09 August 2013 - Georgia became the 37th member of the the European Commission for the control of Foot-and-Mouth Disease (EuFMD) on 23 July 2013. This recent addition marks a new and proactive stage for Georgia in the country’s efforts to control transboundary animal diseases. EuFMD, one of FAO’s oldest Commissions, was established in 1954 to coordinate foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) control within Europe at a time when the disease was ravaging the continent.
Under the legal framework of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and with funding from the European Union, EuFMD provided the Transcaucasus region (i.e. Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan) with vaccines from 1998 to 2012 to lower the risk of the disease spreading. Georgia shares borders with four countries in which FMD is still active, which increases the threat of an epidemic affecting Georgia’s growing livestock sector.
As a member of the EuFMD and FAO, the Georgian authorities are taking significant action on two fronts.
Firstly, the Government will be developing a national risk-based strategic plan to monitor and evaluate progressive control of the disease. This will build on the control activities already being conducted in the context of the West Eurasia FMD Regional Roadmap, active since 2008. Because it is considered a country at risk, Georgia will receive special assistance to develop the capacity of risk managers according to the principles of the EuFMD/FAO/OIE1 Progressive Control Pathway (PCP) for FMD.
Secondly, Georgian authorities are demonstrating a commitment to take practical effective steps to control this highly contagious disease. With increasing exports of livestock, Georgia’s membership of EuFMD demonstrates to other nations that it has begun a serious and exhaustive process of controlling the disease.
From 13 to 15 August 2013, EuFMD will provide its first instance of support to Georgia as a member country via a workshop in Tbilisi. Participants will include senior members of the Georgian National Food Agency and experts from the Georgian national FMD laboratory. Attendees will receive training on how to develop a risk-based strategic plan for the control of FMD. EuFMD experts will provide capacity building and guidance on national objectives, disease indicators and technical assistance. The workshop is the first step in a process whereby the veterinary services and stakeholders work together, with the assistance of EuFMD and the long-term commitment of the national authorities, to develop a comprehensive plan for FMD control based on PCP principles.
Georgia’s entrance into the EuFMD will help livestock-rearing farmers reduce the risk of FMD infecting their herds by working out a long-term plan for the establishment of a sustainable national programme.
1 World Organisation for Animal Health