Speaking in Dar es Salaam at the weekend during a workshop on the use of One Health approach to prevent pandemics, the Registrar of the Veterinary Council of Tanzania Dr Bedan Masuruli said anthrax which started in Songwe and later spread to Arusha and Kilimanjaro regions, is now in Morogoro region.
Dr Hezron Nonga, the Director of Veterinary Services in the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries Development, announced last month that the disease which had been confirmed in Moshi and Rombo districts in Kilimanjaro region and Longido district in Arusha region was successfully controlled.
Dr Masuruli said the reason for the spread of the disease from one region to another is laxity of livestock field officers working at village and ward levels all over the country.
“The problem is they don’t report the outbreaks timely to district veterinary officers who should relay the same information to the Director of Veterinary Services,” he said.
Due to delays in reporting the outbreaks, the government remains in the dark about the situation, leading to the further spread of the disease to animals and risks transmission to humans, he pointed out
Dr Masuruli who opened the training on behalf of the Permanent Secretary, Prof Elisante ole Gabriel, said the workshop was intended as capacity building for wildlife experts, veterinary officers, livestock officers and environmental experts on how to work together to control diseases that can be directly transmitted from animals to humans.
The training was offered by Ifakara Health Institute (IHI) and the Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The purpose of the training is to build One Health capacity in particular in Kagera and Kigoma regions which border countries in the hotspot of emerging pandemic threats, the registrar noted.
“As we mark the commencing of the second group, I urge IHI and SUA to brainstorm on how you can enhance Tanzania health professionals’ response to Zoonotic threats,” he appealed.
“It is good that we have started with these two hot spot regions. However all of us have witnessed the recent outbreaks of anthrax in Tanzania that occurred in Songwe region, a region which we never thought of this kind of outbreak to occur.
“Also we need to think broadly and ensure we build a pool of training of trainers (TOT) who could be used to conduct capacity building in a cascading manner in all over Tanzania,” he further observed.
He also expressed gratitude to USAID through the PREDICT project which has continued to support Tanzania in bio-surveillance of emerging pandemic threats.
He called on USAID to consider further support to in-country partners, SUA and IHI to continue with bio-surveillance, conduct capacity building for various cadres in human and animal health, extension officers and outreach activities to communities outside areas covered by this project.
He commended IHI, SUA and USAID for conducting One Health training in a multidisciplinary approach to individual sector professionals across the country.
“We have the opportunity to change not only how we teach about these disease threats, but also to use the skills gained to improve professional skills of the next generation of health professionals,” he declared.
IHI senior research scientist Dr Ally Olutu lauded USAID for giving IHI a total of 1.7bn/- so as to provide training to wildlife experts and others.
The other cadres in the training are livestock field officers, veterinarian and environmental experts, while IHI is also expected to conduct research on interaction between the human and animal components in the environment, and its impact on Zoonotic outbreaks in Kagera and Kigoma.
The main goal was to help human and animal health experts to be more competent to identify viruses and diseases that can be transmitted from animals to human. Right now zoonotic diseases cause human and animal death, the researcher stated.
“We have decided to provide training and conduct research on interaction between human, animal, environment and its impact on Zoonotic disease after discovering that 75 per cent of human pathogens have links with animal sources and 60 per cent of all human diseases are transmitted by animals,” he remarked.
IHI decided to embark on this research and provide training since right now Zoonotic diseases present a major threat to human and animal health, he stated.
“IHI will continue to provide more training to human and animal health experts to help Tanzania obtain more experts providing training to other health professionals,” he told the workshop.
IHI similarly expressed the wish to continue working with SUA and USAID to implement the One Health approach in Tanzania, intended to ease the work to confront the threat of infectious diseases, especially Zoonotic diseases.