Capacity building and surveillance for viral haemorrhagic fevers - EBO-SURSY Project

The project aims to strengthen early detection systems for wildlife in West and Central Africa to prevent outbreaks of Ebola virus disease (EVD) and four other viral haemorrhagic fevers: Marburg virus, Rift Valley Fever, Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever, and Lassa fever. These five viruses are zoonoses, or diseases that are present in animals and that can be transmitted to humans in what is known as a spillover event.

Given the complex nature of these illnesses, a ‘One Health‘ approach – coordinated between animal, human and environmental health stakeholders – is needed to facilitate information sharing and ensure that project activities contribute to a multi-sectoral and comprehensive response.

Seeking to enhance understanding of the wildlife reservoirs of the Ebola virus, which have yet to be officially determined, as well as the capacities of health actors to monitor it and the four other priority diseases, the project is providing technical capacity building support for the surveillance of zoonoses, including working directly with national Veterinary Services and laboratories as well as national universities and research institutions to enhance training opportunities for veterinarians, para-veterinarians, and laboratory technicians.

Improving compliance with and implementation of surveillance protocols and increasing community engagement are both essential to decreasing the risk of transmission from animals to humans and effectively preventing and controlling EVD and other zoonotic disease outbreaks.

The Goal

The vision of the project is to better understand (if not determine) the natural cycle of the Ebola virus, while working at the local and national levels to enhance technical expertise and strengthen wildlife surveillance systems. The main goal is to reinforce national and regional wildlife early disease detection systems in West and Central Africa using a “One Health” approach to support ten countries – Cameroun, the Central African Republic (CAR), Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Gabon, Guinea, Liberia, Republic of the Congo, Senegal and Sierra Leone – to better detect, differentiate and prevent EVD outbreaks and those caused by (re-)emerging zoonotic pathogens such as Marburg Virus, Rift Valley Fever, Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic fever, and Lassa Fever. These efforts are supported by activities to build and expand sustainable, community-based disease surveillance systems as well as the capacity of participating countries to comply with international protocols, particularly with OIE International Standards and World Health Organization (WHO) guidance and International Health Regulations.

The Project

With EUR 8 million in support from the European Union (EU), the five-year project ‘EBO-SURSY’ (Ebola Surveillance Systems) was launched by the OIE on 15 January 2017.

Project Objectives

EBO-SURSY focuses on the following three objectives:

  • Building institutional and “One Health” capacity through teaching and training
  • Contributing to increasing community awareness of zoonotic diseases
  • Reinforcing zoonotic disease surveillance protocols through field investigations and improved diagnostic assays
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    Target countries

    Priority Countries

    EBO-SURSY targets ten priority countries in West and Central Africa – Cameroun, the Central African Republic (CAR), Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Gabon, Guinea, Liberia, Republic of the Congo, Senegal and Sierra Leone.

    Following a joint conference organised by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)OIEthe West African Health Organization (WAHO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) in November 2016, some of the project’s target countries have embarked on a process to formally establish regional and national One Health platforms. Countries affected by EVD and other zoonoses (including neglected tropical diseases and vaccine preventable diseases) are continuously enhancing their human and animal health surveillance systems. These countries have requested and are participating in the OIE’s Performance of Veterinary Services (PVS) Pathway, a global programme for the sustainable improvement of a country's Veterinary Services' compliance with OIE international Standards, demonstrating their long-term commitment to building integrated health systems.

    The OIE’s work on the EBO-SURSY project is made possible by a close, collaborative relationship with its partners: Le Centre de coopération internationale en recherche agronomique pour le développement (CIRAD)Institut de recherche pour le développement (IRD) and Institut Pasteur. With access to local, regional and global transdisciplinary and scientific networks as well as longstanding relationships with local stakeholders in the target countries, OIE’s partners bring decades of experience in the prevention and control of zoonoses to the project. All three are notable for their commitment to strengthening the veterinary services of target countries as well as their biomedical capacities and first-hand knowledge of the impact of infectious diseases on animal and public health.