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Communiqué - Continental Training Workshops on the Diagnosis, Control and Surveillance of Aquatic Animal Diseases

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© 2017 AU-IBAR. Continental Training Workshops on the Diagnosis, Control and Surveillance of Aquatic Animal Diseases.© 2017 AU-IBAR. Continental Training Workshops on the Diagnosis, Control and Surveillance of Aquatic Animal Diseases.Introduction

A continental training workshop on the diagnosis and control of aquatic animal diseases and consultative workshops to develop regional aquatic animal disease control frameworks as well as establish regional aquatic animal health networks was jointly organized by the African Union Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) and the NEPAD Agency in collaboration with the Government and People’s of the Arab Republic of Egypt, WorldFish Africa Aquaculture Research and Training Center (AARTC) in Egypt, Benha University in Egypt and Central Laboratory for Aquaculture Research (CLAR) in Egypt. The meeting was organized from the 26th to 30th March in Cairo, Arab Republic of Egypt.

The overall objective of the training was to strengthen the veterinary capacity for aquatic animal disease diagnosis, control and surveillance on the continent. The specific objectives were to (i) impart practical knowledge and skills to veterinarians and fisheries managers to improve their capacity to undertake diagnoses, prevention and control of fish diseases within their respective regions and (ii) strengthen the capacity of regional and national veterinary and fisheries services to supervise and implement fish disease prevention and control measures.

The workshops were conducted in response to the increasing incidences of emerging trans-boundary aquatic animal diseases on the continent as well as of endemic diseases on-farm. In addition, aquatic animal diseases control was among the strategies in the Policy Framework and Reform Strategy for fisheries and aquaculture in Africa (PFRS) under the policy arenas of the conservation and sustainable use of aquatic animal resources and sustainable aquaculture development. Participants from African Union (AU) Member States (MS) who attended these workshops shall serve as Trainer of Trainers (ToT) in their respective countries.

The training was attended by 84 participants representing 24 AU member states namely: Botswana, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Mauritius, Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Regional Economic Communities (RECs) present were EAC, IGAD, COMESA, UMA and CENSAD; AU-IBAR Veterinary Governance Regional Coordinators from UMA, CENSAD, SADC, COMESA and EAC; Fish Disease mapping consultants for North, Eastern and Southern Africa; Regional Laboratory and Epidemiology coordinators from East and Southern Africa and International Experts. The caliber of the participants consisted of veterinarians and aquaculture/fisheries officers involved in aquatic animal disease control within their respective AU MS and respective regions.

Opening statements from the Director of AU-IBAR, Prof Ahmed El-sawalhy and the Honorable Deputy of Agriculture for Livestock, Fisheries and Poultry Resources from the Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation, Prof Dr Mona Mehrez marked the opening ceremony.

In his opening remarks Prof. Ahmed El-sawalhy, the Director of AU-IBAR, gave a background of AU-IBAR, noting that the technical office of the African Union Commission responsible for coordinating the management and utilization of the Continents animal resources. AU-IBAR was established in1951 primarily to control epizootics in animal diseases. The mandate of AU-IBAR was expanded to comprehensively address the utilization and management of animal resource in the 1970s. To guide the sustainable fisheries development of the Continents fisheries sector, the Policy Framework and Reform Strategy for Fisheries and Aquaculture in Africa (PFRS) was developed and endorsed during the African Heads of State and Governments Summit, in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea in June 2014.

The Director of AU-IBAR noted that recent outbreaks of emerging trans-boundary Aquatic Animal Diseases (TAADS) affecting the sector, notably White Spot Syndrome Virus in Mozambique and Madagascar in prawn farms and Aphanomyces invadans infection (EUS) in the Zambezi River Basin had had devastating effects on fishery and aquaculture production and the livelihoods of producers. Their occurrence also revealed the level of inadequacy of the continent aquatic animal disease control mechanisms. He mentioned new emerging transboundary diseases such as Tilapia Lake Virus (TiLV) that posed a potential threat to the global tilapia population. It was against this background that the evident need to build the capacity of veterinarians and veterinary services to effectively diagnose, control and undertake the surveillance of aquatic animal diseases has been realized.

