TWENTY-FIFTH FAO REGIONAL
Beirut, Lebanon, 20-24 March 2000
ANIMAL HEALTH COMMISION FOR THE NEAR EAST
1. From the early 1970s to the mid 1990s, the increase in meat consumption in the developing world was almost three times that in the developed countries. People in developed countries continued to obtain an average of 27 percent of their calories and 56 percent of their protein requirement from animal food products while the averages for developing countries were 11 and 26 percent, respectively. In developing countries, total meat production grew by 5.4 percent per year during the above period, a rate which was more than five times that for the developed world.
2. The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), and FAO anticipate a livestock revolution in the publication entitled "Livestock to 2020: The Next Food Revolution." With the exception of a few countries, per capita production kept up with population increases in most developing regions, however this was not the case in the Near East Region.
3. From the regional perspective, animal production is coming under extreme pressure and it cannot cope with local demands. Its potential of providing enough animal protein was diminishing due to many factors including:
- The ever increasing population of the Near East Region
- The shrinking of the traditional pastureland
- Recurrence of drought in the area
- Outbreaks of transboundary animal diseases
Remedy of the first three factors, and indeed others, would be the duties of individual states, to a certain extent; while the last factor was, without doubt, a regional problem and would involve the neighbouring states. It would be an obligation to the states involved to join forces in order to control and prevent these animal disease out-breaks.
4. The natural resources for agriculture in the Near East are limited. Except in Sudan and Turkey, there are very limited land reserves remaining for expansion of arable agriculture. Yield increase and increased cropping intensity are the only avenues still open but the fact that 66 percent of the agriculturally suitable areas are permanent pastures indicates a reasonable potential for livestock production when compared to crop production in the Region. In addition, most of the land classified as waste and barren, which is about 57 percent of the total land area, is classified as rangeland and provides significant feed resources to the nomadic and trans-human livestock populations.
5. The livestock sector, in particular sheep and goats, plays an important role in the national economy of the countries in the Region. The percentage of the Gross National Product (GNP) generated from agriculture in the high-income countries of the Region varies from 1.0 to 4.0 percent and in the low-income countries varies from 23 to 55 percent (as in the case of Somalia). Based on FAO projections, about 30 percent of the gross value of agricultural output of the Region will be provided from livestock production in the year 2000.
6. Livestock products make an important contribution to the diet of both the rural and the fast growing urban populations. The average protein content is higher than that found in Sub-Saharan Africa or the Far Eastern diets with meat and/ or milk forming a substantial component. However, these relatively high levels of consumption are supported by substantial imports of animals and their meat from outside the Region and particular noteworthy are the substantial imports of small ruminants for the major Muslim festivals (Eids). Therefore if productivity can be improved there should be a scope for import substitution for the Region as a whole. (Annex 1-Table 1. Number of livestock in the Near East Region).
7. The national animal health services in the Region have unique strengths compared to services in other parts of the world, and as a whole, these are characterized by:
8. Some national animal health services are, however, particularly weak in one or more of the above areas. They require additional trained staff, facilities and financial assistance in order to up-grade their performance to an acceptable level. Transboundary animal disease control and prevention in the Central Asian Republics was weakened considerably by the break up of the Soviet Union. They are at severe risk of introduction of rinderpest, PPR and FMD and there is an urgent need to bring them into a close working relationship with neighbouring countries. General weaknesses of animal health services throughout the Region include a lack of co-ordination between the countries and in national and regional emergency preparedness. These weaknesses are particularly evident by their difficulty in enforcing quarantine measures, controlling animal movements and taking collective action during transboundary animal disease outbreaks; contingency planning for animal disease emergencies is virtually non-existent.
