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Reducing the spread of Zoonotic diseases in Fiji

16/10/2016 Suva, Fiji

The Biosecurity Authority of Fiji (BAF) in conjunction with Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), Ministry of Fisheries and Forestry (MFF) and FAO is working on implementing a joint project funded through the Special Fund for Emergency and Rehabilitation supported by the Government of Belgium.

This project aims to minimise the spread of zoonotic diseases such as Leptospirosis, Brucellosis and Bovine Tuberculosis among livestock farmers and households in Fiji.

Under the FAO project, an international epidemiologist will be recruited to enhance capacities of BAF by providing basic training on epidemiology and will develop a zoonotic disease prevalence, prevention and control plan in Fiji. The plan will identify the prevalence of zoonotic diseases, investigate and monitor outbreaks and track their development in order to implement emergency measures, vaccinations and further prevent and control the emergence of epidemics.

BAF Executive Chairman Mr Xavier Khan said the likelihood of outbreaks of the zoonotic diseases such as Leptospirosis, Brucellosis and Bovine Tuberculosis increases after cyclones and natural disasters with improper disposal of carcasses and debris and migration of wild animals.

Mr Khan added that in absence of the Emergency Response Plan (ERP) for animal and national surveillance framework in Fiji, outbreaks of zoonotic diseases can result in large number of human and animal deaths in the country.

“In order to assess the level of risk and introduce mitigation measures of the effects of the cyclone, there is an urgent need for expertise to conduct epidemiological assessments and advise on disease control measures,” he said.

“The FAO project consists of setting up coordination mechanisms between animal and human health sectors to effectively address the spread of zoonotic diseases not only endangering human and animal health but also having potentially grave economic consequences.

“The provision of test kits will determine the prevalence of zoonotic diseases, investigate and monitor outbreaks and track their development- the evidence base behind decision making for implementing emergency measures, vaccinations and further prevent and control the emergence of epidemics,” Mr Khan said.

He said this will not only preserve the lives and livelihoods of livestock farmers but will protect the overall Fijians from risks of zoonotic diseases; some with fatal consequences for humans and animals.

The FAO epidemiologist will contribute to assessing the situation in Fiji with regard to the three zoonotic diseases and recommend activities regarding their prevention and control.

Photo©FAO / Rudolf Hahn

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