Information Communication Technology (ICT) has evolved to become the bedrock of the ‘new normal’, making it the most reliable means to get things done. Based on this reality, the livestock sector, especially in developing countries need not look further, but rather leverage these tools for real-time dissemination of information to livestock owners and the general public; also, to mitigate disease outbreak to keep the animal and human population free of infectious diseases.
The livestock industry in Nigeria is continuously growing despite the various threats and challenges that has bedevilled it in recent times. Of interest is the fact that a larger percentage of the livestock owners in Nigeria are smallholder farmers with very limited resources who also bear the heavier burden of these challenges, the most critical of which is the outbreak of infectious diseases1. This challenge is attributable to the enormous knowledge gap that exists among the livestock farmers1 as well as the lack of adequate disease surveillance network for the livestock population. Additionally, known challenges facing effective surveillance among the livestock population in developing countries include the slow turnaround time and feedback for action, inaccurate data aggregation, paper-based data collection, delayed result from diagnosis, high processing cost and very limited disease reporting2.
Livestock farmers and animal health workers are core players in the effective leverage of ICT tools for livestock disease surveillance. They form the first line of interaction for disease detection and reporting.³ Therefore, a well-informed community of actors in the livestock industry will have the right capacity to notify appropriate quarters and intervene in situations requiring prompt action.⁴
To effectively control epidemics, disease outbreaks must be detected and notified early. This requires the use of appropriate tools and methods of surveillance. Numerous software and applications have been developed for carrying out surveillance activities, although, there lies enormous potential in using the existing software, however, more attention should be given to developing them to meet the requirements of various field actors to ensure real-time disease surveillance. The increasing use of mobile phones and other portable data collection tools for disease surveillance in developing countries (e.g. Nigeria) has greatly improved the preparedness and response to the outbreak of diseases.⁵ To put this in perspective, well connected mobile devices for data collection will not only improve livestock disease surveillance, but it also serves as a more robust advantage of generally improving animal healthcare and extension services delivery to smallholder livestock farmers. ⁶
To champion this cause and promote behavioural change and acceptability of the use of ICT tools for disease surveillance, Community animal health workers (CAHWs) network across states can be leveraged by creating programmes that will provide incentives for them to engage with smallholder livestock farmers at the community level7. LIDISKI is a program that is using this approach to help the prevention and control of diseases among smallholder farmers.
Conclusively, the use of ICT tools for the surveillance of Livestock disease remains the single most viable approach to achieving a disease-free animal population globally as this will provide real-time data that informs needed action. Hence, it is important to equip the farmers and animal healthcare service providers with needed capacity, knowledge and resources for ICT-based surveillance. The EU-Funded Livestock disease surveillance knowledge integration (LIDISKI) project is a 4-year project focused on Integrating knowledge aggregated from actors in the animal health sector to provide tools and know-how to implement sustainable Surveillance and control strategies against Livestock Diseases.
For more information on the LIDISKI project, visit www.lidiski.org
- Sheikh Shubeena, Muneeba Shafi, Urfeya Mirza, SA Hamdani, Sanober Rasool and Beigh Yaqoob Amin. 2018. Journal of Entomology and Zoology Studies; 6(5): 2317-2320. http://www.entomoljournal.com/archives/2018/vol6issue5/PartAA/6-5-182-652.pdf
- Mtema Z, Changalucha J, Cleaveland S, Elias M, Ferguson HM, Halliday JEB, et al. (2016) Mobile Phones As Surveillance Tools: Implementing and Evaluating a Large-Scale Intersectoral Surveillance System for Rabies in Tanzania. PLoS Med 13(4): e1002002. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1002002
- Karimuribo ED, Mutagahywa E, Sindato C, Mboera L, Mwabukusi M, Kariuki Njenga M, Teesdale S, Olsen J, Rweyemamu M. A. 2017. Smartphone App (AfyaData) for Innovative One Health Disease Surveillance from Community to National Levels in Africa: Intervention in Disease Surveillance. JMIR Public Health Surveill;3(4):e94. https://publichealth.jmir.org/2017/4/e94.
- Raja, T. A., et al. 2017 “Information and Communication Technologies for Veterinary Sciences and Animal Husbandry in Jammu and Kashmir.” International Journal of Advanced Engineering Research and Science, vol. 4, no. 7.
- Biswajit Mohanty, Abrar Chughtai, Fethi Rabhi 2016. Use of Mobile Apps for epidemic surveillance and response – availability and gaps. E-ISSN: 2652-0036. University of New South Wales https://jglobalbiosecurity.com/articles/10.31646/gbio.39/
- Karimuribo, E.D., Batamuzi, E.K., Massawe, L.B. et al. 2016. Potential use of mobile phones in improving animal health service delivery in underserved rural areas: experience from Kilosa and Gairo districts in Tanzania. BMC Vet Res 12, 219. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12917-016-0860-z
- Tashrik Ahmed. 2019. Improving Disease Surveillance Programs in Liberia. Journal of John Hopkins Scholars. https://jscholarship.library.jhu.edu/bitstream/handle/1774.2/62045/AHMED-DISSERTATION-2019.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y