FAO develops App to support early disease reporting and surveillance

FAO Africa

Through a new mobile digital technology, 20 farming communities in Ghana will better manage emerging diseases putting both animal and human lives at risk.

The FAO-initiated application, christened ‘Event Mobile Application’ (EMA-i) is designed to support surveillance end reporting of priority diseases in animal health system across the country.

The EMA-i allows veterinarians and animal health experts to enter geo-reference epidemiological data into an application and transmit these data to a database directly from the field using their smart phones in real time for further validation.

As a pilot project, the device will be implemented for an initial period of three months, from December 2018 to February 2019 to test and validate the technology in the field. Based on results from data collection, and assessment the benefit, it will be adopted as the official reporting system for the District Veterinary Offices nationwide.

Users of the application is expected to be handed with 30 Smart phones, 30 SIM cards loaded with credit for three months, with internet access, four computers, one each for the pilot regions and one for the national Veterinary Services Department headquarters.
Launching the device at a user training session in Accra, Ghana’s Minister of State in Charge of Agriculture, Gyiele Nurah, said increased livestock production was an integral part of moving agriculture beyond aid in the country.

He observed “that the timely detection and response of the Veterinary Service in containing the outbreaks of the avian influenza, which occurred in June 2018 in Ashanti and Eastern Regions was remarkable”.

The FAO EMA-i – Ghana Pilot Project training taking place today to introduce the use of digital technologies for real time reporting of animal diseases is a step in the right direction, he intimated.

He expressed optimism that the application of digital technologies will go a long way to enhance early detection, timely reporting and prompt response of animal disease events in the country.

Dr Abebe Haile Gabriel, the Assistant Director for FAO Africa said as pioneer users of this EMA-i for animal health reporting in the country, “all trainees are urged to be passionate, committed and to ensure the prudent use of the smart phones and desktop computers so that they will last for a very long time”.

He said the scaling up of EMA-i application to other districts would be determined by their success in the pilot phase.

The Assistant Director said indeed, the use of IT technology was wide spread in all sectors of the agricultural sector and already, and that Ghana has for some time now implemented an e-extension system for farmers.

“Obviously, the introduction of EMA-i is timely for the animal health sector, the Veterinary Service should therefore embrace and own the system and make all efforts technically and financially to ensure that it works, and ultimately to cover the whole country within a short period after the initial pilot phase of six months,” he added.

Key benefits of the EMA-i digital technologies includes enhancing timely reporting of disease information from local to central level; enhancing quality of information transmitted from local to central level and effective and early response to disease threats.

Others are enhancing feedback on guidance, advice, services, access to veterinary drugs to support disease management, improve communication between actors (veterinary services, animal health workers, laboratory experts), easy to maintain and sustain in the long term with limited resources Cost/effective compared to traditional systems.

Source: Samuel Bruce Nyarko- FAO Communication specialist

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