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FAO in South Sudan

FAO and Ministry of Livestock, Animal Resources and Fisheries launch initiative to implement a Foot-and-Mouth Disease Progressive Control Pathway

James Janga Duku, Minister of Livestock, Animal Resources and Fisheries receiving laboratory equipment worth USD 19,000

In order to prevent the spread of Foot-and-Mouth disease, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Ministry of Livestock, Animal Resources and Fisheries have launched a two-year joint initiative to start building a Progressive Control Pathway (PCP). This pathway is the first step for the surveillance, data collection and analysis of foot-and-mouth outbreaks in rural and border areas according to international standards, to trigger targeted treatment campaigns.

Trans-boundary animal diseases, like foot-and mouth disease, are a constant threat to the livelihoods of pastoralists, and some cases even have serious public health consequences. As a result of to the constant movement of livestock and wildlife across international borders, risk of introduction, spread and outbreak of various diseases is high and difficult to manage.

“Livestock are important resources to take care off, as up to 70% of our population relies on it to survive, and therefore an essential means of economic survival of this nation. There are many diseases affecting our cattle – Foot-and-Mouth disease is one - and if we don’t address it, it will restrict the development of our livestock sector. The registration and tracing of our livestock is the way of assuring access to the international market,” highlights James Janga Duku, Minister of Livestock, Animal Resources and Fisheries.

To realize these interventions, FAO has donated laboratory equipment worth USD 19,000 to help establish a laboratory for testing samples from suspected foot-and-mouth disease cases, and enable the identification of the right vaccine to be given. There are seven strains of the virus, each producing the same symptoms but requiring its own specific vaccine. It is essential to identify the strain in the laboratory to initialize the right treatment.

Additionally, foot-and-mouth is a severe, contagious viral disease. It is vital to understand which strain of, where and how the disease is affecting various communities, and feed this information into the national epidemiology information system. This system will help produce and analyse trends of the disease outbreaks. With the technical support from FAO, the Ministry will be able to develop a more robust system to help analyse trends and formulate fitting interventions to fight and prevent the spread of the disease.

“As this disease is so contagious it is important to catch it early, and eradicate it as swiftly as possible. It is important for South Sudan to prove that it is without this disease for access to profitable trade opportunities in the sub-region,” explains Serge Tissot, FAO Representative of South Sudan. “We fully support the Ministry of Livestock, Animal Resources and Fisheries in this, as we have done with many other animal health interventions.”

Under this project, the Ministry and FAO are committing to the implementation of activities for the prevention and control of foot-and-mouth disease, but also to incorporating a component to facilitate the development of a strategy on how to harmonize all disease surveillance techniques and systems nationally. With more disease outbreak data collected and well-documented, authorities will also be equipped to develop effective national policies for veterinary services, and share this information internationally.

“As animals don’t have passports they are freely moving across borders, which has a big impact on the spread of diseases and the livestock sector in the sub-region. We believe, as FAO, that one of the important ways in which we are contributing to the economic development of this country is to improve the opportunities for South Sudan to access the international market. We look forward to working with the Minister, ministry staff and of course other partners contributing to this project,” says Patrick Kormawa, FAO Subregional Coordinator for Eastern Africa and FAO Representative to the African Union and UNECA.

Moreover, FAO and the Ministry will also reinforce awareness and training on trans-boundary disease control among a variety of stakeholders to strengthen their ability to react appropriately and prevent the diseases from causing unnecessary sickness or even death. It is important that not only livestock owners and herders are aware and involved in the control of such diseases, but also other stakeholders like state administrators and wildlife officials.