Technology drives disease control

07 February 2019 | Agriculture

In order to facilitate the collection of specimens and the reporting of animal diseases, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) is currently upgrading its internet-based World Animal Health Information System (WAHIS), which will make animal health control easier.

The OIE announced this last month during the 11th Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA) in Berlin, Germany, attended by the ministers responsible for veterinary services from 74 member countries.

The gathering looked at digitalisation and smart solutions for future farming.

The OIE is an intergovernmental organisation that coordinates, supports and promotes animal disease control.

Namibia is also a member, but is not clear whether the agriculture ministry attended the Berlin gathering.

OIE deputy director-general Dr Jean-Philippe Dop said in a statement that the ministers who attended the meeting expressed their support for the ongoing upgrading of the WAHIS, by acknowledging its key contribution to more sustainable, responsible and efficient livestock production.

The participants also entrusted the OIE with the task of pursuing the implementation of global digital strategies that promote and enhance the exchange of information, thereby contributing to strengthening the cross-border fight against animal diseases.

“As we enter 2019, the spread of the epizootics of African swine fever (ASF) is an example of the various sanitary concerns with which veterinary services and animal health experts have to deal.

“When confronted with a disease that has such a serious socio-economic impact on countries, especially on the livelihood of pig farmers, the ability to quickly assess the evolution of the situation is key to stem its spread.

“In this regard, the efficient management and control of the disease requires that countries share transparent information about their animal health situation, so that it can be made available to the international community in a timely manner,” Dop said.

The OIE said the refreshed and renovated WAHIS platform will make it easier for countries to collect and report information, as well as upload data from their own databases.

The new interface will also allow for data to be viewed, analysed and extracted more rapidly, and in different formats.

“The OIE-WAHIS will provide high-quality and reliable geospatial data, which will enable OIE member countries to undertake comprehensive risk analyses. Maps will be interactive, allowing for a dynamic display of information on animal diseases. Data from the OIE-WAHIS will be usable in a variety of analytical programmes,” Dop added.

The OIE-WAHIS will also provide straightforward and standardised ways to interconnect with other international or regional information systems and integrate other valuable data sources, so that users can share and mutually enrich data, in collaboration with OIE stakeholders.

The genomic data linked to epidemiological data in the WAHIS will strengthen disease traceability and contribute to analyses on genetic epidemiology.

ILENI NANDJATO

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