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Chief Veterinary Officers from Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and Tajikistan meet on Transboundary Animal Diseases

27/11/2017 Tehran, Iran

Livestock play an important role in countries of Central and South Asia in relation to boosting nutrition but also by helping to improve livelihoods, particlarly those of small holders and their families. Outbreaks of animal diseases like foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) and peste des petits ruminants (PPR) are a constant threat to both better nutrition and farmers’ incomes. As  these diseases can spread rapidly and across national borders, there is an urgent call for greater cross-border collaboration to prevent and control transboundary animal diseases (TADs) .

For better monitoring of livestock health, and to rapidly contain outbreaks when they occur, veterinary officials from the Governments of Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and Tajikistan are meeting in Tehran today and tomorrow to discuss  areas of mutual concern and improved collaboration to address TADs.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Afghanistan, in close collaboration with the General Directorate of Animal Health and Livestock (GDAH&L) of the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL), Government of Afghanistan, has organized the two-day Quadrilateral Meeting on the control of Transboundary Animal Diseases (TADs), hosted by the Iranian Veterinary Organization (IVO), Ministry of Agriculture Jahad of the Government of Iran and supported/coordinated with FAO Iran.

The meeting is financially supported by the Government of Japan,  through the FAO project  in Afghanistan  “Building resilience and self-reliance of livestock keepers by improving control of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) and other Transboundary Animal Diseases (TADs)”. The project, launched in 2014, through funding of more than US$ 16 million, aims at assisting herders to enhace the health of their livestock. It also supports annual bilateral meetings with the neighboring countries (Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and Tajikistan) to address common issues  such as the impact of animal movements and the related risks of diseases spreading across borders. The four countries have conducted several bilateral meetings and signed bilateral Memoranda of Underestanding (MoUs), and proposed the development of a regional roadmap to control TADs.

Nomadic movement of livestock in remote border areas

Livestock-dependent populations in border areas include nomadic herders who move their stock along traditional routes between winter and summer pastures. The project aims to assist  these groups in prevention and control of animal diseases. In Afghanistan alone, the most recent estimate of the nation-wide number of indigenous sheep, goats and cattle was in excess of 10 million.

In general, the discussion points by Chief Veterinary Officers/Experts at the Quadrilateral Meeting include control and preventive measures currently in place and  emergency control measures required in case of disease outbreaks (sample collection, movement restrictions, emergency vaccinations, etc). The veterinary officials are also discussing disease surveillance, outbreak investigations, and, through  case studies, are examining viable  options for the control of animal movements along common borders. The meeting promotes communication, collaboration and coordination, exchange of technical expertise, awareness raising, training and capacity building as well as information sharing.

The Quadrilateral Meeting is expected to lead to the development of a mutually beneficial regional approach toward transboundary animal disease control. The signing of a multilateral Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Veterinary Directorates of Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and Tajikistan would strengthen the collaboration and coordination on control of transboundary animal disease, especially of FMD and PPR, to the  benefit of the lives and livelihoods of local communities, while improving economic growth through animal health and production. Further afield, the international community is expected to benefit from transparent disease reporting and a better understanding of the risks posed by  FMD and PPR. 

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