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Program targeting animal disease threats takes off in Eastern Africa

Promoting links between animal health and public health sectors through a “One Health” lens

Opening Session- Photo ©FAO

14 January 2016, Nairobi - Eastern Africa national health systems will be boosted in 2016 to mitigate the risk of diseases to livestock and humans as the Emerging Pandemic Threats (EPT-2) program begins.  The global initiative targeting Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Tanzania will also support broader goals of risk assessments and management by better defining livestock production and marketing systems. These were some of the conclusions following the two-day program launch that took place in Kenya’s capital Nairobi on 12 and 13 January 2016. The programme is coordinated by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

The eastern Africa launch for the Emerging Pandemic Threats (EPT-2)/Global Health Security Agenda programme was officially opened by Honourable Willy Bett, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries. Addressing the participants, the Cabinet Secretary noted that eastern African countries feature on the list of high-risk countries where diseases affecting humans can emerge from animal reservoirs:

“Diseases that can be transmitted between animals and humans, such as bird flu and tuberculosis, can wreak havoc on the health of both organisms.  Researchers have found over ten so-called zoonoses are responsible for 2.2 million human deaths annually”.

Mr. Bett went on to add that the vast majority of these illnesses occur in low and middle income countries represented at the meeting.

Rolling out EPT-2 and the Global Health Security Agenda

Building on the success of USAID-FAO partnership, the FAO Director General and the USAID Director for Health in Rome signed a new global grant agreement of USD 87 million in Rome on 20 October 2015 to support the implementation of the EPT-2 programin Africa, Asia and the Near East. The five year program (2015-2019) represents part of the US Government’s investment into the country-led Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA). The program aims to mitigate hazards resulting from biological risks by accelerating progress in ensuring countries have robust systems in place to prevent, detect and respond to infectious diseases with potential to occur as pandemics and also to curb the threat of antimicrobial resistance.

Committing towards Sustainable Development Goals

Making opening remarks on behalf ofthe Director General of FAO, Jose Graziano da Silva, Kenya’s FAO representative Robert Allport expressed commitment to support programme implementation in Eastern Africa:

“FAO has representations in nearly all African countries. At both Country and Regional levels, we implement programmes and projects that assist countries improve animal production and health, meet their international obligations, and continuously develop capacity among all livestock/animal value chain actors”.

This multi-sectoral and multi-disciplinary program will deploy a One Health approach, a collaborative effort of multiple disciplines working locally, nationally and globally, to address the problem of high impact zoonoses such as Ebola, MERS CoV and highly pathogenic avian influenza.  Based on recommendations from the meeting, FAO will proceed to establish teams in Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania and in collaboration with a number of national and international partners prepare country implementation plans by end of February 2016.Data targeting human, wildlife and livestock aimed at further mitigating Ebola and MERS-Cov – two animal diseases that have particularly affected the continent, will also be collected.

“This programme is important as it will strengthen national systems.  It will not only facilitate those in the veterinary realm to detect disease events and prevent their possible spread, but also to  develop safe good production and marketing practices to protect human health”, Dr. Diop Bouna, the Unit Manager for FAO’s Emergency Center for Transboundary Animal Diseases in East Africa further emphasized.

 

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Links: http://www.fao.org/ag/againfo/home/en/what/what_we_do.htm

 

Contact: Ruth.Lehman@fao.org, Communication FAO-Kenya

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