Programme de lutte contre la trypanosomose africaine (PLTA)

COMBAT, a new project to fight animal trypanosomosis in Africa



Animal trypanosomosis, a parasitic disease transmitted by tsetse flies and other blood-sucking insects, poses serious economic problems for livestock farmers in Africa. There is no vaccine, and existing drugs are losing their efficacy because of the emergence of drug-resistant parasites.

To fight this wasting and often deadly disease, FAO teamed up with CIRAD and a consortium of 21 partners, and on 22-24 September 2021 launched a new project COMBAT (COntrolling and progressively Minimizing the Burden of Animal Trypanosomosis). A scourge for African livestock farmers, the disease has already spread to Latin America and Asia, and it is also at risk of being introduced into other zones, including Europe, due to globalisation and environmental changes.

At the project kick-off event, FAO Senior animal Health Officer Weining Zhao, on behalf of the FAO Chief Veterinary Officer, said “I would like to express my deep appreciation for the launch of this new project to tackle this enormously important One Health problem, which affects the lives, livestock and environment of millions of vulnerable livestock keepers in Africa.” He added, “We are confident that the strong engagement of African, European and international institutions will ensure the full achievement of the project objectives.”

With the EUR 5.9 million financial support from the European Union, CIRAD will lead this 4-year project through the close collaboration with African partners in 13 enzootic countries and other partners including FAO.

The COMBAT project will improve basic knowledge on animal trypanosomosis, develop innovative control tools and strengthen surveillance, diagnosis and control networks by setting up harmonised information systems and intervention strategies. Moreover, it will strengthen the capacity of African livestock farmers and veterinary services to fight the disease while raising awareness among policy makers concerned with food security and poverty reduction.

FAO, through its Programme Against African Trypanosomosis (PAAT), will contribute to the COMBAT project by generating a continental atlas of the disease and its vectors, supporting the development of national information systems, and promoting the adoption of more rational and harmonized control strategies. FAO will also coordinate actions aimed at strengthening disease intelligence and surveillance, and contribute to the re-appraisal of the burden of the disease.

“To reduce or eliminate the disease, the COMBAT project will rely on an innovative, risk-based approach called "progressive control pathway" (PCP)”, explained Giuliano Cecchi, an expert on African trypanosomosis at the FAO. Cecchi added “the PCP helps to plan control activities in a phased, evidence-based manner, and to monitor progress towards the set goals.”

"The strength of this project lies in the fact that it brings together in the consortium both European and African research institutions, as well as the veterinary authorities of target countries. The project also has the support of international organizations, first and foremost the FAO, but also the African Union, the OIE, the WHO and the IAEA, which means that it has a major impact on all the stakeholders", highlighted Alain Boulangé, the project coordinator for CIRAD.

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