In 2008, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), in collaboration with the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), and the General Organization of Veterinary Services (GOVS), launched the Participatory Disease Surveillance (PDS) program. The initiative was meant to contribute to the strengthening of the national capacity for A/H5N1 detection and reporting in the household poultry production sector through community participation.
In Egypt, about 5-7 million households are engaged in backyard/household poultry production which constitute the basis for their livelihoods. A significant portion of A/H5N1 human cases is reported in this sector where biosecurity measures are poorly implemented.
The scope of the PDS program was later modified to include risk communication functions and outbreak investigation. As a result, the program was appropriately renamed as ‘community-based animal health outreach’ (CAHO). The program uses participatory methods, including semi-structured individual/group interviews and other techniques to detect and report on HPAI cases.
A range of stakeholders participate in the CAHO program, among them are small-scale poultry producers, village key informants (community leaders, small, private veterinary service providers) and public sector officials.
Currently, the CAHO program covers 15 Governorates and has managed, so far, to involve about 108 veterinary practitioners. Since its inception, CAHO has proven to be a robust HPAI surveillance tool in Egypt. Since October 2010, in an attempt to ensure the sustainability of the program, GOVS has taken measures to fully integrated CAHO into the national veterinary services.
CAHO has significantly contributed to number of the reported HPAI cases over the years. In 2011-12, when the overall surveillance system was slowed down due to the socio-political situation in the country, CAHO has provided over 60% of the reported HPAI outbreaks cases. Available data strongly prove that CAHO is a successful and effective disease surveillance and reporting tool in Egypt.
In recent months (2012), CAHO practitioners were mobilized to assist in the containment of the food-and-mouth (FMD) epidemics (due to a new SAT2 strain) in Egypt. Encouraged with the performance of CAHO practitioners in A/HPAI surveillance, GOVS is considering to replicate the program for the control of other high impact livestock diseases in the country.
FAO, ILRI and GOVS published ‘A manual for practitioners in community - based animal health outreach (CAHO) for highly pathogenic avian influenza and is available both in English and Arabic.
(see link: http://www.fao.org/docrep/014/i1799e/i1799e00.pdf