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FAO supports control of livestock diseases across Africa

Mali-Senegal joint simulation exercise.JPG. Photo ©FAO_Yacine Cisse
17/04/2019

FAO responded to 163 outbreaks of infectious animal diseases in 13 countries in Africa, during 2018 – through the USAID-funded Emerging Pandemic Threats and Global Health Security Agenda programmes. Animal health experts supported Governments to manage outbreaks including avian influenza, foot and mouth disease, peste des petits ruminants, Rift Valley fever and anthrax. These diseases, among others, threaten the livelihoods of thousands of farmers and their communities across Africa. By giving technical advice and assistance, and supporting coordination and logistics, FAO helped to control the outbreaks and protect livelihoods.

Gabriel Rugalema, FAO Representative Kenya, said: “By strengthening the capacity to control and manage animal diseases, FAO’s animal health activities protect the livelihoods of those who depend on livestock.”

FAO animal health experts and representatives from 16 countries in Africa and FAO headquarters met in Nairobi, Kenya last week (15-17 April) for the Fourth Annual Africa Regional Meeting of the Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD). The delegation planned future work in Africa and collaboration with the African Union, World Organisation for Animal Health, World Health Organization, USAID and other important partners.

As well as response when an outbreak strikes, FAO strengthens capacity for prevention and detection of disease threats. During October 2017 – September 2018, FAO ECTAD trained more than 3 000 professionals to strengthen their skills including surveillance, early warning, diagnosis and risk communication. These animal health professionals can now better contribute to spotting and controlling disease outbreaks at source, and limiting their spread.

FAO is also helping to reduce the time taken from sampling animals in the field to confirming diagnosis of priority zoonotic diseases in laboratories. During 2018, FAO ECTAD increased diagnostic capacity of 38 animal health laboratories in 15 countries in Africa, providing critical infrastructural improvements, equipment, reagents and improving biosecurity and biosafety systems for more effective prevention and faster response to outbreaks. 

Gabriel Rugalema added, “We call upon FAO and Governments in Africa to continue recognizing the importance of animal health and investing financial and human resources. Livestock is key for economic development and growth in Africa.”

FAO ECTAD’s ongoing in-country programme is a collaborative effort with public institutions and the growing private sectors of Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Senegal, Sierra Leone, United Republic of Tanzania, Togo, Uganda and Egypt.

Around the world, FAO animal health experts are at work every day in 120 countries to improve capacity to prevent, detect and respond to high impact and transboundary disease threats of economic and public health significance.