16 September 2016 - Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) can severely affect the production of livestock and significantly disrupt regional and international trade in animals and animal products. The most significant impact of FMD in low and middle income countries is, however, due to losses in production, utility and income that combine to particularly affect livelihood and food security of subsistence farmers.
With the goal of reducing the impact of FMD on subsistence farmers, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in partnership with the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), developed in 2012 a 15-year global control strategy. Since the strategy was rolled out, several initiatives were taken to create an enabling environment for FMD control programs and provide feasible policy options for countries where the disease is most prevalent. Furthermore, they have partnered with FAO-based European Commission for the Control of Food-and-Mouth Disease (EuFMD) and developed the Progressive Control Pathway for Food-and-Mouth Disease control (PCP-FMD) in 2008; a series of technical phases to guide countries of prevalence through a successful FMD control program. The PCP-FMD contributed significantly to the FAO-OIE Global Control Strategy whereby it represented the backbone for its implementation. Out of 87 FMD-affected nations globally, at least 60 are currently engaged at various levels of PCP-FMD implementation to reduce or eliminate FMD virus by 2027.
The first West Africa FMD Roadmap meeting was held in Togo 7-8 September, 2016. The objectives of the meeting were, among others, for the countries in the region to have a technical platform to provide training on PCP-FMD, share information on FMD virus circulation and assess country progresses using the PCP as a core tool. The meeting was attended by veterinary services representatives of fifteen countries, namely; Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Côte d'Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.
Opening remarks were given by representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Hydraulic of Republic of Togo, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), FAO, and OIE. Director of Veterinary Service of Togo commended the organizers for holding this first meeting in West Africa aimed to develop a harmonized strategy for FMD control in the region. He highlighted that this meeting is a big step forward for reducing or eliminating FMD virus circulation by 2025.
The countries were assessed along the PCP Stages considering the data provided in their PCP-FMD questionnaires and their presentations. The outcome of the analyses was presented by PCP experts from FAO, OIE and EuFMD to the Regional Advisory Group (RAG) of West Africa for final recommendation on countries’ PCP stages. The RAG consists of three Chief Veterinary Officers (Nigeria, Niger and Benin) and leads of the regional epidemiology (Senegal) and laboratory (Ghana) networks elected by the participating countries.
The RAG recommended the following PCP stages (0-5) for West Africa:
- Stage 1: Senegal, Nigeria, Gambia and Mali
- Provisional Stage 1*: Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Niger and Togo
- Stage 0: Cape Verde, Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone
Countries endorsed 17 regional priorities including the followings:
- Raise awareness on disease recognition and timely reporting and support training of the community animal health workers among pastoralist communities;
- Establish or reinforce active surveillance to gain an improved understanding of the FMD virus lineages that circulate in West Africa as well as to develop tailored tools to enable early detection of new serotype incursions into the region;
- Enhance accurate and timely diagnosis of FMD through national and/or regional/international reference laboratories and rapid results and information sharing back to the appropriate stakeholders including farmers and Veterinary Services;
- The regional laboratory and epidemiology networks to formulate a 3- to 5-year work plan that should include coordination and capacity building activities;
- Improve cross border and regional coordination and harmonization on surveillance, control and share of information;
- Countries to consider combining the control of FMD with livestock diseases such as PPR and CBPP which are considered as high-priority diseases in the region (component 3 of the Global Strategy for the control of FMD);
- FAO, OIE and EuFMD to provide capacity building activities to the national Points of Contact and other relevant stakeholders through online courses and webinar series; and
- AU-IBAR and ECOWAS to approach donors to contribute to the funding of national Assessment Plan and Risk-Based Strategic Plan.