Some 180 veterinarians from 14 African countries will benefit from a training programme launched on Tuesday by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation and the US-based Institute for Infectious Animal Diseases, FAO said in a statement.
Veterinary epidemiologists from Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Uganda will benefit from the In-Service Applied Veterinary Epidemiology (ISAVET) programme, according to FAO.
The ISAVET programme will take place over the next 12 months and will focus on public, animal and wildlife health as pathogens that cross institutional mandates and geographic boundaries, FAO said.
"This in-service training for veterinary epidemiologists is a good model for future sustainability as once we have built in the momentum together, it can be led and expanded by local and continental veterinary institutions," said Juan Lubroth, Chief Veterinary Officer FAO.
"What is important here is that it is based on practical, applied, issues relevant to the country, where one ‘learns by doing'".
The first ISAVET training session is taking place in Uganda in October. Around 60 vets will graduate from ISAVET this year and a further 120 trainees are expected to graduate from the programme in 2019.
The project also will develop a network of trainers and mentors from Africa, said FAO. Veterinary field epidemiologists conduct surveillance and outbreak response for endemic and emerging infectious diseases, as well as transboundary animal diseases.
FAO's Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases and IIAD - part of Texas A&M AgriLife Research - will spearhead the curriculum's development and implementation together with the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, working closely with public health, and local partner, said FAO.
"We are pleased to take such an important supporting role in frontline defence of diseases that could impact both animals and humans internationally," said IIAD director Melissa Berquist.
The In-Service Applied Veterinary Epidemiology initiative in Africa follows a similar programme started 10 years ago in Asia, which now has established training centers in Thailand, China, and Indonesia, FAO noted.