Gambia Takes Digital Leap in the Fight Against Avian Influenza

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By Aminata E.Sanyang
 
In a concerted effort to combat the pervasive threat of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in The Gambia, the Food and Agriculture Organization has launched a groundbreaking initiative to strengthen the capabilities of national trainers, veterinarians, and para-veterinarians.

With HPAI outbreaks causing significant mortality and destruction of poultry across sub-Saharan Africa, including West Africa, where the H5N1 subtype has been confirmed in wild and domestic birds, the urgency for effective intervention has reached critical levels.

Introducing the Event Mobile Application (EMAi+) during a pivotal training workshop in 2023 marks a significant leap forward in The Gambia’s battle against HPAI. This innovative digital tool represents a game-changer in disease surveillance and reporting, offering real-time data collection, analysis, and reporting capabilities.

Developed in collaboration with leading experts in veterinary epidemiology and technology, the EMAi+ application enables frontline professionals to promptly identify and respond to outbreaks, thus mitigating the spread of the disease and safeguarding poultry populations and livelihoods.

The EMAi+ application’s functionality extends beyond simple data collection, providing a comprehensive disease management and control platform. Its user-friendly interface allows for seamless reporting of suspected cases, monitoring of disease trends, and dissemination of critical information to relevant stakeholders. By harnessing the power of technology, veterinary professionals and paraprofessionals are equipped with the necessary tools to make informed decisions and implement targeted interventions, thereby minimizing the impact of HPAI on the poultry industry.

Moreover, the EMAi+ application facilitates enhanced collaboration and coordination among stakeholders at various healthcare system levels.

Through its integrated communication features, users can share epidemiological information, exchange best practices, and coordinate real-time response efforts. This collaborative approach fosters a unified response to HPAI outbreaks, ensuring a more effective and efficient allocation of resources and personnel.

“This capacity building that you’re witnessing today is based on modern digital technology, and it will enhance the reporting in the livestock sector. Reporting mainly in disease control and to help strengthen bio-security at the national level.”~ Mustapha Ceesay, FAO Assistant Representative for programmes

Implementing the EMAi+ application represents a significant investment in The Gambia’s capacity to combat HPAI and safeguard public health. By embracing digital technology and fostering collaboration between the public and private sectors, the nation is taking proactive steps to address the multifaceted challenges of infectious diseases.

As The Gambia continues to lead the way in innovation and disease control, the EMAi+ application stands as a testament to the power of technology in protecting vulnerable populations and ensuring the sustainability of the poultry industry.

Incorporating data and digital solutions into disease surveillance and control efforts is paramount in addressing the complex challenges of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI). By harnessing the power of technology, such as the EMAi+ application, countries like The Gambia can gather and analyze vast amounts of data in real time, allowing for early detection of outbreaks and prompt response measures.

This data-driven approach improves the accuracy and efficiency of disease reporting. It enables more informed decision-making at every level of the healthcare system. Furthermore, digital solutions facilitate the seamless exchange of information between relevant stakeholders, enhancing collaboration and coordination in disease control efforts. By embracing digital innovation, The Gambia is better equipped to tackle the evolving threat of HPAI and protect the health and livelihoods of its citizens.

This report is produced under the DPI Africa Journalism Fellowship Programme of the Media Foundation for West Africa and Co-Develop.

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