Regional co-operation in the field of animal disease control is not developed to the necessary extent. However, few specific cases where regional co-operation has produced satisfactory results in terms of controlling or eradicating diseases are mentioned below:
9. Reasons for taking a co-operative approach were the economic interdependence of countries in the Near East, the movement of livestock across common borders and the rising standards of living of their citizens. Consequently, in 1962, the Near East Animal Health Institutes project (NEAHI) was established in Beirut, with five participating countries supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
10. In 1967, NEAHI was expanded to eight participating countries and began to concentrate on strengthening national laboratory diagnostic services, training laboratory and field staff, improving standards of biological production and seeking solutions to special problems caused by animal diseases. In 1973, NEAHI expanded its scope to include animal production and established the Near East Production and Health Development Centre (NEADEC). In June 1975, participating governments took over financial responsibility from UNDP and requested FAO assistance in the development of a Multi-Donor-Funds-in-Trust project.
11. The West Asia Rinderpest Eradication Campaign Co-ordination was part of an international programme for the global eradication of Rinderpest. The Global Rinderpest Eradication Programme incorporates the concept of a Pan African Rinderpest Campaign (PARC) which covered 34 countries in Africa until 1999, the South Asia Rinderpest Eradication Campaign (SAREC) covering 5 countries in Asia and a West Asian Rinderpest Eradication Campaign (WAREC), which covered 11 countries in the Near East Region. WARECC had a most important co-ordinating role during its life from 1989 to 1994; after which there has been no clear regional co-ordination mechanism towards the final eradication of rinderpest from the Region.
12. In late 1988, the presence of the New World Screwworm (NWS) was reported in Libya. This was the first report of NWS fly outside the Americas, where it is considered one of the most destructive livestock pests. After an FAO mission had confirmed the presence of an established infestation of NWS, the Government of Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, with assistance from FAO and UNDP, initiated an intensive surveillance, prevention and control programme. National veterinary service personnel in the Front Line States were trained to identify the fly's larva and treat cases.
13. The eradication programme using Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) went into effect as of December 1990. The last myiasis case was detected on April 7, 1991 and the last fertile female fly was captured on April 27. Using this proven technology, strengthening national animal health services and by coordinating activities of national health services in the sub-region, the NWS became eradicated from the Region by the end of 1991.
14. This Regional Project covered 16 countries and was funded by a Trust Fund to which all participating countries contributed. Its objectives were to cover both animal production and animal health aspects. The Animal Health project objectives included: monitoring the occurrence of major infectious disease of livestock and preparing Regional plans for their control and eradication and promotion of animal disease surveillance networks in the Region. Unfortunately, this project was terminated following the Gulf war.
15. International barriers do not necessarily prevent the movement of animals, and transboundary animal diseases can thus be easily spread. The lack of border control measures in any country will lead to instability in the transboundary animal disease situation within the Region. Most of the countries of the Region import both live animals and animal products, either from countries within or from outside the Region; a situation that would require applying strict animal quarantine measures.
16. Even if this sector managed to improve its situation, transboundary animal diseases can make livestock products untradable commodities which will have a negative impact on the household supply of animal protein. Animal health, transboundary animal diseases, livestock trade, import of livestock products, quarantine and zoonotic diseases are therefore important issues for the decision-makers in the countries of the Region. Rinderpest, foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR), Rift Valley Fever (RVF), Old World Screwworm (OWS), brucellosis, Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), and many other veterinary diseases are topics for the agenda, not only in meetings between Chief Veterinary Officers (CVO's) but at higher level meetings and even between heads of states.
17. The free flow of information has transformed what otherwise had been collegial exchanges among veterinarians into the subject of public concern as the media go into full spate every time reporters discover a report relating to an outbreak of an animal disease. It is essential that disease reporting is based on sound disease intelligence for unfounded rumours and disease misidentification have an economic impact which is difficult to reverse once established. The control of transboundary diseases needs a collective effort by neighbouring countries and the full collaboration of specialized agencies such as FAO and Office of International Epizotics (OIE).
18. There can be little prospect for livestock development in an environment where transboundary animal diseases are uncontrolled. This was recognised by the World Food Summit held in Rome in 1996. Its Plan Of Action (FAO 1996) included as one objective:
"Governments, in partnership with all sectors of civil society and with the support of international institutions, will as appropriate seek to ensure effective prevention and progressive control of plant and animal diseases, including especially those which are of transboundary nature, such as rinderpest..."
