The Philippine Animal Health Information System (Phil-AHIS) is an integrated system designed to enhance the animal health and management capability of the country by providing standard, timely and improved quality information through the use of automatic data generation. The Phil-AHIS program requires minimal personnel to manage the data from the local government and regional offices through an integrated reporting system that will ensure prompt availability of data for managers and allow policy makers to prioritize resources, based on the real time or updated field information at hand.
The system is composed of three components:
The main goal of Philippine Animal Health Information System is to modernize and systematize the procedure and protocol of data gathering, linkages, and submission of reports through Information Technology. By developing a conceptual framework designed to modernize the animal health and management capability of the country by providing standard, timely and improved quality information through the use of Relational Database Management System (RDMS) for data storage and report generation.
The birth of the Philippine Animal Health Information System or Phil-AHIS as it is widely known today, started during the latter part of the Foot and Mouth Disease Eradication Program where the FMD-Information Management System or FMD-IMS was migratedfrom DOS base programming platform, to its current program, and expanded to include all diseases being monitored by the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI). It evolvedinto a functional system that could extract all important data on disease monitoring, vaccination, and animal movement in case of an outbreak of any animal disease in the country.
The conceptual framework was designed to modernize and improve the country's animal health and management capability by providing standard, timely and improved quality information, through the use of a relational database management system for data storage and report generation.
This initiative first started as part of the FMD Project work plan intended to ensure sustainability of reporting, and ensuring the qualityof information from the field. With initial funding from the FMD Project supported by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), Regions I, III, VIII and XI were selected for pilot testing, debugging and enhancement.
The growing awareness on the relevance of the system, being critically significant in generating, managing and analyzing relevant information for disease prevention and control, as exemplified by the eventual eradication of FMD in the country, led to expanded utilization of government of the Philippines (GOP) fund of the FMD and Avian Influenza Prevention program. Thesedevelopments, and furthersupport of FAO to the initiative,seeing specific re-alignment of funds from theFMD Project with additional financial support through the FAO/New Zealand Avian Influenza Project (see graphs), only validated the importance of the initiative, and put needed emphasis on its relevance.The deployment of the system, initially developed without formal mandate and support from BAI, entered a different phase with the creation of the Information and Communication Technology Unit (ICTU) of BAI. This was preceded by the recognition of the Philippine Australia Human Resource Development Facility (PAHRDF) on the accomplishment of the Australian funded FMD Eradication Project, and the need to institutionalized parts of its activities as proposed by the project management team, which among others, included capacity development on BAI personnel. With the creation of BAI-ICTU, and appointment of key personnel from the FMD project management who are also involved in the Phil-AHIS initiative, further deployment of the system in Regions II, IVA, IVB, V, VI, VII, IX, X, XI, CAR and CARAGA, was proposed to the Livestock Development Council (LDC)as part of a National Livestock Population Survey (LPS). The LPS was proposed to complete the collection of all relevant information not includedin the previous initiative on Avian Population Survey (APS). The LPS was approved with specific funding for the expansion of Phil-AHIS to include other livestock agencies, in seeing a standard reporting core for the poultry and livestock industry. FAO, through the Sub-Regional Environmental Animal Health Management Initiative for enhanced smallholder production in south-East Asia funded by the Italian government supports the initiative by funding relevant trainings for regional and provincial veterinary offices during the year 2010 national roll-out of the system.
Training of Personnel
To ensure the turnout of the program, IT personnel from the regional and provincial levels were identified on the consideration that they have sufficient background in computer programming and that they should be permanent staff of the concerned office to ensure the sustainability of the program. The selected personnel were given hands on training on database management, server configuration set-up and system troubleshooting.
Another critical part of the program is the re-briefing of the livestock personnel (livestock inspectors and agricultural technicians) at the grassroots level of the revised form for animal health monitoring as they are the source of the primary information from the field. The preceding form was redesigned to complement the Phil-AHIS database and that re-orientation was facilitated to the LIs/ATs to avoid confusion as the system heavily relies on the data submitted.
The Phil-AHIS program is comprised of three (3) levels of trainings which involved FMD coordinators, technical staff in livestock and IT staff from the DARFU and LGUs (1st and 2nd level respectively) and livestock inspectors/ agriculture technicians in the concerned provinces and municipalities (3rd level).
The First Level Phil-AHIS Training is a two week intensive hands-on workshop intended for the IT personnel designated by the FMD Regional Coordinator as the Focal IT technician and one (1) veterinary staff to handle technical matters pertaining to animal health. The workshop covered topics pertaining to the introduction and setting up of the Phil-AHIS and involved the following activities:
Distribution of server units and desktop computers for the Provincial Veterinary Offices was facilitated after the training. Regional Focal IT personnel were tasked to set-up the said units in the PVOs of their areas of responsibility.
The Second Level Phil-AHIS Training was a two day hands-on workshop conducted among the designated provincial IT report officers and veterinary technical staff from the selected pilot regions for the introduction of the Phil-AHIS and involved topics pertaining to the familiarization of the system and data encoding with activities centered on:
Further, the designated Regional IT Focal personnel and regional veterinary technical staff were also invited to assist and guide the provincial IT and veterinary technical personnel in the conduct of the hands on workshops.
The 3rd Level Training on Phil-AHIS is part of a series of capability building activities for the institutionalization of the Philippine Animal Health Information System. This activity, conducted in the pilot areas of Region I, III, VIII and XI, focuses on the role of grassroots field personnel in the animal health reporting system of the BAI. The series of Level 3 Phil-AHIS meetings were conducted on a per province level with the designated livestock inspectors (LIs) for each municipality invited as the main participants.
This part of the workshop is the most important aspect of the program as the primary source of data would be coming from the reports coming from the field. Standardized forms (Animal Health Monitoring Form and the Vaccination Form) were created to cater to all the needs of both the national and local offices. Consultations were conducted among livestock inspectors/agriculture technicians to ensure that correctness and prompt submission of data is implemented. All the fields in the reporting sheet were thoroughly discussed to ensure that it is properly filled up.
A review of the basics of animal disease recognition was conducted to further assist the LIs in filling up the form. Discussed were the general principles of early diagnosis through identification of clinical signs. Diseases of Livestock and Poultry currently in the Bureau’s program were discussed from the clinical signs observed but limited to tentative diagnosis only.
A second module for the Phil-AHIS training was conducted among the Regional and Provincial IT focal technicians and veterinary technical staff, focusing on the protocol for GIS. Each participant was requested to bring the actual field data from their areas for them to appreciate the database system and its application in animal health monitoring and animal disease control. Topics included an overview of the Geographic Information System, use of Quantum GIS program, mapping out of point data from a Global Positioning System (GPS) and buffering and application exercises on GIS.
The Phil-AHIS standardized forms are submitted by the LIs to the PVO on a monthly basis. The reports are then encoded at the provincial level and the data is then submitted as an XML file to the DA RFU. The regional level then aggregates all data received from the provinces and then submits these data as an XML file to BAI. As each level has their own database system, all levels are capable of extracting and analyzing the data. Epidemiological tools such as GIS can be used in analyzing the data extracted from the system.