Chittagong Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (CVASU) conducted an FETP-V stakeholders meeting between January 19 to 20, 2019 in Bangladesh. Held in collaboration with GHD/EMPHNET, the meeting was attended by 35 participants. Participants included distinguished partners from: the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Department of Livestock Services (DLS) within the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the University of Hong Kong, the Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), the International Center for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b), the Central Disease Investigation Laboratory (CDIL), the Livestock Research Institute (LRI), USAID/Bangladesh, Bangladesh Agricultural University, and Sylhet Agricultural University.
The meeting’s sessions included an overview presentation highlighting the current Bangladesh context regard migration of people from rural to urban, Economy of Bangladesh, and the changes in Livestock.
Prof Sharmin Chowdhury from CVASU, confirmed that Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, is the most crowded city in the country and the most densely populated city in the world. According to her, these demographic indicators make it the most vulnerable to different zoonotic diseases.
It was further stated during the meeting that zoonotic diseases have a notable economic impact, thus causing them to be a serious drain on a country’s economy. In countries that are highly dependent on animals and animal products, as is the case in Bangladesh, zoonotic diseases are likely to be more prevalent.
Within this context, GHD/EMPHNET aims to assist Bangladesh in the latter’s aims to build its capacity to respond to outbreaks of potentially dangerous zoonotic pathogens and surveillance of zoonotic events. Therefore, in collaboration with the National Authorities of Bangladesh, it intends to contribute to the establishment of a Veterinary Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP-V).
This meeting served to ensure the commitment of all involved entities to the project plan as well as their coordination of efforts. From another angle, the meeting served to identify the resources needed to secure continuation of funding for the program from different partners such as: FAO, CDC, and the Livestock Dairy Development Project/World Bank (LDDP/WB). All stakeholders were aligned in consensus over establishing an FETP-V in Bangladesh.
The participants, despite background differences and varying interests, were effectively engaged. They welcomed the opportunity to improve the surveillance system in Bangladesh and they expressed willingness to respond to outbreaks, to control diseases and to prevent the spreading of the diseases in the country.
On the first day of the meeting, the program’s goal, vision and mission were identified and presented. The overall objective was stated as being focused on building a veterinary workforce that also has field epidemiological skills. This workforce is to support the government in disease detection, control and prevention and is to contribute to the enhancement of animal-based production.
On the second day of the meeting, training modules and selection criteria were discussed and agreed upon. The learning objectives of the FETP-V were set, so that they focus on concepts of epidemiology, outbreak investigation, evaluate surveillance programs, data management, analysis and interpretation and the development of leadership, communication and networking skills. The priority for participation in the program will be given to DLS employees who have a good amount of experience and the proper flexibility needed to travel around the country.
Furthermore, the program’s stakeholders and their role and engagement were identified and discussed. The management process and coordination was another point of discussion tackled during the meeting, whereby decisions were made to establish a central coordination unit for the FETP-V. This unit will operate according to clear terms of reference, defined selection criteria, university affiliation and liaison with relevant platforms/networks.
Further indicating the Ministry’s buy-in to the program and willingness to move-on with implementing activities as planned, Secretary, Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock, Md. Raisul Alam Mondal, and Director General, DLS Dr Hiresh Ranjan Bhowmik, attended and closed the meeting.
More specifically, the two-day meeting ended with the drive for the program to strengthen the capability of the veterinary workforce in the areas of disease surveillance, outbreak investigation, risk analysis and networking through field epidemiology training programs. As next steps to be taken, the involved entities will move forward in developing the program curriculum while engaging technical experts in this step.