19. FAO/ EMPRES was conceived and implemented in 1994 to strengthen FAO's role in championing the goal of enhanced world food security, through focussing on the prevention of transboundary animal diseases and plant pests. The EMPRES-Livestock vision is: "to promote the effective containment and control of the most serious epidemic livestock diseases, as well as newly emerging diseases by progressive elimination on a regional and global basis through international co-operation involving early warning, early/rapid reaction, enabling research and co-ordination". Thus, while the prime thrust of the EMPRES-Livestock component is on rinderpest it also addresses other diseases of importance to this Region, including foot-and mouth-disease (FMD), Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR), contagious bovine pleuropneumonia (CBPP), Rift Valley Fever (RVF), lumpy skin disease, and Newcastle disease of poultry.
20. RADISCON the Regional Animal Disease Surveillance and Control Network project is a joint FAO/IFAD endeavour targeted at 29 countries, including 22 countries from the Near East Region, which aims to promote animal disease surveillance within and amongst countries. The project is assisting each individual country to establish its own National Animal Disease Surveillance System (NADSS) and communication between participating countries will take place electronically, where possible, using Internet/ electronic mail facilities.
21. The OIE Regional Commission for the Middle East is based in Beirut, Lebanon and deals with epidemic animal diseases and livestock trade. However, not all RNE Countries are members in the Regional Commission. FAO and OIE complement each other's functions, and cooperate at the regional level.
22. In order to fill the vacuum left from the termination of the Middle and Near East Regional Animal Production and Health Project (MINEADEP) and because the Region does not have an existing body which deals with specific animal diseases, FAO/RNE deemed it highly appropriate to submit a proposal for the development of a Regional Commission/Forum for Animal Diseases. Such a Regional Commission/Forum could cover the most economically important transboundary diseases, namely, rinderpest, FMD, PPR, OWS, as well as brucellosis.
23. The European Commission for the Control of Foot- and- Mouth Disease (EUFMD) was created in 1954 under FAO auspices. Although its geographical covering does not extend to the Middle East and North Africa, the Commission has gained experience in FMD control and wishes to support any initiative aiming to a better control of FMD in the Region. This was expressed at the 63rd session of the Executive Committee, held in Sithonia, Greece, on 4 and 5th November 1999.
Despite a relatively satisfactory level of co-operation achieved by Member Nations in the Region against the specific cases previously mentioned, there are still important transboundary animal disease issues in the Region, which require concerted efforts by governments and national animal health services. The following are examples of main areas in which regional co-operation can be expanded and provided:
24. Foot-and-Mouth Disease is a highly infectious disease, which affects all cloven-hoofed animals, both domestic and wild, in most regions of the world. North and Central America, Australia, New Zealand and Japan remain disease free, while in Europe FMD causes isolated sporadic outbreaks. Effective control of FMD relies on implementation of zoosanitary procedures combined with immunization programmes employing safe and efficacious vaccines. However, currently available vaccines are relatively expensive and their use is complicated by the existence of numerous virus serotypes which confer no cross protection. The Region is at risk from repeated introductions of viruses from South Asia and Africa. Effective control requires a close matching of vaccine strains with viruses occurring in the field and thus has to be based on a sound epidemiological understanding generated on a Regional basis and related to global events. International trade in meat and other animal products is a most important factor in the spread of FMD and the disease is a major constraint to the trade of livestock and their products with severe economic effects.(Annex 2, Maps 1- 4: FMD outbreaks).
25. The major efforts of veterinary services in the Middle East Region have been directed towards control of foot-and-mouth disease by vaccination of cattle, buffaloes, sheep and goats annually using inactivated vaccines. Because of heavy and constant exposure to infection, the repeated vaccination of animals at six-monthly intervals is considered necessary but is seldom practical in the Region. Furthermore, problems also exist in dealing with immunisation in a mixed population of domestic stock where cattle improvement schemes have taken place and where nuclei of high yielding animals exist. In many livestock producing and exporting countries in the Region, effective mass immunization of the population at large may not be economically possible, since the value of the individual animal will not be sufficiently high to justify the costs. Therefore it is evident that with the presently available quantities of vaccines, it is difficult to guarantee the continuing protection of even high-grade animals against constant risk of exposure to FMD virus types.
