FAO Regional Office for Africa

FAO supports the ECOWAS 7th Annual Regional Animal Health Networks (RAHN) Meeting

The platform, bringing together scientists and policy makers to implement effective and efficient animal health interventions in the ECOWAS region, helds its seventh edition

© FAO

21 September 2021, Abidjan – The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Sub Regional Office for West Africa supported the seventh Annual Regional Animal Health Network (RAHN) meeting, organized by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), in collaboration with the African Union InterAfrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR), the World Animal Health Organisation (OIE), the United States Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS), the ECOWAS Regional Animal Health Centre (RAHC) and BROOKE in West Africa.

This four-day RAHN meeting was attended by veterinary epidemiologists, laboratory experts as well as chief veterinary officers of the member states of the ECOWAS region to assess the progress made on the recommendations of the previous annual meeting. Participants also received a short training on disease knowledge management and leadership, advocacy, and resource mobilization. In addition to these experts, representatives form the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) member States (Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Chad) also participated as observers.

In his welcoming remarks, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Agriculture, Environment and Water Resources, His Excellency Sangaré, stated that “this workshop provides an opportunity to meet and exchange views on the current and future activities of the RAHNs, to follow up and evaluate the recommendations of last year’s meeting, and to reflect seriously on the animal health issues that have arisen in recent years as a result of the recurrent major health crises that threaten the livelihoods of millions of people such as avian flu, foot-and-mouth disease, and others.” He particularly thanked FAO and its Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD) for supporting ECOWAS in setting up these networks and for its continued support in organising the annual meetings over the years”.

In his turn, Mamadou Niang, FAO ECTAD Regional Laboratory expert, representative of FAO on behalf of the FAO ECTAD WCA Regional Manager, explained that “it is imperative that we, technical and financial partners, further commit ourselves to pooling our resources, expertise and experience in order to support the RAHC in this difficult and much needed mission, which is essential to improve our systems and strengthen our populations wellbeing”. He further encouraged participants to address, in addition to the technical aspects, issues related to optimising the performance of the networks, their added value, the expansion of the partnership and the inclusion of other topical issues and sustainability.

ECOWAS RAHN improves collaborative implementation

The RAHN provided an excellent platform where scientists and policy makers converged to explore how they can jointly facilitate the implementation of effective and efficient animal health interventions in the region.

Subjects such as animal health surveillance, risk assessment and early warning of potential disease outbreaks were discussed among key stakeholders. Disease information sharing among partners networks involved in public and animal health helped to ensure that an integrated risk assessment approach is applied in animal health activities. This information sharing was also key to improving the development of disease control strategies and addressing other public health threats at all levels (local, national, regional and international).

High-Level Meeting of the ECOWAS Specialized Technical Committee on Food and Agriculture (STCF)

Recommendations formulated during this ECOWAS seventh RAHN annual meeting served as a base for the conclusions of the High-Level Meeting of the ECOWAS Specialized Technical Committee on Food and Agriculture (STCF), hold on 27 September 2021 in Abidjan.

In the STCF, the ministers insisted on the need to seek synergy between the action plans at the regional and national level, as well as to have a monitoring-evaluation mechanism for the implementation of the decisions. Ministers indicated their support for the initiative to ban animal abuse in general and confirmed the alignment of national strategies with the regional and global strategy for the eradication of Peste des Petits Ruminants. Finally, the STCF adopted five strategic documents amongst them the strategy for the eradication and prevention of the peste des petits ruminants (PPR) by 2030 and the strategy for the eradication of dog-transmitted rabies by 2030.