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News & features archive, 2011

Experiences with H5N1 HPAI enabled FAO to prevent other animal diseases which affect livelihoods, food security and human health

© Ahmed Haymen

Increase in HPAI in 2010

In 2010, the number of countries where H5N1 HPAI was reported increased to 18 (from 12 in 2009), and the overall number of reported outbreaks worldwide also increased. The disease was reintroduced to five countries, including Bulgaria and Romania, which were the first disease events in Europe since 2008. Human fatalities continued to occur. Thus, H5N1 HPAI continues to be a major concern, including the risk of human infection.

New disease threats

During 2010, major animal diseases continued to spread in different regions of the world, disrupting livestock production, rural economies and people’s livelihoods and food security. This has been largely due to the limited capacity of veterinary services to contain animal diseases in, and to disease drivers such as poor husbandry practices, high intensification of animal production, increased trade of animal and animal products and intensified contact between animal, human and wildlife populations. Significant disease events in 2010 included: the spread of African swine fever (ASF) in eastern Europe,foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in east Asia, Peste des petit ruminants (PPR) in eastern Africa, and porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) in Asia, together with some diseases that affect human health directly, such as anthrax, brucellosis and rabies.

Key principles

In addition to analyzing global progress in addressing HPAI, the report focuses on the key principles utilized in prevention, control and elimination of other transboundary animal diseases (TADs) and emerging infectious diseases (EIDs):

    • The move of the international animal health and donor community away from disease specific interventions to an integrated, multidisciplinary approach in developing sustainable animal health systems at country/regional/global levels.
    • The crucial Public Good role of veterinary services, needing development of skills, technical/management competencies and funding to effectively function and achieve public good outcomes; in close cooperation with public health authorities.
    • The level of commitment among the livestock/poultry sectors and governments to the elimination of pathogens of high impact; and the level of resources to implement effective disease prevention and elimination programmes.
    • The increasing emphasis on regional and global projects, reflecting the importance attached to the transboundary nature of diseases, and requiring cross-border cooperation and collaboration in control and prevention.
    • The enhancement in quality of public and private, veterinary and animal production services, many of which have limited capacity to identify and respond to cases of infection, fully understand the factors which influence disease emergency maintenance and spread, and implement improvements in production and marketing systems, including inspection and compliance.
    • The need to understand the the multiple factors which increase the risk of disease incursion and spread, such as increased trade of animal and animal products, and intensified contact between animal, human and wildlife populations.
    • The socio-economic impact of disease; and the importance in understanding the roles and motivations of farmers, (including differing perspectives of women and men), traders and consumers, and how they respond to risk, and in prevention and control measure compliance.


The 4th Report on the Global Programme for the Prevention and Control of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), 2010 highlights achievements and directions in combating HPAI, animal diseases which have an impact on livelihoods and food security, and in the case of zoonotic diseases, those which threaten human health.

FAO of the UN is an institutional partner of World Veterinary Year (Vet2011).