Why the Regional Commission/Forum should include FMD
26. From the above, it is clear that FMD is one of the serious animal diseases in the Region and causes great economic losses. In general, surveillance of this disease is not undertaken at the level required for the effective implementation of preventive and control measures.Prevention and control measures of FMD require joint action by the countries of the Region in order to promote direct exchange of disease reports among countries, co-ordination of vaccination and other control measures, and the prevention of the introduction of the disease into the Region. This requires the availability of good diagnostic services, vaccine production based on serotypes prevalent in the Region etc. Quality assurance of FMD vaccines, both in terms of safety and potency, is of fundamental importance for the control of FMD. An independent quality assurance facility in the Region could make a significant impact both on the quality of vaccines and on stimulating regional production.
27. FMD is endemic in the Middle East Region, both in animal exporting countries, such as Sudan and Turkey, or animal importing countries such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Therefore, there is an urgent need for a concerted approach for the control and eventual eradication of FMD in the Region. The following steps were taken to control FMD in the Region:
28. Rinderpest is perhaps the most serious cattle plague that caused some severe famines due to cattle and buffalo populations that were destroyed. In the recent past, countries of the Region repeatedly suffered severe epidemics of rinderpest emanating from South Asia. The last of these started in 1969 when a pandemic swept through Iran to the shores of the Mediterranean Sea affecting most countries in the Region. Another destructive outbreak occurred in the Arabian Peninsula in 1985 and the disease has persisted in some countries until today with occasional introductions from outside. However, countries in the Region have made such very significant progress in rinderpest eradication in recent years that the disease is now almost certainly persisting only in Yemen. Iran acts as an effective buffer to overland spread from Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Current Status of Global Rinderpest Eradication Programme (GREP)
29. The Fourth EMPRES Expert Consultation held in Rome in May 1999 endorsed the concept of a five year "GREP Framework for Intensified Action" which had been formulated to guide actions for the final elimination of the last few foci of rinderpest persistence. This represents very real and tangible progress. At present the information available to the FAO/GREP Secretariat suggests that these last remaining foci are centred in Pakistan and Afghanistan, southern Somalia and southern Sudan. In addition, the disease is suspected still to be present in Yemen from clinical reports received as recently as July 1999; although the disease has not been confirmed in the laboratory since 1995. There is growing confidence that the rinderpest focus which affected the "Kurdish triangle" (involving Turkey, Iraq and Iran), which persisted possibly until as late as 1996, has been eliminated (Annex 2, Maps 5 & 6 : Rinderpest risks).
30. The challenge facing the farming world and GREP is to sustain the commitment of countries through the final stages of eradication to reach global freedom. Unless countries which believe themselves to be free from rinderpest take the required steps to prove that freedom, then progress in reaching the stage of "A World Without Rinderpest" by the year 2010 will be compromised. This requires countries to follow the well-defined OIE Pathway through its three stages to verified freedom, an increasingly important process with implications for SPS agreements under World Trade Organisation (WTO) Regulations. Many countries have started the process, some on a zonal basis -20 in Africa (including Egypt) but only 6 in Asia (Turkey, Jordan, India, Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka); many others are poised to do so (Annex 2, Map 7: OIE declaration of provisional freedom from rinderpest).
Why the Regional Commission/Forum should include Rinderpest
31. Unfortunately, the interest in and commitment to GREP seems to be weakest in the countries of the Arabian Peninsula, which one might have expected to be amongst the most committed as they have suffered so gravely from rinderpest in the past and remain at high risk. Progressive control has proceeded to the point where the formerly severe economic impact of rinderpest is now reduced to a low level but now is not the time to allow complacency to creep in.
32. A "Regional Commission" might give the impetus to the final push to the total eradication of the disease through promotion of international coordination for clusters of ecologically similar countries to progress together towards verification of freedom from rinderpest. This disease has a devastating effect on the trade of livestock from outside and within the Region and its control consumes an excessive amount of national budgets available for transboundary disease control. For example, Iran alone spends about US$ 5 million per year to prevent the disease spreading westwards from Pakistan and Afghanistan - money which could be dedicated to the progressive control of FMD if rinderpest were eradicated.