The Honorable Deputy Minister of Agriculture for Livestock, Fisheries and Poultry Resources for the Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation, Prof Dr Mona Mehrez welcomed the participants to Egypt and officially opened the training workshops. In her opening remarks, she recognized the importance of fish in Egypt as a source of protein for majority of the local population and thus it had been prioritized as a food producing sector in the national agenda since 1980 when land was set aside for fish production. As such the country has increased its consumption of fish products from 15kg/capita to over 20kg/capita with over 1 million tonnes of tilapia production through aquaculture. She echoed the efforts of the Egyptian government in the promotion of the fisheries and aquaculture sectors through the establishment of hatcheries, fish mills, and allocation of suitable areas for aquaculture. Furthermore, current development plans were taking into account strategies to ensure water availability and adaptation to climate change. As one of the largest fish producing countries on the continent, Egypt acknowledged the importance of managing and controlling the fish diseases among both the wild and farmed populations. Given the importance of the sector, Egypt, has seen the need and realised the benefits of building capacity for the detection and control of fish diseases. The workshops therefore, provided a great opportunity for sharing experiences, knowledge and best practices in fish disease control. The Hon Deputy Minister wished participants successful deliberations and declared the meeting open.

The Training

Background of the Workshop

The following background presentations were provided to guide the workshop:

  • Setting the scene presentation: African aquaculture development trends and the need for disease control by Dr Nelly Isyagi.
  • Overview of current regional disease situation in Eastern Africa by Dr H Nikuli, Tanzania.
  • Overview of current regional disease situation in Southern Africa by Dr John Walakira, Uganda.
  • Overview of current regional disease situation in Northern Africa by Dr T Murphy, Consultant, Republic of Ireland.
  • An insight into global aquaculture, the global disease situation by Dr Rohana Subasinghe, Srilanka.
  • A brief overview of the fish disease training manual by Prof Adel Shaheen, Egypt.
  • Aquatic Animal Physiology and Basic Principles of Aquatic Animal Health Management by Prof Adel Shaheen, Egypt.

 Technical Sessions

The various technical sessions were facilitated by Dr Nelly Isyagi, the Aquaculture Officer at AU-IBAR. The Regional Veterinary Governance focal points and a representative from South Africa also facilitated various technical sessions.

  • The following presentations were provided by the AU-IBAR consultant Prof Emeritus Adel Shaheen, Benhar University Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Moshtohor – Toukh, Egypt:
    • Bacterial Diseases.
    • Parasitic Diseases.
    • Mycotic diseases and Fungal diseases.
    • Viral diseases.
    • Environmental diseases.
    • Principles and methods for the control of Aquatic Animal Diseases.
    • Chemicals and Drugs used for control of Aquatic Animal Diseases.
    • Viral: White Spot Syndrome Virus, Abalone Virus, Tilapia Lake Virus.
  • Nutritional Diseases by Prof Gamal El-Naggar, Senior Scientist, WorldFish Abassa, Egypt.
  • Epizootic Ulcerative Syndrome by Dr Bernard Mudenda, University of Zambia, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Zambia.
  • Data requirements for assessing and controlling aquatic animal diseases by Dr Nelly Isyagi, AU-IBAR.
  • SADC Animal Health Networks by Dr Makaya, SADC Regional Animal Health Laboratory Network, Zimbabwe.
  • The SADC Aquatic Animal Health Strategy by Dr Christianson, National OIE Focal Point Aquatic Animals, DAFF, South Africa.
  • EAC intervention on aquatic animal health by Dr Wesonga, Livestock Officer, EAC.

Practical Sessions

The practical sessions were conducted at the WorldFish Africa Aquaculture Research and Training Centre and Central Laboratory for Aquaculture Research (CLAR) located at Abassa, Arab Republic of Egypt. Scientists who provided practical demonstrations were from CLAR, Benha University, National Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries.

The practical sessions consisted the following sessions:

  • Level I: On-site (farm/wild) diagnosis that included:
    • Examination of live aquatic animals
    • Collection and submission of aquatic animal and water samples for laboratory diagnosis
    • Water quality assessment
    • Evaluation of feeds and feeding
    • Observation of ponds and the production environment.
  • Level II: Basic Laboratory techniques
    • Mycology
    • Parasitology
    • Bacteriology
    • Biosecurity control in closed recirculatory systems
    • Histopathology
  • Level III: Advanced confirmatory laboratory techniques
    • PCR
    • Immunological tests – ELISA
    • Biochemistry

Regional Group Sessions

Three working groups were constituted for East, Southern and North Africa and facilitated by the AU-IBAR Veterinary Governance focal points at RECS. The working groups elaborated on the SWOT analysis for the Development of regional aquatic animal disease control frameworks and regional aquatic animal health networks.

