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Regional Animal Disease Information Management Report
Thursday, 21 January 2010 13:38

A regional animal disease information management and reporting workshop was held in Nadi from 6-9 April 2009. It was attended by representatives from eighteen (18) member countries and territories of the Pacific island region.  Participants received detailed training in OIE international disease reporting for diseases of both aquatic and terrestrial animals using an on-line World Animal Health Information System (WAHIS)  ‘test system’ administered by OIE.  Participants completed numerous on-line exercises involving data entry, data review and data submission functions of the WAHIS system covering immediate notification, half-yearly reporting and annual reporting.  Contact details of country/territory delegates were confirmed to enable the OIE to provide WAHIS access to delegates of SPC member countries/territories.  The majority of participants believed it would be feasible for their country/territory to submit an annual disease report for the calendar year 2008 by the end of April 2009.  Participants also received introductory training in FAO’s trans-boundary animal disease information management system (TADinfo). 

Workshop opening and objectives. 

The workshop was opened by Dr Ken Cokanasiga (SPC) who welcomed participants to Fiji and offered a very warm welcome to visiting specialists and distinguished guests from OIE and FAO who had endured a long journey to enable the workshop to take place.
Dr Karim Jebara (OIE) welcomed participants and noted that the workshop schedule would be very full and would also be a very ‘hands-on’ workshop to enable participants to become trained and competent with OIE’s WAHIS disease reporting system.
Dr Akiko Kamata (FAO) outlined her background in database management and that she was looking forward to working with workshop participants.

Dr Ian Peebles (SPC) outlined the key objectives of the workshop were:

  • to provide participants with introductory training in FAO’s TADinfo database application; 
  • to provide participants with detailed (comprehensive) training in OIE’s WAHIS disease reporting system . 

He also noted that recent changes to the requirements for the export of live ornamental aquatic species to the EU had become a significant issue facing numerous Pacific island countries and territories directly relevant to disease surveillance and reporting.   The training at this workshop was intended to assist affected countries to establish appropriate disease reporting capacity in order to satisfy these EU import requirements. 

TADinfo introductory training 

Dr Kamata (FAO) introduced participants to FAO’s TADinfo software package.  Participants received TADinfo user manual information as reference material, although not the complete user manual.  The complete user manual is over 200 pages and is included as part of the TADinfo software package, so it is electronically available to TADinfo users. Recommended computer specifications for different operating environments are included in the user manual.  There are various incompatibilities with Windows Vista platform, so it is not a recommended platform for TADinfo.

TADinfo comprises numerous functional modules that can be used as required: field observations, abattoir observations, active surveillance, livestock populations, and vaccination modules.  Not all modules are necessarily relevant for animal health services or situations in all countries/territories.
Dr Kamata (FAO) highlighted that detailed training in TADinfo requires extensive training over at least five days.  Importantly it is necessary to customize TADinfo to national requirements in terms of criteria, parameters and objectives that may vary from country to country.  Customization of the GIS function to different countries and territories requires GIS map files to be provided in a suitable format (eg ‘shape’ files).  Names of administrative provinces, cities, towns and localities must be included with GIS ‘map’ files.  

It was noted that existing information could be imported into TADinfo from applications such as MS Excel although programming adjustments would be required so that field names and formatting would be compatible.  Dr Kamata (FAO) noted that exporting of information from TADinfo to WAHIS was not yet possible.  Dr Jebara (OIE) advised that a suitable ‘data import’ function was being developed in WAHIS to enable the import of data from TADinfo to WAHIS.  Participants were informed that the development of a ‘TADinfo data import’ function for WAHIS was a ‘work in progress’ and OIE hoped that the function would be operational in 2010. 

Information on WAHIS and WAHID

Dr Jebara (OIE) introduced participants to the WAHIS and World Animal Health Information Database (WAHID) applications. 

Key elements of WAHIS and WAHID were outlined as:

Providing up to date information to veterinary authorities;

  • Member countries required to provide immediate notification (within 24 hours) in response to significant disease events; 
  • Member countries required to provide regular disease reports that include monthly (following significant disease outbreaks) , 6-monthly and annual reporting;
  • The reporting of additional information where relevant ( eg presence of non-OIE listed diseases, zoonoses in humans, animal populations, veterinary services, laboratory and diagnostic services, vaccine facilities);
  • Disease distribution maps and time-series data – these are updated monthly and therefore dependent on monthly reporting by affected countries for accuracy.
  • WAHIS enables reporting of suspected outbreaks and follow-up reports are then required once a diagnosis is confirmed (either clinically or via laboratory analysis) or not confirmed to either close or continue a disease outbreak report.

