15 May 2015 - Under the FAO/OIE Global Framework for the Progressive Control of Transboundary Animal Diseases, an expert panel on Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) Socioeconomic impact was organized in April 2015 by FAO and OIE to explore approaches and the development of the first guidelines for FMD socioeconomic impact assessment.
This is the first time an FMD socioeconomic panel discussed the available methods and tools available for conducting FMD socioeconomic analyses required to support investments and provide evidence of FMD impacts in different production systems. The experts present at the meeting agreed on the guidelines content including chapters and case studies as well as intended use. A work plan was established to develop the guidelines, training materials, and tools to be used by countries aiming to control FMD based on the FAO/OIE Progressive Control Pathway (PCP).
The FAO/OIE FMD socioeconomic expert panel included 18 experts from Universities, Research Institutes and International Organizations (World Bank, OECD, OIE, FAO and IICA). Helmut Saatkamp from Wageningen University, Netherlands acted as the chair of this expert panel.
The need for global FMD control and eventual eradication is globally recognized. A PCP was developed by OIE/FAO in order to provide a stepwise sustainable approach towards the control and eradication of FMD for each FMD endemic country. The PCP begins at the lowest level of control (Stage 0), ends when a country is officially recognized free of FMD without vaccination (Stage 5). The lower stages of the PCP deal with reducing incidence of outbreaks whereas the highest stages correspond to the eradication of the disease. FAO/OIE/World Bank estimated that the cost of the FMD Global strategy for the first five year aimed at moving 79 FMD endemic countries from Stage 0 to Stage 2 and vaccination would be $694 million –not including costs related to the livestock population of India and China which would increase the total cost to $820 million. Under the FAO/OIE FMD Global Strategy, endemic FMD countries moving from Stage 1 to Stage 2 should provide evidence of the FMD socioeconomic impacts, the magnitude of all losses and the stakeholders mostly affected. In PCP Stage 1, countries should identify and measure the impact of the direct losses attributable FMD outbreaks in the main husbandry systems including losses due to .decreased production, lost draught power and increased mortality. In the higher stages of PCP-FMD pathway, the objective of the economic analysis may shift from assessing the impact of FMD toward measuring the cost/benefit analysis of FMD interventions including surveillance, vaccination and zoning. Cost/benefit analyses for FMD control could be undertaken to convince policy-makers to develop specific focused policies and investment to implement FMD control and eradication programs.
Socioeconomic impact studies are required to understand the benefits of implementing and continuing any disease prevention or control strategy therefore FMD control program at any stage. Demonstrating the positive potential impact of a control strategy is a necessity for countries as they determine the best way to allocate limited resources.
The expert panel stressed the importance of this meeting and meeting outcomes which will help convince policy makers and local Government to further invest in FMD control. Control of FMD by measures such as vaccination is generally not a priority for small holders given the socioeconomic importance of other diseases such as Brucellosis and PPR. Therefore the threat that FMD poses for small holders, their neighbors and country as well as neighboring countries is ignored.
The expert meeting concluded that economic analysis should be based on reliable data but acknowledged that data availability constituted an important gap. The importance of implementing surveys and collecting reliable data on a regular basis to assess socioeconomic impact of FMD is essential in the context of developing countries, categorized as endemic for FMD. The high investment for FMD control in countries is based on good FMD vaccination practices, that not always result in benefits expected by livestock owners. Hence, farmers opt to not vaccinating their livestock while ignoring the major threat that this disease poses for them, their neighbors and the entire country, as well as neighboring countries.
The FAO/OIE FMD Socioeconomics Guidelines will be available for countries and stakeholders by December 2015.