The Expert Consultation re-affirmed that transboundary livestock diseases have very serious economic and international trade consequences for countries, but concluded that the importance of such diseases extends far beyond this. Indeed the main conclusion of the Expert Consultation was that transboundary livestock diseases pose a serious threat to world food security through their capacity to spread very rapidly in plague proportions and cause critical shortfalls in the production of milk, meat and other animal derived human foodstuffs.
It therefore recommended that the importance for food security of minimising the impact of transboundary livestock diseases, through enhanced emergency preparedness together with well coordinated national, regional and global control and eradication programmes should be brought to the attention of The World Food Summit, emphasizing the critical importance of the Global Rinderpest Eradication Programme.
Rinderpest is a disease which has caused catastrophic losses of cattle and buffaloes in the past and has the potential to do so again. The Expert Consultation recommended that the coordination of the Global Rinderpest Eradication Programme should remain the main focus for the EMPRES-livestock programme. This disease was also the subject of a Technical Consultation (‘The World Without Rinderpest’) earlier in the week, at which all aspects of rinderpest eradication were discussed.
A key outcome of these Consultations was the development and adoption of a technical blueprint for the global eradication of rinderpest by the year 2010. Indeed a timetable has been set for the eradication of rinderpest and for international certification of freedom from infection in all relevant countries which may allow the process of global certification of rinderpest freedom to be initiated up to three years earlier. Several rinderpest problem areas have been identified in Africa and Asia which will require special attention in the next few years. For these goals to be met, an essential prerequisite will be for all countries to cease routine mass vaccination and proceed to eradication campaigns which will involve intensive surveillance for the disease and the capacity to respond rapidly to any breakdowns. It will also be essential that countries rigorously follow the established international rules for proof of freedom from the virus (the OIE pathway'). The Expert Consultation considers that there is merit in the concept of regional certification adopted by WHO in its poliomyelitis eradication programme. The Expert Consultation recommended that this, and other certification issues be taken up by FAO with OIE.
The global eradication of rinderpest, the first such elimination of a major livestock disease, will be a landmark achievement for mankind. FAO will be able to take justifiable pride in its key role in its accomplishment just as WHO has for the elimination of smallpox.
The Expert Consultation also considered future goals and strategies for the other identified EMPRES high priority diseases. Concern was expressed at the continuing spread of contagious bovine pleuropneumonia (CBPP) in Africa and for the high production losses it is causing. It was recommended that this should be the next disease in the pipeline for a global eradication campaign but cautioned against starting this before the completion of the rinderpest campaign. In respect to foot-and-mouth disease, the Expert Consultation believes that global eradication cannot be contemplated at this stage, but that there are good prospects for national and regional eradication in some areas. The excellent progress towards eradication of FMD from South America was noted as was the development of plans for regional eradication in South-East Asia.
For the other EMPRES priority diseases (Rift Valley fever and lumpy skin disease), the Expert Consultation considered that EMPRES should undertake a more tactical role, stressing early warning and early reaction. It was also recommended that EMPRES should extend such a tactical role to other emergency and/or emerging diseases. The definition of different categories of such diseases were provided.
The Expert Consultation reaffirmed the importance of the core elements of global early warning and early reaction in the EMPRES programme and defined programmes on these to be implemented at national, regional and global levels. Thus it was recommended that the mission for the animal diseases component of EMPRES should be defined as:
To promote the effective containment and control of the most serious epidemic livestock diseases as well as newly emerging diseases by progressive elimination on a regional and global basis through international co-operation involving EARLY WARNING, EARLY/RAPID REACTION, ENABLING RESEARCH, and COORDINATION.
The Expert Consultation expressed grave concern at the lack of resources that are currently available within the EMPRES-livestock Group of AGAH to adequately service its vital programmes. Unless this is immediately rectified, their success, including that of the global rinderpest eradication programme, will be jeopardised.
Therefore the Expert consultation recommended FAO to seek additional resources to establish the following:
A Contingency Fund (as an international trust fund) to allow quicker and better responses to EMPRES high priority diseases,
A strengthened EMPRES Group at FAO Headquarters with provision of two extra positions:
an experienced veterinary epidemiologist to set up the EMPRES-Global Early Warning System (P5)
a communications (incorporating training) specialist (P4)
Regional EMPRES capability through three Regional EMPRES units to service Africa; the Near East and Central Asia; and South-East and South Asia.