Outcomes of the Meeting

The training came up with the following outcomes

  • The Fisheries Managers and Veterinarians were capacitated with applied practical knowledge for improving their capacity to diagnose, prevention and control of fish diseases within their respective regions.
  • The capacity of regional and national veterinary services was strengthened to develop, implement and supervise fish disease diagnosis and control measures.
  • Veterinarians and Fisheries Managers agreed to work together and collaborate on all matters regarding aquatic animal health.


The following recommendations were noted:

  • The development of the manual was appreciated and considered relevant, comprehensive and timely. However, it is recommended that extracts from the manual be tailored to the following stakeholders
    • Veterinarians
    • Fish technicians and extension service providers.
    • Identification key for producers.
  • In addition, the training manual(s) should:
    • Be improved in layout and presentation in order to make it easier to read and use.
    • The learning objectives of the manual (and each of the proposed excerpts) should be clearly defined. The content and presentation of the manual should then be tailored to the needs of the identified stakeholders groups.
    • Issues of climate change and its influence on emergence of disease should also be addressed comprehensively in the manual.
  • Upon completion of the final draft, a consultation process to review and finalize the manual should be instituted for purposes of ensuring clarity, quality, relevance and accuracy of content. Drafts should be reviewed by different stakeholders, notably the potential user groups of the manual, relevant experts and specialized organizations.
  • There is a need to increase active surveillance of aquatic animal diseases in the AU MS;
  • Collection and transmission of aquatic disease data should be in conformity with AU-IBAR and OIE requirements for aquatic animal epidemiological surveillance.
  • The need to improve the sharing of information on aquatic animal diseases between fisheries departments, veterinary departments and other relevant stakeholders.
  • Effective working relationships were recommended as being necessary for the control of aquatic animal diseases between Fisheries Managers and Veterinarians at national and regional level.
  • A list of approved appropriate veterinary drugs, disinfectants and medications needs to be developed to mitigate against the misuse of these veterinary inputs and their concomitant negative impacts on the environment and public health (e.g. antimicrobial resistance). It was recommended that this process be initiated and coordinated by AU-IBAR in collaboration with RECs and MS.
  • The national Veterinary and Fisheries Departments should encourage the national aquatic animal health focal points to capitalize on the existing national animal health laboratory networks for the detection and control of aquatic animal diseases.
  • The national Veterinary and Fisheries Departments focal points at RECs ensure the implementation of regional control of trans-boundary aquatic animal diseases. Accordingly, it was recommended that budget lines for aquatic animal disease control be included in the RECs for regional animal diseases control and surveillance budgets.
  • That AU-IBAR initiate and coordinate the compilation of a continental list of reputable suppliers for aquatic animal diagnostic kits and other veterinary products such as drugs, laboratory reagents and feed additives in liaison with continental laboratories currently undertaking aquatic animal diagnostics; and
  • Continuous research on emerging and re-emerging aquatic animal diseases be supported.

Closing Remarks

Dr William Olaho-Mukani, VET-GOV Regional Coordinator based at the EAC Headquarter provided a closing remark on behalf of the AU-IBAR Director. He thanked the participants for their active participation and hoped that the training lessons shall impact diagnosis, control and surveillance of aquatic animal diseases on the continent. Dr Olaho-Mukani encouraged the participants to network with fellow participants and exchange contacts for future engagements on issues of aquatic animal health.

Prof. Dr. Refaat El-Gamal, the Director of Fish Health Department, Central laboratory for Aquaculture Research at Abbassa closed the meeting. In his closing remarks, Prof El-Gamal, expressed what a pleasure it had been meeting and working with all the participants. The training workshops provided an opportunity to discuss and exchange views as well as share experiences to further the development of aquaculture as well as the fisheries in Africa which were among the major sectors that contributed to food and nutrition food security on the continent.

Prof El-Gamal hoped all the participants enjoyed their stay in Egypt and acknowledged the AUI-IBAR for supporting and conducting this event. He noted that Egypt looked forward to the continued collaboration between the respective Member States and AU-IBAR.

Adoption of the Communiqué

The communique was adopted by the meeting.