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FAO and the United Kingdom combined
efforts to increase animal health emergency preparedness awareness in the Caucasus and Central Asia

17 March 2016 – FAO refurbished the “Good Emergency Management Practice (GEMP); The Essentials” manual, which describes the different steps to consider for Veterinary Services when drafting and validating their emergency preparedness documents, such as contingency plans and related standard operational procedures (SOPs). The aim of this manual is to support the veterinary services in increasing preparedness towards animal disease outbreaks, and to decrease subsequently the time needed to respond to a crisis, therefore limiting its potential socio-economic impact in the country.

FAO/OIE’s Crisis Management Crisis-Animal Health (CMC-AH), the FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia and the FAO Sub-regional Office for Central Asia, within the framework of the project entitled “Development of emergency animal response capacity in the Middle East and North Africa – Good Emergency Management Practice” funded by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (UK), organized a regional workshop in Istanbul, Turkey, from 16 to 18 February 2016 to increase countries ‘awareness in the importance of risk-based preparedness to animal disease outbreaks.

Twenty-two state veterinary officers from eleven countries (Belarus, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ukraine, Armenia, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan) from the central administrative level to field offices attended the workshop and shared their own experience in preventing and controlling transboundary animal diseases (TADs), such as Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD), African Swine Fever (ASF) and, more recently for some of the participating countries, Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD) and Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR).

The aim of the GEMP workshop is to present FAO’s “Good Emergency Management Practice: The Essentials” manual’s main chapters in a participative manner through group and simulation exercises. The manual offers a set of clear concepts and guiding principles for veterinary services to implement or strengthen their preparedness to infectious animal diseases, through the development of preparedness or contingency plans and SOPs.

The major items discussed and agreed upon are presented as follow:

  • Importance of One Health and multisectorial/interministerial approaches in contingency planning validation and application;
  • Importance of risk-based surveillance strategy for a better cost-effectiveness;
  • Importance of risk communication and farmers’ awareness raising to increase the sensitivity of passive surveillance;
  • Importance of transparency in animal health countries’ status in a region;
  • Good scientific and technical information on the disease concerned by the contingency plan as an asset for a better disease management;
  • Emergency funding needs  integrated in the plan and ready to be used;
  • Compensation as a key element for a better passive surveillance and to increase farmers’ compliance to risk mitigation measures;
  • Need of Emergency Operations Centers (EOCs) at every level of the chain of command;
  • Lack of contingency plans and related SOPs for the main diseases considered (ASF, FMD, PPR) in most of the countries;
  • Need for simulation exercises to improve timely response to likely outbreaks according to mitigation measures legally available;
  • Increase public-private partnership to improve coordinated response to disease outbreaks;
  • Contingency plans are living documents that need updating according to lessons learned during outbreak management.

Participants were involved in practical group exercises on response to hypothetical cases of Newcastle Disease and H7N9, including human cases in a neighboring country. They also applied the GEMP principles in contingency planning to present the preparedness status of their respective countries.

As of today, over 615 participants from 56 countries have participated in the GEMP workshop, either at the regional or at the national level.


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Photos: © FAO/Ludo Plee


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