Within the field of animal health & food safety, we provide services in consultancy, capacity-building and research. But what do we actually do? Below are some examples. Do you have a similar requirement? Or are you unsure whether our services fit your needs? In either case, please contact us.
Fighting the battle against antimicrobial resistance is one of the important battles of the present time to safeguard the progress that has been made in medical and veterinary medicine. SAFOSO is actively contributing to this work, through our services in consultancy, research and capacity building. We have co-authored several national and international reports that summarize available knowledge and identify knowledge gaps, for example on behalf of the Swiss government. Our research projects generate new insights into mechanisms for reduction of AMR, for example by identifying alternatives for antimicrobial usage [link]. And we support scientists from other countries by strengthening their skills in science writing, to promote publication of results on AMR studies from non-Western countries [link].
Foot and mouth disease is an animal disease with severe implications for animal welfare and trade of animals and animal products. Costs of disease outbreaks can be very substantial. Therefore, countries are increasingly interested in developing and implementing comprehensive control strategies and conducting sound surveillance activities for FMD. We have not only supported countries in developing their national FMD control strategy, taking into account available national capacities and resources, but also supported them in identifying and reviewing implementation modalities of individual control measures [link]. Our expertise also allows us to help design sound FMD surveillance programs or perform impact assessments, for example to demonstrate the impact of FMD in an endemic setting [link].
Surveillance is an indispensable tool to provide data about disease occurrence, to support decisions in disease & hazard management, and/or to demonstrate absence of a disease. Working with our clients, we develop surveillance systems which match their needs and capacities. For example, we have helped develop a surveillance programme to demonstrate freedom from FMD infection in a nomadic livestock population. But we also contribute to developing new surveillance tools and techniques, such as through our Risksur and SANTERO projects. Taking economic efficiency into account is a given when we work on surveillance systems.
We examine and recommend options for disease control and biosecurity in a given situation and we train people to develop and implement comprehensive disease control and biosecurity strategies. This can include high-level activities such as strategy development and prioritization of disease control activities, but can also involve identification of practical implementation modalities for a specific disease control or biosecurity measure. We always take epidemiological as well as economic considerations into account. For example, we have trained veterinary services in all aspects of comprehensive BSE control and prevention [link], just as we have supported countries in developing their national FMD control strategy. [link] We also offer to evaluate disease control and biosecurity strategies that others have developed or implemented.
Since its introduction into Europe in 2007, African swine fever is a constant threat for the pig and wild boar population in Europe. SAFOSO is actively engaged in strengthening the resilience of the veterinary systems in Europe and beyond to recognize and respond to outbreaks of ASF in an adequate and timely manner. For example, we were partner in the research consortium ASForce, in which we were responsible for the development and implementation of awareness and training activities targeting among other field veterinarians, hunters and people active in the pig industry. We also contributed to an outreach program in Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia and Kazakhstan, in which we supported the countries in the development and roll-out of tailored awareness raising campaigns [link].
We contribute to the systematic evaluation of projects, programmes and policies. Our role is typically related to the assessment of technical and economic aspects. This includes stakeholder interviews, workshops, and document reviews. For example, we have assessed the critical success factors for implementation of an animal health information system [link] and we have evaluated early warning systems of a veterinary service [link]. We adhere to national and/or international evaluation standards as applicable.
We conduct risk assessments and also train clients in how to conduct them. For example, we have assessed the risk of including specific animal materials in pharmaceutical or agricultural products [link]. And we have trained national veterinary services to evaluate the risk of the introduction and spread of diseases in their own countries [link]. Further, we support clients in using results of a risk assessment for the development of risk-based inspection or surveillance plans to allow for optimal use of limited resources and capacities.
Transferring knowledge from science to application is close to our hearts. As part of many of our projects, we have organized and lead webinars, policy roundtables and workshops for different topics and audiences around the world. We have also developed dissemination materials to reach a wider audience, including for example a video about African swine fever. We also manage and disseminate technical knowledge for organizations that do not have their own human resources and/or technical expertise. We even handle their routine administrative tasks, so we actually ‘run the show’ for them. A current example is the TAFS forum.
We believe that sustainable gains in food safety and animal health around the globe can only be achieved if the institutional and technical capacities of the food safety and veterinary organizations are brought to new levels. In many countries, external technical assistance is necessary to achieve such improvements. We also believe that sustainable improvements cannot be achieved by simply telling people what to do, but require a close cooperation between external and national experts to identify and implement tailor-made solutions for the situation specific to a country. These believes are driving our technical assistance projects. Among others, we have helped strengthen the capacities of the Mongolian veterinary services [link], are supporting food safety services in the Western Balkan region to develop and implement risk-based border inspections [link] and are contributing to the development of a risk-based inspection system in the dairy value chain in Ukraine [link].
We strive to be able to provide our clients with the latest available knowledge. And we like contributing to resolving tricky issues. Therefore we actively engage in national and international research projects. For example, we were partner in the research project SANTERO, which aimed to promote enhancement of risk-based surveillance methods. We also contributed to the project SPARE, in which we helped develop a new framework for spatial risk assessment for exotic disease incursion and spread through Europe. We also make sure that we do not neglect the economic aspects of disease control and surveillance. For example, we developed a framework for economic evaluation of One Health surveillance activities and validated it through case studies [link]. In addition to conducting research ourselves, we also often support research consortia with our expertise in knowledge dissemination. SAFOSO is an officially recognized SME (small/medium enterprise) and thus eligible for research consortia that need to include private partners – which is the case more and more often.
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