Fighting hunger is not only about producing more food. It also means protecting livestock from diseases and preventing them from spreading across borders.
That's why in 1994, FAO established the Emergency Prevention System for Transboundary Animal and Plant Pests and Diseases, or EMPRES.
FAO’s EMPRES-Livestock programme continues to play a major role in the fight against persisting and/or spreading transboundary animal diseases at a global level, with emphasis on developing countries.
A key component of EMPRES is the Global Rinderpest Eradication Programme (GREP). Under the programme, large tracts of Asia and Africa were freed from rinderpest (RP). The world’s last confirmed case of RP was seen in 2001 in the Somali ecosystem.
Following a series of exhaustive searches for the RP virus worldwide, FAO announced the end of rinderpest field activities in October 2010. Remaining epidemiological evidence was submitted to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) for consideration and formal recognition of RP free status (OIE 79th general session, Paris, 22-27 May 2011).
Recognition of countries’ disease-free status paves the way for a formal declaration of global freedom from rinderpest at FAO Headquarters on 28 June 2011.
On 27 June, an international expert meeting at FAO Headquarters will focus on taking action to review and ensure sequestration of all remaining infectious rinderpest virus samples, and developing a contingency plan for unexpected outbreaks. Priority will be placed on ongoing disease surveillance, continued training, and communication by countries to FAO and OIE of any suspicious cases.