33. Rinderpest not only kills cattle, but it also has a devastating impact on rural incomes, livestock production and ultimately on food security. The disease can devastate national economies, as shown by its severe effects on the Somali economy. Global rinderpest eradication is in our grasp but there is still much to do and every country has a duty to perform. It is not onerous but requires commitment.
34. Peste des petits ruminants, which is also known as goat plague, is a disease of increasing importance in Africa and Asia, wherever small ruminants form an important component of agricultural and food production. It can affect some antelope, as reported in zoological garden collections of wild small ruminants, including oryx, gazelles and ibex. The disease extends through most of the states of west, central and east Africa, reaching eastward through western and southern Asia. (Annex 2, Map 8: distribution of PPR).
35. Much of this increased recognition of its widespread distribution is due to a greater awareness and availability of new diagnostic tests. Some countries of the Near East Region were a vivid example of the disease spreading, although much remains to be understood about the epidemiology of recent PPR disease events in the Region. In recent years, the disease has been seen in Turkey, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen. There is also serological evidence from the Syrian Arab Republic.
36. Up to 100 percent of the animals in a flock may be affected in a PPR outbreak, with between 20 and 90 percent dying. Pregnant animals may abort.This disease needs special attention, as it may pass unrecognised for years in some countries because it is frequently confused with other diseases that cause respiratory problems and mortality of small ruminants. Again, the transboundary nature of the disease requires a coordinated effort to bring about progressive control. A regional commission for animal health could be a forum for guidance and coordination of the required activities.
37. During September 1996, wound myiasis of livestock was recorded in Iraq. At the FAO Collaborating Centre on Myiasis Causing Insects and their Identification, based at the Natural History Museum (NHM) in London, sample cases were confirmed as being due to larvae of the Old World screwworm fly (OWS), Chrysomya bezziana. These were the first known records of the occurrence of OWS in Iraq (Annex 1, Table2: Reported Screwworm Cases in Iraq). Throughout its natural range in Asia and Africa, the OWS is the most important myiasis producing fly. Females lay their eggs at the edges of wounds or body orifices and the emerging larvae feed on the underlying living tissues. In Iraq, the vast majority of OWS cases were found to occur in sheep. Some human cases have also been reported.
38. A marked seasonality was observed in the number of cases of OWS. A first peak was recorded in December 1996 and January 1997, but numbers then declined and remained low throughout the hot, dry summer of May-August 1997. The number of cases recorded then began to rise again, so that while some 5,600 cases were recorded in December 1996,but the December 1997 figure was substantially higher, at 23,400 cases. During the course of 1998, substantial supplies of insecticides finally became available and OWS could be kept reasonably well in check. However OWS did flare up again towards the end of 1998 and the situation remained fluid during 1999. The relatively high incidence during the summer of 1999 is of considerable concern. The reasons behind it are not fully understood but FMD, PPR and probably Sheep Pox have contributed to the further spread of OWS. Importantly, the geographical area affected became enlarged again during 1999. A further complicating factor was the very severe drought, which created unusual animal concentrations.
39. Thus, the factors important in the epidemiology of OWS myiasis in Iraq include climate, geography, animal husbandry (e.g. lambing season) and the UN sanctions. The latter have seen a marked decline in quantities of insecticides in Iraq and the means to apply them. The veterinary authorities have, therefore not been able, as they might otherwise have been to react to OWS as a new parasite in the country. In the short-to-medium term, OWS in Iraq has to be controlled with insecticides. In the long term, control or eradication using genetic techniques might be possible, such as the sterile insect technique (SIT), but such method is to be considered at a regional level, rather than just at a country level.
