Fighting hunger is not only about producing more food. It also means protecting livestock from diseases and preventing them from spreading across borders. That's why in 1994, FAO established the Emergency Prevention System for Transboundary Animal and Plant Pests and Diseases, or EMPRES. Back then Rinderpest eradication program was the main driver for the establishment of EMPRES-Animal Health. Thus, EMPRES-AH had a pivotal role in the declaration made by FAO and OIE of the world free of rinderpest.
Even after the declaration of the world free of Rinderpest in 2011, FAO's EMPRES-Animal health programme continues to play a major role in the fight against persisting and/or spreading transboundary animal diseases at a global level, with emphasis on developing countries. EMPRES is part of the Animal Health Service, which includes GLEWS, Veterinary Public Health and Disease Ecology. EMPRES works on four main pillars: sustainable capacity building, knowledge sharing, tools & strategies and coordination & networking.
In its capacity building work EMPRES emphasize the need for adequate preparedness, early detection and rapid response to prevent, control and recover from diseases emergences, while using the both individual countries and regional approach. EMPRES activities on advocating for political will come to ensure the sustainability of its capacity building focus.
As part of its knowledge sharing pillar, EMPRES is focusing on enabling research environment, information sharing on applied research and disease situation, promoting up-to-date disease intelligence and technology. EMPRES has several periodical publications aiming at disseminating of information to member countries.
EMPRES coordination activities focus on disease prevention and control activities, particularly rapid response coordinated at country and regional level where emphasis is on risk assessment, surveillance, and early detection using adequate diagnostic techniques.
For this purpose EMPRES take advantage of its main components: the Emergency Management Center for Animal Health (EMC-AH previously CMC-AH), where its main focuses are the deployment of expert missions in case of disease emergency to assess the epidemiological situation and providing training on Good Emergency Management practices (GEMP) to stakeholders , particularly veterinary services, of member countries.
The laboratory unit of EMPRES works with countries in developing a sustainable, timely and effective diagnostic services to the livestock sector. For this purpose the lab unit has developed several tools such as the lab mapping tool (LMT) that assist countries in assessing their operational capacity including biosafety.
The disease surveillance unit works with countries in improving their surveillance and early detection system on a risk based approach using several tools such as risk assessment and the Surveillance Evaluation Tool (SET).
The FMD and Rinderpest unit works closely with OIE in assisting countries to move along the Progressive Control Pathway for Foot and Mouth Disease on one hand and ensuring that the rinderpest virus and its vaccine are kept only in authorized specialized facilities.
In all its activities EMPRES uses the grass roots multisectoral approach to animal health management.