Helping member countries better prepare for responding to animal health emergencies

Helping member countries better prepare for responding to animal health emergencies

01/12/2014

An outbreak of a transboundary animal disease (TAD) may have serious consequences to a country’s socio-economic wellbeing, as well as directly affect the livelihoods of its population. The best way to combat an animal disease emergency is by crafting preparedness and contingency plans before the outbreak occurs. In an effort to better prepare its member countries in responding to animal health emergencies, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has published the manual, “Good Emergency Management Practice: the essentials,” or shortly, the GEMP manual. The manual represents the Organization’s accumulated knowledge on best practices for managing animal health disease outbreaks in an emergency situation. Following the principles elucidated in the GEMP manual is a worthwhile investment of which any country will undoubtedly benefit. To date, the manual has been translated in to Spanish, French, Arabic, Chinese and Russian, in an effort to reach as wide an audience as possible.

FAO’s Crisis Management Centre – Animal Health (CMC-AH) has been able to further disseminate the principles of the GEMP manual by offering GEMP workshops in both regional and national levels. Most recently, the CMC-AH, in collaboration with the International Regional Organisation for Plant and Animal Health (Organismo Internacional Regional de Sanidad Agropecuaria, OIRSA), the Ministry of Agricultural Development (Ministerio de Desarrollo Agropecuario, MIDA), the FAO Subregional Office in Panama and the FAO Regional Office in Santiago, Chile held a GEMP Workshop from 16-18 September 2014 titled “Strengthening capacity to respond to animal disease emergencies in Latin American and the Caribbean.” This was the first GEMP workshop conducted entirely in Spanish, whereas workshops in French, Chinese and Arabic have already taken place.

The workshops rely greatly on the participation of the attendees, encouraging break-out sessions and working on mock exercises related to diseases that affect the region specifically. During the course of the workshop, participants identify ecommendations to implement in the region and particularly in their countries in order to improve preparedness and response to current and future animal health emergencies.

In an effort to increase communication between participants from the different workshops, the attendees are asked to join the LinkedIn group, “GEMP Network”. This LinkedIn group also shares information produced by multiple departments of FAO on risk communication, early warning, reports, etc.