AGA IN ACTION
FAO and SSAFE join forces for a safer world
Incorporated in 2006, SSAFE is a public-private partnership with a vision to integrate food safety, animal health and plant health in order to improve public health and wellbeing. The idea for SSAFE arose from the need to effectively address the worldwide threat of Avian Influenza but has now expanded its scope to include agriculture, aquaculture, beverages, fisheries, and wildlife.
Membership to SSAFE includes members and collaborators. Its stakeholders represent the food, beverage and pet food industries, animal health and nutrition, foodservice operators, academia, and non governmental organisations.
In May 2008, The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and SSAFE signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the main objective of enhancing the capacity of developing countries to prevent and redress the increasing risks associated with food safety and animal health, and their impact on public health and consumer protection. Since then, several FAO Divisions, Services and Units have held exploratory discussions with SSAFE to identify potential areas of partnership.
Given this opportunity, since August 2009, the Veterinary Public Health (VPH) team of the Animal Health Service of FAO has actively pursued discussions on potential collaborative projects with SSAFE members: Nestlé Purina and Pfizer Animal Health. It is important to underscore that a closer collaboration with the private sector needs to be based in accordance with some basic principles to ensure that the partnership works for the benefit of both parties, consistent with their mandates, and in conformity with existing rules and procedures.
The VPH team and SSAFE members had discussed during the past year the main objectives of piloting a public-private partnership initiative. The objectives included the implementation of a pilot project on rabies prevention and control in the Kwazulu Natal province of South Africa, as well as development and implementation of a pilot VPH capacity development and continuing professional development scheme for field staff in Sierra Leone, and joint support for zoonotic disease prevention and control activities of the Animal Health Clubs initiative.
SSAFE’s mission of fostering the continuous improvement and global acceptance of internationally recognized food protection systems and standards directly and indirectly supports FAO’s mandate to raise levels of nutrition, improve agricultural productivity, better the lives of rural populations and contribute to the growth of the world economy. This complementarity is what makes partnerships work succesfully in the long term.