Animal health

FAO Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD)

Transboundary animal diseases (TADs) can be highly contagious and spread extremely rapidly, irrespective of national borders. Animals and humans are living in closer proximity than ever before due to urbanization, deforestation, climate change, population growth, increases in mobility and the intensification of the livestock industry. This means that diseases that jump from animals to humans (zoonoses) are on the rise and can spread in a matter of hours or days. TADs, zoonoses and growing antimicrobial resistance (AMR) have devastating effects on animal production and trade, human health, agrifood systems transformation and livelihoods, and create additional challenges to the achievement of targeted Sustainable Development Goals. The socio-economic and health impact of African swine fever, highly pathogenic avian influenza, H1N1 pandemic influenza, Ebola, severe acute respiratory syndrome, Middle East respiratory syndrome and COVID-19 are illustrations of the magnitude of the effects of these threats.

Established in 2005, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD) plans and delivers FAO animal health emergency and development programmes to more than 37 countries to prevent and mitigate the impact of animal diseases using a One Health approach.

The ECTAD programme of work is funded by the United States Agency for International Development, the United States Defense Threat Reduction Agency, Australia, China, the Republic of Korea, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and FAO internal funding.

Enabling countries to address animal diseases and related health threats

Through ECTAD’s multidisciplinary teams deployed in more than 30 Member Nations in four regions, the FAO Animal Health and Production Division and the Office of Emergencies and Resilience work together to build country, regional and global capacity to forecast, prevent, prepare for, detect and respond to the emergence, spread and persistence of high-impact health threats of animal origin.

In 2021 alone, ECTAD helped respond to over 400 outbreaks of priority diseases in 19 countries, trained nearly 6 000 professionals and enhanced diagnostic capabilities of 90 laboratories in 22 countries. To support sustainability, ECTAD has been supporting the review and formulation of enabling policy and legislation framework and the formulation of contingency and response plans against priority animal diseases, AMR national action plans and One Health-related policies and legislation.

The One Health approach is embedded in the work of ECTAD. Zoonotic transmission occurs at the human–animal–environment interface and cross-disciplinary and multisectoral cooperation at all levels is enhanced by the nature of ECTAD’s multidisciplinary global network.

Through ECTAD’s support, FAO has been able to manage and coordinate the largest animal health and One Health programme in the world, supporting the most vulnerable and economically challenged Member Nations to improve their capacities to implement disease control programmes and contribute to eliminating poverty, enhancing food safety and security, and protecting global health. Thanks to ECTAD, FAO remains one of the largest contributors to global health security.