aims to build the capacity to recognize, diagnose and control ASF epidemics in the context of production systems, risk factors and response options unique to southern Africa. In this regard, we thank colleagues in the FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia for providing the initial version of the course which has been extensively adapted and revised for its s ‘adapt to the local context with the help of an FAA expert from the Southern Africa region, ”said Jean-Claude Urvoy speaking on behalf of Patrice Talla, FAO sub-regional coordinator for Southern Africa during the webinar. The webinar brought together representatives from FAO, the SADC Secretariat, the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and other key stakeholders in the livestock sector.

Create tailor-made solutions against African swine fever

“While there is some understanding of the differences between appropriate control approaches for high and low income countries, the conventional measure of killing all pigs, paying compensation and starting over is still considered the first price, but many countries that apply it have failed to eradicate ASF. The objective of this online course is therefore to enable veterinarians and veterinary paraprofessionals to design tailor-made solutions for the management of ASF in southern Africa ”, said Mary-Louise Penrith, regional expert of ASF who is the main trainer of the course.

“We cannot stress enough the need to involve the pig farmers themselves, as well as all the players in the pig supply chain, in the prevention and control measures that they understand and that they deem feasible,” he added. added Mary-Louise Penrith.

Despite the unique epidemiological characteristics of ASF in the region, the disease is dominated by a cycle of domestic pigs which is driven by socio-economic factors, primarily poverty, which are beyond the reach of veterinarians to resolve, and therefore a strong multi- A disciplinary approach is required to be successful in the management of ASF.

“The decentralized approach of establishing VLC in the regions ensures that the trainings are tailored to specific regional needs and adapted to the local context and languages. On the other hand, FAO’s coordination of different VLCs ensures that different courses and good practices can be easily shared between regions of the world, ”said Keith Sumption, FAO Chief Veterinarian and Animal Health Program Manager. .

“There has been an overwhelming response to the call for applications for ASF courses, submissions from senior veterinarians and independent applications. More than 500 participants from fifteen countries applied, this is proof of both a good choice of courses and an acceptance of virtual training in the region, ”added Keith Sumption.

The course combines hands-on study at your own pace with a unique opportunity to discuss and network with international experts and regional colleagues in an online discussion forum. It is in the online discussion forum that participants share their knowledge on different training concepts under the guidance of trainers, linking this knowledge with observations in their home countries to come up with local solutions aimed at reducing ASF threat.

More online courses will be developed and delivered in the future; covering multiple topics that are relevant to FAO’s objectives and informed by an assessment of training needs in the region. There are partnership opportunities to disseminate training at country level. This will require additional resources to translate the documents into the other languages ​​spoken in the region, namely Portuguese and French.

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