SOUTHERN AFRICA – The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has introduced a crucial online course on Avian Influenza in Portuguese, targeting veterinarians and veterinary paraprofessionals across Southern Africa.

This initiative, orchestrated by the Virtual Learning Centre for Southern Africa (SFS-VLC), aims to bolster early detection, diagnosis, and response capabilities to Avian Influenza outbreaks, a timely response following recent outbreaks in Mozambique.

Avian Influenza, a severe transboundary animal disease, poses significant threats to domestic poultry worldwide, leading to high mortality rates, market access bans, and substantial economic and livelihood impacts in affected regions.

With Southern Africa, including Mozambique, Angola, and Cape Verde, experiencing the brunt of these outbreaks, the need for comprehensive training in the region’s languages, specifically Portuguese, has become evident.

Jose Luis Fernandez, FAO Representative in Mozambique, highlighted the importance of enhancing regional understanding of the disease’s epidemiology, surveillance, and diagnostic capacities in all regional languages, starting with Portuguese. The course aims to harmonize approaches across the region, ensuring no country is left behind in the fight against this pervasive disease.

Launched during a webinar that outlined the current status of Avian Influenza in Africa and globally, the course will reach 354 veterinarians and veterinary paraprofessionals. It is designed to create a unified front against Avian Influenza through consistent training across Angola, Cape Verde, and Mozambique. Master trainers from the Eduardo Mondlane University in Mozambique and the University of Pretoria in South Africa, both Centers of Excellence for FAO work within Southern Africa, will lead the course.

Developed initially by the Friedrich-Loeffler Institute in Germany and translated into Portuguese with the support of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), the course is a testament to international collaboration and commitment to disease preparedness and response.

Over the next four weeks, participants will engage in an immersive learning experience, featuring a blend of self-directed study, live webinars, and online discussions facilitated by seasoned trainers.

The comprehensive curriculum is designed to equip participants with an in-depth understanding of Avian Influenza’s epidemiology, clinical signs, sample collection for diagnosis, biosecurity practices, human exposure risks, surveillance, investigation procedures, and prevention and control measures.

Since its inception in 2020, the SFS-VLC has trained over 1,350 participants from 15 SADC countries in various aspects of animal health, demonstrating a positive impact through increased capacity for disease management and response.

For all the latest food safety news from Africa and the World, subscribe to our NEWSLETTER, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.