11 June 2015 - Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) can severely affect the production of livestock, and disrupting regional and international trade in animals and animal products. Nevertheless, the detrimental impact of FMD in low and middle income countries is due to production losses, utility and income that can have a significant effect on livelihoods and food security, especially for subsistence farmers.
In order to reduce the disease burden, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) developed a 15-year global control strategy in 2012. Since the global FMD control strategy brought to light, several initiatives were made to establish an enabling environment to make FMD control a feasible option particularly for countries where the disease is most prevalent. Progressive control pathway for FMD (PCP-FMD) was developed in 2008 and published in 2011 by FAO and EuFMD and became a joint FAO-EuFMD-OIE guiding tool for the national control approach in which standard control measures are applied in a step-wise and monitored manner. Out of 87 FMD-affected nations, at least 60 are currently engaged at various levels in the implementation of PCP-FMD in the quest to reduce or eliminate FMD virus circulation by 2027. Some regions are making progress in FMD Control, such as South America and South East Asia. However, still a number of countries in Asia, Middle East and Africa are endemic for FMD.
For an effective implementation of the global FMD strategy and to resolve some of the anticipated challenges, regional roadmap platforms have been successfully used to assess the progress of FMD control in accordance to PCP-FMD guidelines. According genetic and antigenic analyses, FMD viruses currently circulating have been sub-divided into seven regional pools. As distinctive virus strains tend to occur within a defined region, regional roadmaps have been established in five of the seven regional virus pools (2-6). The FMD roadmap meetings are aimed at sharing information on FMD virus circulation in the region, assessing the progress of each country along the Regional Roadmap and working with them on preparing their national control programmes, project proposals and submissions to OIE for programme endorsement.
The West Eurasia FMD Regional Roadmap was launched in 2008 in Shiraz, Iran. The 6th Roadmap Meeting for West Eurasian countries took place in Almaty, Kazakhstan, from the 28th to 30th April 2015 organized by FAO and OIE in collaboration with the European Commission for the Control of FMD (EuFMD).
In this occasion, 13 of the 14 countries of the West Eurasia group attended this meeting: Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Pakistan, the Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. The Russian Federation attended as an observer.
The PCP Stage assessment was conducted by analysing a PCP-FMD questionnaire which was filled and submitted before the Roadmap Meeting to the FAO-OIE Global Framework for the Progressive Control of Transboundary Animal Diseases (GF-TADs) FMD working group (WG). That was followed by assessing the countries presentations and carrying out interviews with country’s representatives during the roadmap meeting. The results of the assessment were presented by PCP experts from FAO, OIE and EuFMD to the Regional Advisory Group (RAG) of West Eurasia for final recommendation on countries’ PCP stages. The RAG consists of three Chief Veterinary Officers and leads of the epidemiology and laboratory regional networks who are elected by the participating countries.
West Eurasian countries continue to progress successfully in control of FMD and advancing in their PCP-FMD stages as follows:
- Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan currently are in stage 1 i.e. understanding FMD epidemiology and preparing a risk-based strategic plan (RBSP) to progress to stage 2;
- Iran and Turkey are in PCP-FMD stage 2, i.e. implementing a RBSP to reduce the risk of FMD;
- Georgia and Pakistan advanced this year to stage 2 and will be implementing the established RBSP;
- Armenia and Azerbaijan in provisional stage 2 pending submission of their revised RBSP plans before the end of 2015.
The northern and western regions of Kazakhstan gained an OIE status of free without vaccination.
Overall, country representatives felt that their participation in the technical discussions of the meeting could have been more active if they were provided with additional PCP-FMD training. To address that, with WG agreement, EuFMD will develop e-learning training packages on PCP principles to be delivered before the subsequent Roadmap meetings.
Technical support for the preparation of achievable national FMD control programmes in order to develop technical guidelines on FMD vaccination monitoring and socioeconomic impact as well as provision of training to countries following the PCP-FMD guidelines will continue to be an important asset of the FAO-OIE in collaboration with EuFMD to successfully achieve a West Eurasia region free of clinical FMD. The next roadmap meeting is tentatively scheduled for April 2016.