The OIE Rinderpest Challenge: the winners

The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) has officially closed the OIE Rinderpest Challenge. For the duration of four weeks, players across the globe competitively diagnosed patients in order to find the outbreak of Rinderpest and win points for their country. On Nov 7th 2018, the OIE announced the winner country, as well as the player with the highest score from this country.

Paris, 7 November 2018 – Rinderpest is the first animal disease to have been declared eradicated by the OIE and the FAO but a resurgence is still possible. In the Rinderpest Vigilance Serious Game, the disease returns from the past and players must find the source of the outbreak. This past October, players from around the world participated in the OIE Rinderpest Challenge by playing the game to learn how to diagnose Rinderpest, how to handle potentially dangerous material in laboratories with caution, and to win points for their country.

The challenge lasted for four weeks between October 4th and November 1st and gathered over 1200 participants from 89 different countries.

Following the points displayed on the leaderboard at the close of the challenge, South Africa is the winning country with a total of 505 210 points. From all players in South Africa, player Muhammed Haroun Moola gained the highest score with a total of 223 420 points. Muhammed Moola is a fourth-year veterinary student at the University of Pretoria and will be invited to attend the 87th OIE General Session in May 2019. South Africa will be recognised at the OIE General Session for its strong participation in the game and collective efforts to learn about rinderpest. All players from South Africa will receive a certificate from the OIE Director General, Dr. Monique Eloit, recognising their involvement in the challenge.

Many countries scored high amounts of points by the end of the challenge and the final score was very close with India winning 497560 points and the United States winning 299570 points.

The Rinderpest Game was developed as part of the OIE “Never Turn Back” campaign on rinderpest and was produced with support from the WMD Threat Reduction Program, Global Affairs Canada, and partners. It is interesting to note that the emblematic historical photo of rinderpest eradication, which was used in both the game and the campaign, was taken in South Africa in 1896, documenting the efforts of the country to stop the advances of rinderpest at the time. With this, it seems fitting that South Africa has won the OIE Rinderpest Challenge and is committed to keeping the world free of rinderpest.

In the post-eradication era of the disease, it is crucial for countries to collaborate and for key players to work together to ensure that the disease remains obsolete. In this regard, key players, especially within the field of veterinary education, are encouraged to continue to play the game and to learn about the disease in order to keep the memory of rinderpest alive. The OIE Rinderpest Challenge served as an example of how single players can work together to achieve a collective goal.