Animal health and production officers from Tonga’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and Food are now better equipped to facilitate training with field staff on animal disease surveillance.
This follows a week-long training (22-26 August) on animal disease surveillance conducted by the Pacific Community (SPC) in Tongatapu, to ensure that Tonga maintains a proactive animal disease surveillance system that will safeguard livestock products for human consumption and reduce the risks of zoonotic diseases spreading to humans.
With increasing dependence on livestock and livestock products from the Pacific region, there is a need to improve animal disease surveillance systems in order to safeguard the livestock sector from exotic diseases.
According to the World Animal Health Information Database (WAHIS), the Pacific region is generally free from major transboundary zoonotic diseases, including Avian Influenza (HPAI) as well as Foot and Mouth Diseases (FMD), and the establishment of better animal disease surveillance systems will help maintain this status.
The 17 participants received practical training in recognising animal diseases through the different body systems, for example respiratory systems; collecting livestock population data through farmer interviews; enhancing skills in developing representative surveys for the detection of animal diseases, as well as processing of samples for laboratory analysis.
The training also included a field survey to detect the presence of Brucellosis and Leptospirosis in pigs from 14 villages in the Central, Eastern and Western parts of Tongatapu.
“The training is very useful for the staff of the livestock division and will help us respond to any incursions of animal disease outbreaks in Tonga. Furthermore, it will assist Tonga to get an update on its animal disease status,” the Head of the Livestock Division in Tonga, Ana Pifeleti, said.
The training is part of SPC’s wide-ranging technical and scientific support for Tonga, based on the government’s development priorities which have been set out in a five-year Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Government of Tonga and SPC last year to strengthen mutual cooperation.
Through its Land Resources Division, SPC provides advice, technical assistance, research and training support to Pacific Island countries and territories on all aspects of agriculture, forestry and animal health.
Andrew Tukana, SPC Animal Production Extension Officer, [email protected] or +679 3370733
World Animal Health Information Database