How do you contribute to SAFOSO? Describe your role at SAFOSO.
I support various projects within SAFOSO as a junior consultant. Due to my work with different team members, I gain exposure to a wide range of topics. My background as a veterinarian and my special interest in epidemiology and animal husbandry helps me in my work. The work is very diverse and consists of applied research, translational science, capacity development or information technology.
What are you currently working on?
I am currently mainly working on two FMD projects. One is about the need for a paradigm shift in the perception of the FMD-free with vaccination status and the other one is about a capacity assessment for the establishment of a disease control zone for Foot and Mouth disease in Pakistan. In addition, I am working with Ukrainian colleagues and national authorities to revise some aspects of the current legislation on animal product imports. Further, I am also an active member of two European COST actions, one related to risk-based meat inspection (RIBMINS) and the other to farm level biosecurity (BETTER), in which specialists discuss the present scenario and potential directions for the fields in focus.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges in animal health?
In a post-COVID-19 pandemic world, I believe that Avian Influenza (AI) is currently the most serious animal health concern. The reason for this is of the recent loss of seasonality of AI in Europe, the growing number of mammalian species affected, and the associated increased risk that the virus jumps to humans.
Antimicrobial resistance is another major issue. Despite stewardship efforts made in the most developed parts of the world, AMR always needs to be viewed as a global One Health challenge. Bacteria are not confined by geographical boundaries or species.
Lastly, I would like to mention African Swine Fever. As the world waits for an effective vaccine, prevention of viral dispersion into farms is of main concern. Therefore, biosecurity is a key effort. Especially, given that the vast majority of the world's pig population is being contained in affected areas, ASF is a continued tremendous threat for the global pig population.
What inspires you to come to work every day?
It gives me great satisfaction to contribute to the advancement of livestock sectors around the world. Either by developing technological solutions to make farmers' lives easier, assisting authorities in updating legislation, or progressing disease control. All these activities boost livestock sectors' competitiveness and their overall economic sustainability.
What skills are critical for success in your role?
Communication with my colleagues and clients is critical to completing my tasks efficiently. It is important to clearly understand their perspectives and needs. Given the wide range of tasks, our skill sets must be diverse, and we must always be prepared to learn a new topic or methodology. Science communication, whether written or oral, is an important aspect of my work. Being able to communicate with stakeholders at various levels of expertise has a significant impact on how our work is received and, ultimately, on their engagement and translation into action.
What has been a highlight in your work for SAFOSO?
Once sufficient scientific evidence has been gathered to support a specific claim, it is extremely rewarding to disseminate this knowledge to the general public in order to support both considerable and small shifts in the perception of topics related to public health or livestock production.
It is always gratifying to raise societal awareness about critical issues such as COVID-19 and antimicrobial resistance. I believe that the public is interested in learning more about these subjects. However, it is often difficult for the general public to navigate through all the available information. Therefore, it is a pleasure to regularly engage the public in the discussion of critical public health issues through our platforms.
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