40. FAO obtained risk maps through matching georeferenced data on OWS cases in sheep and cattle (using a training set of over 15 000 OWS cases) with 1 km NOAA satellite imagery. These risk maps assist in the geographic demarcation of areas of low, medium and high risk. When taken in conjunction with the results of molecular (DNA) analysis of flies caught in different countries, preliminary evidence suggested that geographical populations appear well defined which, given the livestock trade between countries in the Arabian peninsula, is surprising. This finding is of strategic relevance since it may indicate that eradication of OWS from countries such as Iraq, Iran and Kuwait is technically feasible. FAO collaborates with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on this issue.
41. FAO support, through TCP and funding by the Netherlands amounted to US$ 1.0 million. Approximately US$ 2.1 million were allocated during 1998/99 under the Food for Oil arrangements. The Arab Organization for Agriculture Development (AOAD) is implementing a regional OWS control project since 1998, with a funding level established at US$ 3 million.
42. FAO has prepared a project document for regional OWS control to complement the present AOAD programme. It envisages the consolidation of chemical OWS control and a study regarding the feasibility to apply the sterile insect technique for the eradication of OWS. FAO and IAEA already started the analysis of the genetic distance between OWS fly populations distributed across the Arabian Peninsula, Asia and the Horn of Africa.
43. Through surveys and country reports in most countries of the Region, evidence is growing that there is an increased prevalence of Brucella melitensis causing brucellosis in cattle, camels, as well as the usual target hosts namely sheep and goats. Brucella abortus has also been reported causing cattle and camel brucellosis in the Region. Human brucellosis is also known to be prevalent in this area.
44. Brucellosis causes appreciable economic losses to the livestock industry in infected areas, resulting from abortions, sterility, decreased milk production, veterinary care costs and the cost of culling and replacing animals. In the dairy industry of the majority of countries, exotic breeds are imported from disease free areas in Europe to increase milk production genetic capabilities of native breeds through cross breeding. Storms of abortion due to brucellosis among these native stocks often led to high losses and sometimes to the undermining of these projects. The disease also constitutes an impediment to free animal movement and adds to the costs of quarantine and testing export animals. Only a few studies to evaluate the costs of brucellosis in terms of productivity losses and control costs were carried out in the Region. In Africa it was found that when 30% of cattle females are affected this resulted in a 5.8% income loss.
45. In sheep and goat, the economic losses are due to decreased breeding efficacy and reduced milk production. It is however generally realized that the most deleterious impact of small ruminants brucellosis in the Middle East and North Africa stems from the adverse effects of spread of infection with B. melitensis to cattle and camels and to humans. B. melitensis is highly virulent and causes higher abortion rates in cattle and camels and a much more severe human disease than B. abortus, the usual agent affecting cattle.Each human brucellosis case originates from an infected animal, thus the elimination of brucellosis from animal population is the sole mean by which it can be controlled in human.
Why the Regional Commission/Forum should include Brucellosis
46. Most of the countries in the Region had established that brucellosis is endemic through passive animal disease surveillance systems which are part of the routine veterinary services' activities in most of these countries. For a better knowledge of brucellosis distribution in the Region and a better understanding of the patterns of the disease, there is a need for an active brucellosis surveillance system. Such system would determine the presence of the disease on the basis of scientific, epidemiological knowledge, using statistical methods to quantify its prevalence.
47. FAO launched a mission to some of the participating countries in RADISCON: Algeria, Iran, Kuwait, Morocco, Oman, Syria and Sudan. All these countries are actively engaged in, or concerned with brucellosis surveillance and control programmes and the development of a surveillance strategy. A commission/forum will provide the technical umbrella for RADISCON, National Veterinary Authorities, Health Authorities and other bodies involved in the Brucellosis problem.
48. Heads of the Veterinary Services of some MINEADEP countries in a meeting held in Baghdad in October 1984, recommended that an FMD Commission be set up to visit member countries to study the FMD situation and to appraise the facilities and resources for the diagnosis and control of the disease and advise accordingly on improved control programmes.
49. Heads of Veterinary Services of a certain number of countries in the Near East Region have expressed their need for a coordinated brucellosis surveillance and control for the Region at the OIE Regional Commission for the Middle East held in 1991 in Turkey (Pendik). Furthermore, they have requested FAO to take the lead in the preparation of joint FAO/WHO/OIE guidelines on the above.
