A conference report from Cuba (ICAHS2)
Cuba was very beautiful place to visit and the Cubans are easy going and have a good sense of humour, but we didn't see too much of the country as the ICAHS conference was quite intensive with talks running from 8.30 am to 6.30 pm every day. The talk topics were a real mix, including in-depth comparisons of data analysis techniques, optimising surveillance designs, novel use of mobile phones for data collection in resource-challenged environments, using social media to collected data, frameworks for syndromic classification, surveillance across the animal health – public health interface and much more.
SAVSNETT contributed to ICAHS with an oral presentation and a poster showing a novel approach for data collection from small animal practices and describing how SAVSNET data gathered from participating veterinary practices and labs provides for a coordinated flexible methodology for disease surveillance in companion animals. Interestingly, the SAVSNET contributions were the only works presented at ICAHS in representation of the health surveillance in companion animals. Feedback from the presentation and poster was very positive. We think both the format and message was well received and our small representation in ICAHS<sup>2</sup> created quite an impact at the conference. We were also approached and engaged by quite senior figures attending the conference and the buzz created after the presentation made the effort worthwhile. SAVSNET was also invited to participate in a post-conference workshop to discuss the idea of standardising syndromic classification in animal health data (SSynCAHD). This workshop was very positive and offered us new opportunities for future collaborations with other colleagues working in both animal and public health surveillance. Overall our project has some nice features that other surveillance systems presented have yet still to solve. These include the real time aspects of data collection and the ability to disseminate information to front line practitioners. Also, that the next steps in terms of automatic warning systems and data analysis is already being tackled in a variety of forms which could be useful reference points. We really enjoyed the format of the oral presentations with consecutive non-parallel talks, meaning that everyone was able to attend every talk of the conference and also that the SAVSNET talk was very well attended. For posters, authors were able to select the times in which they would be available at their poster, thus anyone interested could come and ask them questions during the time specified.
We think it was important that SAVSNET is represented in this conference which runs every three years and we think that for ICAHS3 there would be particular interest in seeing the farm animal version of SAVSNET.
Fernando and Tarek