03 June 2016 - The national FAO work planning meeting in Ethiopia was held in Addis Ababa. Following a technical consultation meeting on Ebola virus and MERS Coronavirus in Rome in January 2016, and the FAO regional programme launches for East Africa in Nairobi (12–13 January 2016), this meeting was the final in a series of country-level engagements in which specific activities were planned and outlined for the period March to September 2016, and marked the validation of activities to be implemented until September 2016 with national implementing partners and other stakeholders in Ethiopia. The primary objectives of the FAO component of the USAID-funded EPT-2 programme are to prevent, detect and respond to infectious diseases that have an adverse impact on health sectors (both human and animal), such as Ebola, avian influenza, and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome caused by Corona virus (MERS-CoV). The Ethiopia project specifically addresses Ebola and MERS-CoV in domestic animal populations through specific disease surveillance and detection activities as well as through strengthening laboratory diagnostic capacities, and better understanding of the livestock production systems and value chain sectors.
The USAID EPT-2 programme, to be implemented until 2019, aims at building and strengthening basic capacity in animal health to detect early and rapidly respond to emerging disease crises threatening animal or human health. Implementation will be aligned with the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA), an important global initiative of the US Government, led by over 50 countries in the world contributing to strengthening the public and animal health capacities to detect and respond to any emerging pandemic threats.
The two-day meeting was opened with remarks from Dr. Misrak Mekonnen, State Minister in the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries, Mr. Amadou Allahoury, FAOR to Ethiopia, and Ms. Yung-Ting Bonnenfant, GHSA focal point with USAID. Also in attendance were members of the ministry of Livestock and Fisheries (at the national and state level), National Veterinary Services, and representatives from the academic sector, diagnostic laboratories, and other research institutes and NGOs.
The participants of the meetings validated activities involving Ebola virus and MERS Coronavirus surveillance in domestic animal populations; strengthening laboratory diagnostic capacities; and the mapping of livestock production systems and value chain sectors. Targeting Ebola surveillance at the wildlife-domestic animal interface is key for improving our understanding of the potential role of livestock in the transmission of this deadly virus. Conversely, understanding how and why MERS-CoV circulates in the camel population; identifying any disease spillover from wildlife to livestock; and identifying risks for transmission from animals to humans are essential for understanding this serious zoonotic threat and for targeting interventions.
Close involvement of country partners in the work planning meeting was essential to ensure timely implementation of activities “Ethiopia is one of the last countries in the EPT-2 programme to hold a work planning meeting. However, we have an extremely strong team both in terms of technical expertise and motivation, and I am confident that by the end of the first year, we will have implemented activities that address all of the objectives of EPT-2”, said Dr. Scott Newman, ECTAD country team leader in Ethiopia.