Animal health

Emergency Management Centre (EMC)

FAO’s Emergency Management Centre (EMC) has been leading global animal health emergency management since 2006 using a One Health approach. A joint platform linking two FAO divisions, EMC brings together the technical and operational expertise of FAO’s Animal Production and Health Division and FAO’s Office of Emergencies and Resilience. As such, EMC plays a critical role in strengthening countries’ preparedness and response capacity to reduce the impact of animal health emergencies that can threaten livelihoods and food security, particularly in lower income countries with vulnerable infrastructures. Since the beginning of 2022, the mandate of the EMC was extended to support plant health emergencies and will be working with the FAO Plant Production and Protection Division.

The four-pillar approach

The Centre’s core functions are laid out under the four pillars outlined in its 2018-2022 Strategic action plan:

EMC preparedness support is a catalyst for government action and helps leverage resources from partners to strengthen country resilience to animal disease outbreaks. EMC leads workshops in Good Emergency Management Practice (GEMP) to support countries in developing animal health emergency contingency plans. Last year, EMC published a revised version (third edition) of Good emergency management practice: The essentials, now available in all six United Nations languages. An online GEMP course was created in 2021 and is available in English, French, Portuguese, and Spanish. The Centre also develops tools for countries to assess their emergency preparedness levels (through the Progressive Pathway of Emergency Preparedness, or PPEP), to assess their response to emergencies (through the Conducting After Action Reviews for animal health emergencies manual, or ‘AAR’) as well as to operationalize response activities (through the Animal Health Emergency Operations Management manual).

Upon official requests from governments, EMC deploys rapid response missions to support countries in preparing for and responding to outbreaks of animal diseases, including zoonoses. Both the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) and the World Health Organization (WHO) are frequently involved in the planning, implementation and follow-up of these missions. These missions enhance countries’ operational readiness and ability to detect and enable better response to adverse events affecting animal health, food security and livelihoods. Following a mission, EMC ensures that follow-up activities are initiated either through FAO country offices or partner organizations.

Incident coordination groups (ICGs)
Incident coordination is another of EMC’s four core functions. The Centre activates and leads incident coordination groups in response to a need for international coordination of a specific animal health event. Since 2019, EMC has led ICGs covering various diseases: Ebola virus disease, COVID-19, Rift Valley fever (RVF), all of which were under One Health, and HPAI, foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), lumpy skin disease (LSD) and African swine fever (ASF). Currently, a global ICG call is held twice monthly, with disease specific regional ICGs meeting on a monthly basis. Regional ICGs allow for countries in the same region to meet online and discuss specific diseases and topics that are affecting their region. Presently, there is an active ICG in Asia-Pacific to deal with outbreaks of FMD and LSD in the region.

Collaboration and resource mobilization
The EMC team works with other FAO divisions and international partners to reduce animal health threats, thanks to the financial and technical support of its donors and partner organizations. EMC is entirely donor-funded. The activities carried out by EMC and its achievements would not be possible without the vital support of its resource partners. These funds allow EMC to continue to assist countries to manage animal health emergencies, protecting livelihoods and saving lives.