It was noted in discussion that veterinary service capacity is often limited in many developing countries and that better use of information from livestock producers via systems such as syndromic surveillance could provide useful surveillance information (data) to alert animal health agencies to disease outbreaks.  Papua New Guinea noted that it had embarked on a pilot syndromic surveillance program with assistance from Australia (Queensland Dept. of Primary Industries). 

In addition to the global WAHIS system, Dr Jebara (OIE) noted that a WAHIS regional disease reporting facility (‘regional core’) could be developed to enable enhanced disease reporting and management of priority diseases at a regional level.  Such a mechanism has been developed for the ASEAN region, where foot and mouth disease and highly pathogenic avian influenza are key priority diseases requiring close co-operation and information sharing between nations.

OIE International Standards

Dr Chaisemartin (OIE) introduced participants to a number of the key OIE International Standards publications that provide key technical information relevant to the WAHIS disease reporting system:

  • OIE Terrestrial animal health code (2008)
  • OIE Aquatic animal health code (2008)
  • OIE Manual of diagnostic tests and vaccines for terrestrial animals (2008)

He also outlined the process of establishing expert working groups for developing OIE standards and for member countries to agree on and endorse OIE standards.  It was noted that only OIE member countries are eligible to vote for or against the adoption of proposed standards.  Participants were made aware that the OIE Standards publications are available on-line via the OIE website ( and hard copies can be purchased from OIE. 

Disease reporting exercises using WAHIS test system

Participants were provided with logon access to an on-line WAHIS ‘test-system’ interface administered by OIE.  This ‘test system’ provided identical features to the actual WAHIS system and enabled participants to enter, review, edit and submit reports as if they were using the WAHIS system. 

The OIE specialists Dr Jebara and Dr Chaisemartin provided participants with numerous practical exercises over the course of three workshop days, to cover the key functional disease reporting aspects of WAHIS:

  • Preparation, review and submission of immediate disease notification reports;
  • Preparation, review and submission of follow-up reports (both for continuation and closure of an initial disease outbreak report)
  • Preparation, review and submission of half-yearly report (including monthly reporting by administrative province)
  • Preparation, review and submission of annual animal disease reports.

Common mistakes in data entry and submission of reports were highlighted for the benefit of participants.  It was also noted that some of the existing WAHIS functions would be upgraded with the development of a WAHIS2 system.

EU Ornamental Trade

Mr Ponia (SPC) and Dr Hamilton (SPC consultant) provided participants with detailed information regarding the current trade issue affecting the export of live aquatic ornamental species to the EU and the importance of aquatic disease status reporting to facilitate trade. Participants were advised on the recent EU legislative changes and the imminent deadlines for new certification requirements.
Discussions were held on the correspondence that SPC has had with the EU on members’ behalf. Participants were advised that in order to resolve this trade issue it was essential members utilize the WAHIS system provided by OIE. Discussions were also held on the potential benefits to member countries if they chose to become OIE members.

Summary Conclusions and Findings

  • Participants generally agreed that establishing a national animal health information system database (such as TADinfo ) would be very useful for the recording and documentation of findings from disease investigations and surveys;
  • Countries/territories were encouraged to apply for technical assistance via FAO’s Technical Cooperation Program;
    • SPC agreed to see if a regional technical assistance project could be established via FAO to facilitate improved animal disease information management and reporting (at the national level).
    • Participants generally agreed that access to WAHIS and WAHID systems would be useful for their country/territory to enable (i) the submission of disease status reports and (ii) access to disease reports by other countries;
    • Participants were not convinced that establishment of a WAHIS Regional Core specific for the Pacific island region was a high priority, as the region generally has a very favourable animal health status when compared to regions such as ASEAN;
    • The majority of participants believed it would be feasible to submit an annual disease report to OIE for the 2008 calendar year by the end of April 2009;
    • This was noted as particularly important for those countries affected by EU restrictions on the export of ornamental fish and molluscs;
    • SPC agreed to assist any agencies that had difficulty in gaining adequate internet access to submit an on-line report to WAHIS.  A paper-based report could be completed and submitted either to SPC or directly to OIE;  
    • Participants from each country/territory confirmed or updated contact details for their country/territory OIE delegates and the completed list was provided to Dr Chaisemartin to enable OIE to send each country delegate their specific access details for WAHIS.
    • SPC agreed to follow up with member countries by the end of April 2009 to monitor progress on the submission of animal health reports for calendar year 2008 into WAHIS and provide further technical support as required.