Veterinarians supported for improved response to zoonotic diseases
In September 2020, international experts conducted trainings and workshops for the Veterinary Service Department (VSD) in Abkhazia on coordinated disease response and the organization of vaccination campaigns for rabies, brucellosis and poultry diseases, within the framework of the project “Promoting integrated approaches to animal health and plant protection in Abkhazia” as funded by the Austrian Development Cooperation (ADC) and implemented by Action Against Hunger.
The two separate trainings were conducted by Dr. Alexander Dodovski and Dr. Igor Djadjovski of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at Ss. Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje, North Macedonia. Both experts have been involved with this project from its early days and have previously consulted with the VSD and held in-person workshops/trainings in Abkhazia. Under normal circumstances these trainings would have taken place face-to-face but due to the current pandemic situation they were conducted online; the consultants leading the training over Zoom from their respective workplaces in Skopje, while the veterinarians were seated together (observing physical distancing according to Covid-19 guidelines), in the conference room of the Hotel Inter-Sukhum in Abkhazia.
The first of these trainings, held by Dr. Dodovski, consisted of sessions on diseases related to poultry health management including Newcastle disease, infectious laryngotracheitis, infectious bronchitis, fowl cholera, Coccidiosis, and poultry parasites. The head of the VSD, Roman Jopua, explained that poultry farming for a household’s own consumption is a common practice in rural Abkhazia but in recent times raising poultry for commercial purposes has become more widespread. Farmers sought support from the VSD in the treatment of their poultry due to the increased number of birds being raised - “But we didn’t have the right information about some specific disease treatment, and we couldn’t provide the necessary guidance,” said Roman Jopua. It was on this basis that the VSD requested the assistance of Action Against Hunger in providing training to enhance their capacity in this area. As Dr. Dodovski said, “Obviously, these diseases represent a significant threat to poultry health and production from the farmer’s perspective, and clinical, diagnostical and epidemiological challenges as far as the veterinarians are concerned”.
Later in September, Dr. Djajdovski led workshops on preventative measures and vaccination against rabies and brucellosis in livestock, two zoonotic diseases which remain a significant problem for farmers and the public alike. The training, which was a mix of theory and more practical, interactive elements, concluded with the vets working together to develop and review response plans to better deal with these challenges within the local context. Through the shared expertise and guidance of Dr. Djadjovski and Dr. Dodovski concerning the prevention and treatment of livestock and poultry diseases, the VSD of Abkhazia is now better equipped to respond to outbreaks.
The ADC-funded project has been ongoing since 2018 and is providing the VSD with technical equipment and guidance from international experts to improve animal health management in Abkhazia.