Countries pledge to wipe out sheep and goat plague globally

Countries pledge to wipe out sheep and goat plague globally


High-level authorities from 15 countries pledged on Thursday to collaborate on a global plan to wipe out forever the devastating animal disease known as ‘Peste des petits ruminants' by 2030, a lethal plague for goats and sheep and the scourge of rural households in vast swathes of the developing world.

Ministerial delegations, along with more than 300 participants from across the continents, representatives of regional bodies and international organizations, agreed to a plan to control and eradicate PPR drawn up by FAO and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and presented at a meeting organized by the two institutions with the Government of Cote d'Ivoire.

The campaign will make PPR only the second animal disease ever to be eradicated, after rinderpest in 2011. PPR is estimated to cause over $2 billion in losses each year, mostly in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, and its elimination will improve food and nutritional security for billions of consumers and especially the more than 300 million vulnerable households who keep sheep and goats in the affected regions.

"We have a plan, the tools, the science, and the partners," said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva. "Eradication of PPR is not only within reach, but also in our hands. With OIE, we have agreed to establish a joint secretariat for the implementation to be hosted by FAO." 

"We can mobilize now public and private components of national veterinary services worldwide to influence our strategy," stated OIE Director General, Dr Bernard Vallat. "Improving animal health is our duty and our passion."

Eradication is a "bolder next step"

Eradication is a step beyond efforts to control and reduce incidences of the disease. It is a "bolder next step" in line with the Strategic Development Goals that the international community is drafting in 2015, which include ending rather than reducing hunger, Graziano da Silva said.

The plan developed by FAO and OIE is estimated to cost from US$4 to US$7 billion over a 15-year period. Annual savings generated by eradication are expected to quickly pay back the investment required. FAO and OIE believe that this could be done in less time if they have the strong support from governments, partners and regional organizations.

Moreover, the campaign will produce very significant collateral benefits, both by boosting the goods and services of the national veterinary systems that can control other livestock diseases such as brucellosis or foot-and-mouth disease, and because eradication of the PPR threat will unleash greater investment in the sector, improve nutrition, and secure people's livelihoods.

Demand for meat and milk from small ruminants in Africa is expected to rise by 137 percent from 2000 to 2030, and even more in Asia, according to FAO, and diseases cripple the efficiencies in reaching these needs.