50. The Twenty-first FAO Regional Conference for the Near East, held in Teheran in 1992, recommended FAO "to assist member nations in preparing and implementing an FMD control programme and to study the possibility of initiating a Regional project for that purpose". Unfortunately this recommended regional project did not materialise due to lack of adequate funding.
51. The FAO Regional Office for the Near East organised a Roundtable on Foot and Mouth Disease in the Near East from 21 to 23 November 1994 in Cairo. Participants from Egypt, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Turkey attended the roundtable meeting. The meeting recommended the establishment of regional commission/forum for FMD.
52. A series of meetings took place under WAREC for the Coordination of rinderpes control/eradication in the region; and at the 13th Arab Veterinary Congress (March 1997, Cairo) the idea of the forum was presented by the Chief, Animal Health Service, FAO and warmly welcomed by participants
53. The strategy for improving animal health in the Near East Region would support the inter-country cooperation in disease monitoring, reporting and emergency reaction for control of infectious diseases, thereby strengthening Veterinary Services capacity in addressing emergency situations in connection with new and re-emerging epizootics in countries of the Region.
54. The Forum's ultimate objectives are to promote trade in healthy animals and safe animal products based on scientifically sound disease intelligence. The main technical activities envisaged include:
- An animal disease surveillance and control network. IFAD funded project (RADISCON) is being implemented to cover this subject. Twenty nine countries, of which 22 belong to the Region, are participating in this project, which should pave the way for good national veterinary investigation services in the Region;
- improving animal disease diagnostic capabilities;
- upgrading of animal quarantine facilities and updating trade regulations.
55. To support all of the above activities, short-training workshops could be organized and coordinated among countries under the auspices of the Commission/Forum. The proposed Commission/Forum would also play a policy role, including discussions, information exchange and harmonization of quarantine regulations among countries in the Region. This Forum would also identify and propose investment projects to governments, regional banks or donor agencies leading to agreed upon longer-term development schemes of priority to member countries.
56. The technical role of the Forum, particularly the secretariat, includes fielding at short notice qualified persons to undertake epidemiology investigations responding to emergencies. Essential animal disease and production information will be circulated through a proposed network on the animal disease and production information.
57. A small management unit of the proposed "Regional Animal Health Forum" would be hosted, for the interim period, in the FAO Regional Office (RNE) in Cairo. The Regional Officer for Animal Production and Health would be directly responsible for Forum activities. An FAO Trust Fund arrangements is proposed for implementing the project activities which would include:
Pre-requisites to the creation of this Comission/Forum would be:
- A clear commitment of Member countries who wish to join the Comission/Forum to adhere to its statute and regulations and to pay their annual contributions on a regular basis. The Comission/Forum should be totally independant and not sensible to possible political conflicts among its Members.
- The funds generated by the financial contributions from the Member countries will be managed by RNE.
- A constitution for the Comission/Forum which falls under Article XIV of FAO should be prepared along the model of the EUFMD Commision.
58. Draft of the Agreement for the Establishment of a Commission/Forum for Animal Health in the Near East Region and the Rules of Procedures of the Commission/Forum will be prepared in consultation with legal and technical departments in FAO Headquarters in Rome.
The following tentative agenda is proposed for the constitution of the Commission.
|Drafting of the Agreement for the Constitution of the Comission/Forum||RNE||February 2000|
|Presentation at the FAO Regional Conference, Beirut||AGAH/RNE||March 2000|
|Inclusion of amendments, comments||RNE||April 2000|
|Submission to Legal Office (for Advice)||AGA||June 2000|
|Submission for endorsement by Member countries||RNE||July-Dec. 2000|
|Submission to FAO Council and/or Conference||AG||Nov. 2001|
|Submission of Instrument of Adhesion to FAO Director General by Governments of Members countries||1st quart.2002|
|Appointment of APO for EIS||AGAH||2002|
|Launching of Commission/Forum||mid-2002|
(Source: The FAO Animal Health Year Book, 1994)
|Total (Percentage to world population)||99608
as of 30/11/1999