The program provides a structured on-the-job training to develop animal health capacity to prevent, detect and respond to potentially zoonotic viral threats at source

NAKURU, Kenya: The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) today launched the frontline In-Service Applied Veterinary Epidemiology Training (ISAVET) for the first Kenyan cohort of veterinarians and para-veterinary professionals.

In collaboration with the Director of Veterinary Services (DVS), the 25 trainees will be trained for four months, with four weeks of formal training (didactic) followed by three months of home-based mentored field projects at trainee duty stations.

‘Field veterinarians and veterinary paraprofessionals are an indispensable human resource. They contribute to effective surveillance, field investigation and emergency response. They have strong ties to the local community and are often first responders of an animal disease outbreak,’ said Carla Mucavi, FAO Representative to Kenya.

Enhancing capacity of frontline animal-health workers

In 2017, the Surveillance Evaluation and Joint External Evaluation (JEE) exercises conducted in Kenya identified a key gap in a structured and routine on-job training for animal health workers, more so the frontline animal health workers.

To carry out early detection and response to potentially zoonotic viral threats at their source, veterinary field officers from the County, Sub County and Regional Veterinary Investigation Laboratories (RVILS) require skills to conduct effective surveillance and outbreak response under a One Health approach.

The ISAVET program provides a structured on-the-job training to develop animal health capacity to prevent, detect and respond to potentially zoonotic viral threats at source, through an “In-service” training targeting field veterinarians and veterinary paraprofessionals in the agriculture sector.

The Kenyan Government has committed itself to developing an efficient and effective veterinary service that will deliver animal health services to protect our animals. Kenya’s veterinary services is anchored upon a strong surveillance system which aims at detecting endemic, emerging and re-emerging diseases, thereby providing support to evidence based disease outbreak response,” said Mr. Harry Kimtai, CBS, Principal Secretary State Department for Livestock as he officially launched the ISAVET training.

Surveillance, prevention and control of animal diseases

Transboundary animal diseases (TADs) such as African Swine Fever (ASF), Peste des Petits Ruminantis (PPR) and Priority Zoonotic Diseases such as Rabies, Anthrax and Brucellosis have immense health, economic and socio-political consequences.

In Kenya, most of the populations affected by disease outbreaks live in the rural areas where livestock play key role in provision of food as well as contributes to household income. 

Epidemiological Surveillance, Field Investigation and Response, Communication and Disease Prevention and Control are some of the core competencies that are required in building the country’s capacity for the management of Priority zoonotic diseases at the Human-Livestock Interphase and Transboundary Animal Diseases at source.

Regional approach to animal health

In 2018, FAO, the Institute for Infectious Animal Diseases (IIAD) of Texas A&M University and collaborators launched the Frontline In-Service Applied Veterinary Epidemiology Training (ISAVET) programme to address endemic, emerging infectious and transboundary animal diseases (EIDs and TADs) in 14 countries of West, Central and East Africa.

The programme is funded through the Workforce Development Action Package of the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) initiative with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

‘As we have seen already, COVID-19 has emphasized the need for the One Health approach. ISAVET builds on the foundation set by Field Epidemiology Laboratory Training programme (FELTP) to address transboundary animal diseases, emerging infectious diseases and antimicrobial resistance. I congratulate the first cohort of trainees and urge them to provide the leadership required in enhancing animal health surveillance in Kenya,’ said the Regional Advisor of the USAID in East and Central Africa, Ricardo Echalar.  


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