Participants in a group photograph

THE SECOND edition of the Regional Network of National Epidemio Surveillance System for Transboundary Animal Disease (RESEPI) conference has been opened in Accra.

The three day conference organized by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN (FAO), US Department for Defense (USDA), United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and US African Command (AFRICOM) is aimed at assessing the status of national epi-surveillance systems and regional animal health programs.

Organized for directors of veterinary services and heads of laboratories from West and Central Africa, the conference will also identify opportunities for strengthening networks in the fight against transboundary animal diseases.

Officially opening the conference on behalf of the Deputy Minister of Agric in charge of Livestock, Dr. E. A. Mark-Hansen of the Veterinary Services Directorate called for revitalization of the national epidemiological surveillance networks.

He said strong surveillance was important to the early detection of diseases in order for early response and urged participants to deliberate on issues that would enhance surveillance of transboundary animal diseases.

Dr. Vivian Iwar, Head of animal resources development, Department of Agric and Rural Development, ECOWAS Commission, said animal transboundary diseases constituted a major loss to livestock production in direct losses to mortality, adding that a lack of funding had continued to hamper the development and implementation of prevention and control strategies.

?Individual approaches to the prevention and control of transboundary animal diseases have not been cost effective, and a sub-regional approach seems to be a better option in containing these maladies,? she said.

She consequently pledged ECOWAS? willingess to collaborate with partners to achieve a reduction in the incidence of livestock diseases in the sub-region.

?Controlling animal diseases will ensure that the livestock sector attains its full potential in its contribution to food security, job creation, income generation, wealth creation, and enhanced contribution to agriculture and national GDPs. This will require hard work, persistence, and focus to attain,? she said.

Musa Saihou Mbenga, FAO representative said animal disease surveillance was key to improving disease monitoring and reducing animal health related risks adding that reducing the incidence of diseases was therefore one of the priorities to be considered in order to reduce poverty.

By Jamila Akweley Okertchiri

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