17/05/2023 - 

The Ambassadors friends of PPR eradication gathered at the Rome headquarters of FAO with a call for USD 1.9 billion to eradicate the deadly Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR) by 2030.

Established in 2018, this group of ambassadors- with representatives from Côte d’Ivoire, European Union, France, India, Ireland, Kuwait, Mali, Tanzania, Turkey, and the United States of America - are tasked to advocate for PPR eradication at FAO, IFAD and WFP governing bodies.

Reported first in 1942 in Côte d’Ivoire, PPR is a highly contagious disease infecting wild and domestic small ruminants. Once newly introduced, the virus can infect up to 90% of a herd or flock, killing up to 70% of infected animals and thus, affecting both the economic and socio-cultural aspects of the rural poor’s lives. The yearly economic impact is estimated to reach US$2,1 billion.

In his remarks, Mr Thanawat, director of animal production and health division at FAO, said healthy animals lead to healthy people, which leads to healthy diets. PPR is an eradicable disease given that an effective, robust, safe and affordable vaccine that can induce lifelong immunity against all known viral strains is available. The disease manageability lies in the fact that the infection is transmitted primarily by direct contact, and the virus does not persist in the environment. Animals are infectious for a short period, after which they either recover or die, and there is no carrier state.

PPR has significant global impacts on the economy, livelihoods, and gender, highlighting the need for effective prevention and control measures to mitigate its impact on small-scale farmers, pastoralists, and vulnerable communities. It is estimated that PPR causes significant economic losses to the small ruminant industry globally, with annual losses at around $2 billion. The disease leads to reduced productivity, lower reproduction rates, and higher mortality rates, which in turn affects the livelihoods of small-scale farmers and herders who rely on small ruminants for their income.

Additionally, women are disproportionately affected by PPR outbreaks as they often bear the responsibility of caring for small ruminants which are an important source of livelihood for millions of small-scale farmers and pastoralists, particularly in low-income countries. PPR outbreaks can lead to mass deaths of animals, loss of income, and food insecurity, pushing communities into poverty.

While a lot has been done to eradicate the disease, there is still room for more, especially in funding commitments.

Speaking during the event, HE Ambassador Cisse Seydou of Côte d’Ivoire and the coordinator of the Ambassadors friend of the PPR programme, called on all infected and at-risk countries to allocate their own resources for supporting at least 30% of the cost of their national strategic plan.

This is in line with the outcomes of the November 2022 meeting of, Ministers, Ambassadors, and other stakeholders in Rome where the 8 years PPR GEP blueprint with an overall cost of $1,9 billion was approved.

The blueprint seeks to contribute to food security and better nutrition, animal and human health improvement, poverty alleviation, the resilience of livestock-dependent communities, mainstream gender and the economic growth of the affected countries thereby reducing instability, conflicts, and irregular migration.

"The European Union is in the process of evaluating the possible support to the first phase of the Pan African PPR programme, which we aim to conclude by fall 2023, to strengthen the capacity of institutions to respond and coordinate the global PPR eradication in Sub Saharan Africa (SSA)," said HE Alexandra Valkenburg. "We will aim to prepare and organize the vaccination strategy in response to PPR at all stages, clearly highlighting the expected vaccine demand in SSA and establishing the state of play of PPR vaccination as an element in the global strategy for PPR eradication."

Meeting outcomes and recommendations

Some of the meeting outcomes included the emphasis on communication and outreach especially in the preparation of a policy brief highlighting the link between PPR and interrelated global agendas like climate change, food security, strengthening agriculture, gender/youth and strengthening veterinary Services. Additionally, there is a need to increase PPR GEP outreach, especially in light of the upcoming global conference on sustainable livestock transformation, the EU-AU ministerial meeting, and the animal feed conference.

 More liaison with the FAO resources mobilization division (PSR) is needed to prepare guidelines and support for effective resource mobilization options, approaches, tools including donor intelligence and agreement negotiation. At the same time, the liaison is encouraged with IFAD and WFP for more synergies into their action and consider more involvement of IFAD on PPR.

Ultimately, all funding partners are encouraged to invest more resources and be part of the history of eradicating PPR for better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and better life by not leaving anyone behind.