13 November 2015 – On 29 October, FAO animal health officer Felix Njeumi was honoured as “veterinarian of the year 2015” during a ceremony held by the University of Parma’s (Italy) Department of Veterinary Medicine. Having been selected from over 1000 candidates, his recognition derives from his outstanding contribution in the eradication of rinderpest.
Felix Njeumi is from Tonga, a small town in Cameroon. Since his early years he clenched the dream of someday becoming a veterinarian, working towards the eradication of rabies. With an absence of veterinary opportunities in Cameroon, Felix decided to pursue his education abroad, eventually obtaining his degree in Veterinary Medicine from the University of Parma (Italy) and then his PhD from the University of Bologna (Italy).
After being honoured as an alumnus of the University of Parma, for his international contribution in the field of animal health, Felix Njeumi expressed sentiment on receiving the award.
“I was honoured and proud to know that the University of Parma has been following and recognized what I have been doing since I graduated from the University.”
The desire to work in a multicultural environment which supports the research and improved risk management of pests and diseases that affect livestock led Felix Njeumi to come to FAO’s AGA division, where he has been since April 2005. At FAO, Felix Njeumi assisted the Global Rinderpest Eradication Programme (GREP) in ridding the world of rinderpest, the first animal disease in history.
Felix Njeumi has had a distinguished career thus far, serving in the GREP Secretariat for five years, focusing his efforts toward the eradication of rinderpest, which caused widespread fatalities of cattle across Africa, the Middle East and Asia. The eradication of rinderpest was recently chronicled as one of the ten major achievements in the history of FAO during the 2015 celebration of the Organizations 70th Anniversary. Njeumi was also recognized for his outstanding contribution to the eradication, during the 37th FAO Conference in June 2011.
FAO supports the people of Africa and Asia with the ability to control and manage high impact infectious diseases that pose a substantial threat to their economies, agriculture and at times public health. FAO’s work in this area has been a remarkable contribution in the field of veterinary medicine, directed toward the improvement of global livelihoods and fending off human pandemics.
Also consulted as an expert in the field of animal health, as with other colleagues in the Animal Health Service, Felix is currently formulating strategies and action plans for the application of cost effective animal disease management tools and methods towards eradicating peste des petits ruminants (PPR), a disease that is affecting sheep and goats throughout Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Lessons learned from the eradication of rinderpest are being used to formulate and implement the Peste des Petits Ruminants Global Control and Eradication Programme (PPR-GCEP) in the framework of the small ruminant sector in line with FAO’s strategic objectives. This programme was launched by the Director-General in April 2015 (Abidjan Côte d’Ivoire) with the aim for global eradication by 2030.