FAO, OIE kick off initiative to stop the spread of African swine fever

More than 50 countries in Africa, Asia and Europe are currently affected and the Americas are trying to prevent incursion into their territory.

October 26, 2020

4 Min Read
FAO, OIE kick off initiative to stop the spread of African swine fever
Plum Island Animal Disease Center

As African swine fever marches swiftly across countries affecting food security and livelihoods of some of the world's most vulnerable populations, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the World Organization for Animal Health are calling on all nations and partners to join forces to keep this deadly pig disease at bay under a new initiative.

The Global Control of ASF Initiative, recently launched under the Global Framework for the Progressive Control of Transboundary Animal Diseases' umbrella, supports actors at every level to coordinate and strengthen control measures to minimize the impact of this complex and challenging disease.

Bringing together governments, industry and specialists, FAO and OIE will present the Initiative for the first time on a global stage as part of a Call to Action event (Oct. 26-30).

The spread of ASF shows no signs of slowing down. The contagious disease has led to the loss of over 7 million pigs in Asia alone, since sweeping into this region. More than 50 countries in Africa, Asia and Europe are currently affected and the Americas are trying to prevent incursion into their territory.

"Our goal is to prevent the spread - and ultimately eradicate - this disease, leveraging the latest science, best practices and international standards," says FAO Director-General QU Dongyu. "If not controlled, this disease will jeopardize progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals." He calls on all stakeholders to take action to stop the spread of ASF, promote animal health and welfare, and safeguard the livelihoods of farmers.

"Today, no country is safe from African swine fever," says OIE Director-General Monique Eloit. "The number of countries across the world reporting outbreaks to the OIE continues to grow. This corresponds to the biggest animal disease outbreak of our generation." She stresses the need for continued investment in veterinary services, and the effective implementation of international standards, particularly those related to biosecurity and surveillance, to bring ASF under global control.

The disease causes up to 100% fatality in wild and domestic pigs and there is no effective vaccine. Although not infectious to humans, pig production is critical for many economies, and to the food security and livelihoods of millions of people. The fatal disease continues to extend its reach, causing further damage in the socioeconomic fallout from COVID-19.

As part of a week-long online event, government representatives, veterinarians and specialists from around the world, will share knowledge and experiences on tools, approaches and state of the art research. Coordinated actions as part of the Initiative will build resilience utilizing practical guidance, appropriate to specific needs and contexts.

Call for action
ASF is a complex disease which survives in pork products and persists in the environment for long periods, making control and eradication very difficult. Cases in wild boar are also a concern not only for their potential implication in disease transmission, but also for biodiversity and wildlife management.

Global control of ASF cannot be achieved by one sector or one country alone.  Through a coordinated effort, all actors in the pig production chain joining the Global Control of ASF GF-TADs Initiative, can help to:

• Protect the livelihoods of vulnerable communities
• Safeguard animal health and welfare
• Contribute to stabilizing the pig production sector as well as meat and feed prices in regional and international trade and thus contribute to food security
• Ensure people access to nutrition to ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing

As part of the Global Control of ASF GF-TADs Initiative, FAO and OIE call on members and partners to:

• Carry out national risk analysis and re-enforce risk management: including contingency planning, prevention, early detection, rapid response and compensation policies to support industry recovery.
• Maintain a high level of awareness on ASF risk mitigation among farmers, veterinarians, butchers, hunters, input suppliers and other value chain stakeholders.
• Foster and support the implementation of good biosecurity practices, which are key to prevent further spread of ASF.
• Re-enforce and maintain border inspection for prevention of disease spread between countries through illegal practices such as the smuggling of pork, pork products and live animals during travel and migration.
• Finalize research, development and validation of potential vaccines against ASF as well as related vaccination strategy.
• Support the improvement of laboratory diagnostics and rapid screening tools for ASF.
• Develop a holistic approach to ASF control in wildlife - taking all pig-types into account.
• Foster solidarity and cooperation between countries with varying levels of experience, resources and capacity for ASF prevention and control.
• Foster public-private-partnership for investment in ASF risk mitigation and management.       

Read more about what FAO and OIE, under the GF-TADs framework, are doing to help countries curb the spread of ASF.

Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the World Organization for Animal Health, which is solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly owns the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.


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