AGA IN ACTION
GTFS/INT/907/ITA: the Italian contribution to combat Transboundary Animal Diseases in Central Asia
The Governments of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan with the support of FAO and the Government of Italy are strengthening various aspects of animal health in Central Asia. FAO is currently implementing a project entirely funded by Italy, "Controlling Transboundary Animal Diseases in Central Asian Countries". The foreseen starting date of this Project was December 2003, but it came into effect in August 2004.
The overall objective of the Project is to increase food security by reducing livestock production losses caused by infectious diseases, to relieve poverty of those involved in the livestock-farming sector (producers, service providers and consumers) in the Region, to improve animal productivity and trade and to prove freedom from Rinderpest.
Planned major outputs are; (i) check progress on the verification of freedom from rinderpest, enabling countries to enter the OIE Pathway to Rinderpest Freedom, (ii) to better understand the impact of PPR, FMD and other major livestock in the countries, (iii) to establish communication between the countries for collaborative disease control and (iv) to establish national disease investigation, control and contingency planning for Transboundary Animal Diseases (TADs).
During the first phase (August 2004 - December 2007), the project assisted Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan in formulating and submitting to the OIE (World Organization for Animal Health) the dossiers for the recognition of freedom from Rinderpest. Pakistan (the country where Rinderpest was last verified in 2000) was a step forward in the eradication of the disease and was recognized in fact officially free in 2007, thanks to the previous activities supported by FAO and EU. Within the framework of GTFS/INT/907/ITA project activities, the country played a major role in carrying out epidemiological studies on Foot-and-Mouth disease (FMD) and Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR).
In occasion of the Tripartite Final Review Meeting (Rome, 13-14 September 2007), the Chief of Veterinary Officers (CVOs) of the beneficiary countries, the Donor and FAO representatives met and discuss about progress made and future challenges.
In light of the positive results accomplished during the first phase, Italy generously approved the extension for two additional years with a contribution of USD 2 000 000. The new project closure date will be 31 December 2009.
The second phase of project activities is even more challenging and will focus specifically on FMD and PPR. These diseases, unlike Rinderpest, are known to be active in the Region where GTFS/INT/907/ITA is operating. This requires that the approach be shifted from proving freedom for a given disease to looking at existent ones in order to better understand the main epidemiological features and, therefore, to be able to implement more effective control and prevention measures.
GTFS/INT/907/ITA will assist beneficiary countries in enhancing both diagnostic and surveillance capabilities. These topics will be discussed during the Regional annual meeting of CVOs to be held at the FAO Sub-Regional Office for Central Asia, Ankara (Turkey), 31 March - 1 April 2008. The delegations from the hosting (Turkey) and neighbouring countries (Iran, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan) will also be attending the meeting.