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The participants in the ITP310 project collaborate and learn from each other to improve animal health and food safety in seven African countries. Photo: Jonas Förare/SVA.

Anthrax is reduced through an exchange project

Last updated : 0001-01-01

In the international program Healthy Livestock – Safe Food (ITP310), collaborations and projects are undertaken to save the lives of both animals and humans. By improving working methods and influencing attitudes, the impact of diseases such as anthrax can be mitigated.

At the end of May, a fifth group of 25 participants from East and Southern Africa arrived for training and exchange of experiences in animal health and food safety. These participants represent various expert areas within the food sector, focusing on food-producing animals. The program covers different working methods, primarily emphasizing biosecurity, preventive animal health practices, and hygiene to improve animal health, animal welfare, and food safety. Over the six years the program has been running, participants have implemented more than one hundred local change projects that affect the health of both animals and humans. Jonas Johansson Wensman leads the program at SVA and has witnessed its development.

– You become humble when the participants share the results and impact they achieve in their home countries. Through their projects, interventions are carried out where improved working methods directly impact the lives of many people,” says Jonas Johansson Wensman.

The projects are carried out with the help of both local and Swedish mentors, and the learning is mutual.

– In Sweden, we are fortunate to rarely experience outbreaks of serious diseases such as anthrax. Discussing such a disease with those who face it in their daily lives gives us insights we can apply to our work here in Sweden. It is an incredibly rewarding exchange of knowledge that we hope to continue," says Jonas Johansson Wensman

Preventing is better than cure

Ines Machelle is a veterinarian working as a wildlife veterinarian in Tanzania's national parks. Photo: Jonas Förare/SVA.

Ines Machelle is a veterinarian working as a wildlife veterinarian in Tanzania's national parks. She is particularly interested in the human, livestock, and wildlife interface. Her gained knowledge has made it possible to implement effective monitoring systems, including biosecurity protocols.  

– The ITP program has given me better knowledge to monitor and manage animal diseases, which is crucial for early detection and handling of diseases that can spread from animals to humans. Early detection of diseases like anthrax is essential to stop the spread of the infection. We can respond quickly to an outbreak and take the right measures. This reduces the risk of zoonoses, diseases that can be transmitted between animals and humans," says Ines Machelle.

Building trust among the local people and understanding their needs and concerns is essential for success. She has taken her project from concept to implementation by creating community engagement that involves local communities in the design and implementation of disease control measures

– The mentorship of the programme and working together with other participants in the programme have been crucial for my development, for example communicating effectively to solve complex problems, thinking outside the box, and finding new approaches. When I apply these skills, I accomplish real change," says Ines Machelle

Changes in knowledge, attitudes, and behaviour in the short and long term are assessed through interviews with people living near the national parks. Indicators include vaccination rates, community engagement and incidence of anthrax in risk areas

– In the longer term, the importance of preventive measures, such as vaccination campaigns, is crucial. Prevention is better than cure," concludes Ines Machelle.

Changing attitudes towards vaccination is the key

Stephen Tembo is the Provincial Veterinary Officer for Western Province in Zambia. Photo: Jonas Förare/SVA.

Stephen Tembo is the Provincial Veterinary Officer for Western Province in Zambia, and specialized in tropical animal diseases. He argues that human risk behaviours affect the survival of animals, the environment, and can seriously affect human health.

– The ITP program has enabled me to introduce methods that modify risky behaviours that contributes to the spread of anthrax from animals to humans, or facilitate the persistence of anthrax in the environment. With these new tools, I have focused on shifting attitudes among farmers and consumers, for example to avoid consuming meat from animals that have died from unknown causes. Additionally, I have succeeded to encourage more farmers to vaccinate their animals against anthrax," explains Stephen Tembo.

Stephen can measure the impact of his project through the incidence of anthrax in animals and humans and by comparing the number of animals vaccinated between 2023 and 2024.

– One of the most positive outcomes for me has been networking with participants from other countries. From them, I have gained insights into how collaboration between authorities and stakeholders in the food value chain can be enhanced. I have also improved on disseminating information about anthrax, through brochures and participation in radio broadcasts, concludes Stephen Tembo.

About International Training Programmes (ITP)

The international capacity development programme aims to strengthen organizations and institutions for more legal certainty, transparency, efficiency, and democratic governance in low- and middle-income countries. Participants in this ITP come from seven countries: Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. This year, participants visited the four agencies responsible for the program: the Swedish Veterinary Agency (SVA), the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), the Swedish Food Agency (Livsmedelsverket), and the Swedish Board of Agriculture (Jordbruksverket). Sida, the Swedish international development cooperation agency, funds the program, and an extension of the program is currently being prepared.


Jonas Johansson Wensman

Associate Professor

Porträtt av Jonas Johansson Wensman

Photo: Jonas Förare/SVA

Emelie Pettersson