FAO spearheaded the organisation of the first Rinderpest Regional Tabletop Exercise to test the plan with the collaboration of the OIE and AU-IBAR. This event, supported through the contributions made by (the ministry of) Global Affairs Canada, aimed at making the GRAP operational, finding gaps and improvement opportunities, and increasing the awareness on rinderpest preparedness among participating African countries. African Union Scientific and Technical Offices, the Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources – IBAR, and the Pan-African Veterinary Vaccine Centre – PANVAC also took part in the meeting, as well as the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD).
The six participating countries – the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique and South Sudan – engaged in an exercise that simulated an outbreak of rinderpest in a fictitious country in Africa and the evolution of this outbreak as new injects of information were released. This exercise was divided in four modules: detection, immediate response, protracted response, and recovery, in which the participants were separated into roleplaying workgroups representing the infected country, the neighbouring countries or the relevant international organisations.
Besides contributing to keeping rinderpest awareness on the agenda of participating countries, the exercise added value to countries’ disease preparedness strategies. Each country had the opportunity to review its national contingency plan with one of the facilitators and to draft an improvement strategy and timeline for its completion.