The UN agency has been working with the Directorate of Veterinary Services (DVS) under the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries and the One Health Coordination Desk (OHCD) in Prime Minister’s Office.
This was through a series of trainings that were aimed to strengthen multi-sectoral coordination mechanisms at sub-national levels including building Rapid Response Teams capacity to advance One Health and facilitate a coordinated approach for prevention, detection and response to prioritized zoonotic diseases.
Recently a similar training was concluded in Songwe region in response to the anthrax outbreak that was reported in the region early this year whereby a total of forty three One Health experts from Mbeya and Songwe regions were involved.
Speaking on the sidelines of the training, FAO Tanzania’s country team leader of the emergency centre for transboundary animal disease programme, Folorunso Fasina, said that the One Health experts were comprised of professionals from public health, animal health, environment and wildlife authorities.
“The participants were trained on biosecurity and biosafety, communication, joint external evaluation, safe disposal and decontamination, laboratory sample management, rapid risk assessment/overview of joint risk assessment, and community engagement for One Health and reporting,” he said.
In addition, he said, field experiences regarding anthrax outbreak and response in Songwe, and an after action review on anthrax outbreak in Arusha were presented.
The training was part of the USAID-funded project to support the Global Health Security Agenda to address zoonotic diseases and enhance animal health services capacity in the country. Experts from the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries, Songwe and Mbeya Regional Secretariat, Sokoine University of Agriculture, and FAO facilitated the training.
According to Folorunso Fasina, over the last three years, FAO has capacitated over three hundred personnel in different sectors, with skills in outbreak investigation, risk assessment, preparedness, prevention, detection and response using One Health approach. “FAO has also supported the development of the One Health Rapid Response Teams Training package that is being used to train more professionals at national and sub national levels,” he pointed out.
On his part, the Director of Veterinary Services, Dr Hezron Nonga, stressed on the need for multi-sectoral collaboration when dealing with prioritized zoonotic diseases bearing in mind that more than sixty percent of emerging infectious pathogens are of animal origin.
In Tanzania, most of the neglected zoonoses such as rabies and anthrax are making a strong comeback, causing devastating effects on livestock, the economy and adversely affecting human health. Initiatives to build capacities of professionals on rapid response using interdisciplinary collaborations, communications and social science fields in all aspects of health care for humans, animals and the environment are therefore crucial. Such training and field practicals are among efforts to address the challenges.