18 March 2014 - The occurrence of Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) and Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR) has been on the rise in the Near East and North Africa (NENA) region in the past years with important losses affecting livelihoods, food security and national economies. FMD and PPR are two of the most ubiquitous and contagious transboundary animal diseases (TADs) in NENA countries causing significant negative impact due to, amongst other reasons, reductions in animal productivity and costs associated with control and vaccination efforts
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in collaboration with the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) has been responding to the urgent need for sustainable control of FMD and PPR in developing countries recognizing that a concerted regional approach is key to fighting TADs. In this context, a 15-year programme was established in 2012 to combat the spread of FMD under the Global FMD Control Strategy including the NENA region. For PPR, FAO and OIE's long-term objective is to define progressive control and eradication roadmaps in the countires of the region.
Since outbreaks of the diseases have been recurrent in a number of NENA countries, FAO and OIE have organised a series of meetings and roadmap workshops in the region. A roadmap workshop is an important activity that aims to strengthen country engagement, harmonize efforts, monitor progress and jointly advocate support. In early March 2014, the latest Inter-regional Consultative Workshop on FMD and PPR took place in Amman, Jordan.
The main aims of this joint workshop were to: i) review the NENA countries' strategic plans to combat these diseases; ii) assist countries in preparing their national control programmes; and iii) assist countries in attracting funding to control the diseases. The workshop, attended by 58 participants from 19 nations, was facilitated and sponsored by FAO and OIE under the umbrella of the global framework of transboundary animal diseases (GF-TADs), and hosted by the Ministry of Agriculture of Jordan and the Jordan University of Technology and Sciences (JUST).
Since 2012, FAO and OIE have assisted NENA countries to implement a progressive control pathway for FMD (PCP-FMD) to strengthen FMD control and develop tools for its detection. For the first two days of this workshop, member countries discussed the FMD situation. They presented a self-assessment of their planned progress on the PCP-FMD provisional roadmap over the next seven years with the aim of reducing the spread of the FMD virus. Some of the tangible results will include establishing subregional laboratory and epidemiology networks to improve capacity building as well as biorisk management and enhancing surveillance strategies for early detection of outbreaks and timely reporting.
The last day of the workshop was dedicated to PPR in the context of the upcoming Global PPR Control Strategy formulation for 2014. Together FAO, OIE and the NENA countries are taking numerous positive steps towards the control and eradication of PPR by, amongst other things, enhancing capacity building, optimizing costs of national control programmes and developing a framework on animal import legislation. Among the recommendations made during the plenary session, participants stressed the need for governments and donors to strengthen their economic support in the fight against PPR.
Through these roadmap workshops, FAO and OIE seek to gain an overview of the ongoing control activities for FMD and PPR and to assist countries in developing projects for increased investment on national control progammes for both diseases. These workshops also serve to identify gaps in international support that need to be addressed in the coming years and remain vital platforms for exchange of knowledge on control measures for these contagious animal diseases.