Events, Disease Outbreak, Show Need for International Collaboration in Animal Disease Control
Peter Luethi, Biovision Foundation
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Two recent events underlined the importance of global efforts to control animal diseases for achieving the SDGs.

Participants at the Global Conference on Peste des Petits Ruminants reconfirmed their commitment to collaborate internationally to eradicate the disease, which affects small ruminants such as sheep and goats.

The conference coincided with an emergency regional consultation called to address an outbreak of African Swine Fever in Asia.

7 September 2018: The importance of addressing animal diseases for achieving the SDGs was recently underlined by an international conference to support the eradication of a disease affecting goats and sheep coinciding with an emergency meeting to discuss measures to prevent the spread of African Swine Fever in Asian countries after an outbreak of the disease in China.

Animal diseases can adversely affect several SDGs. Some diseases, such as avian influenza, can directly affect human health (SDG 3). Many others can kill entire herds of livestock, affecting local food security (SDG 2), and destroying the livelihoods of livestock keepers and pastoralists undermining efforts in poverty reduction (SDG 1), building resilience of poor rural communities to climate change (SDG 13), and reducing migration and conflict (SDG 16).

Attempting to eradicate virus-borne livestock diseases through internationally coordinated vaccination campaigns and control efforts can be an effective strategy to eliminate the impact of livestock diseases. In 2011, the international community succeeded in eradicating Rinderpest, one of the deadliest livestock plagues, making it the second virus-borne disease ever eliminated globally after the eradication Smallpox in 1980.

At an international conference, organized by the World Organization of Animal Health (OIE) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), countries now reconfirmed their commitment to eradicate another livestock disease known as Peste des petits ruminants (PPR). PPR affects small ruminants such as sheep and goats, causing an estimated US$2.1 billion of economic losses per year affecting some of the poorest populations in rural Africa, Near and Middle East and Asia. In 2015, the international community adopted the FAO-OIE PPR Global Control and Eradication Strategy with the objective to first reduce the prevalence of PPR in affected countries followed by its eradication. Under the Strategy, affected countries with PPR presence adopted the 2017-2021 PPR Global Eradication Programme, and developed National Strategic Plans outlining steps to assess, control and eradicate the disease, and estimating the financial resources required to do so.

Controlling and eventually eradicating PPR means fighting rural poverty, ensuring food security and nutrition, and strengthening resilience and national economies and is also in line with the SDGs.

According to OIE and FAO, the PPR Global Eradication Programme faces a US$340 million funding gap to implement countries’ National Strategic Plans. The FAO-OIE Global Conference in PPR provided a forum for governments to refresh their commitment to eradicating PPR, and for resource partners to confirm their support for the implementation of the PPR Global Eradication Programme. In a Ministerial Declaration, more than 45 countries affected by the disease “underlined that that controlling and eventually eradicating PPR means fighting rural poverty, ensuring food security and nutrition, and strengthening resilience and national economies and is also in line with the SDGs.”

The importance of efforts to control animal diseases was underlined by news about a rapidly spreading outbreak of African Swine Fever in China and other Asian countries. In contrast to PPR, there is no effective vaccine to protect swine from the disease which often kills 100% of affected populations. FAO’s Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD) is working with the China’s Ministry of Agriculture to contain the outbreak and implement contingency plans to prevent the spread to other countries. FAO has also warned that the disease will most likely emerge in other countries in the region because of international movements of live swine and pork. The organization also held an emergency meeting to develop a regional approach to ASF risk reduction, preparedness and response and identify priority actions.

The FAO-OIE Global Conference on PPR was held 6-7 September in Brussels, Belgium. The ASF Regional Consultation on ASF Risk Reduction and Preparedness was held 5-7 September 2018 in Bangkok, Thailand. [OIE-FAO Joint Press Release on PPR] [Global Conference on PPR Website] [Global Strategy for the Control and Eradication of PPR] [PPR Global Eradication Programme 2017-2021] [Background on PPR] [FAO Press Release on ASF Outbreak] [FAO Press Release on ASF Warning] [FAO Press Release on ASF Emergency Meeting]

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