International organisation leads global call to action against African Swine Fever

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) is leading a global call to action against African Swine Fever in April this year.

The call to action will involve specialists from industry, research, academia, and regional and international partners.

In December last year, veterinary and animal health government officers from 14 Pacific Islands countries and territories gathered in Noumea, New Caledonia to discuss ways to protect the region from transboundary animal diseases.

During the three day meeting in Noumea, participants from Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Cook Islands, French Polynesia, Tonga, New Zealand, Australia, Timor Leste, Federate State of Micronesia, Kiribati and New Caledonia shared their national experiences.

The countries discussed notifiable diseases and epidemiological surveillance programs based on the Global Framework for the Progressive Control of Transboundary Animal Diseases Initiative.

The Pacific region imports about 80-90 per cent of its food resources from other countries with transboundary diseases being a permanent threat for the region. The Noumea conference meeting was jointly organized by the F.A.O.,the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the Pacific Community (S.P.C).

Katinka de Balough of F.A.O. reportedly said in December that the region is free of most of the transboundary animal diseases, but still sees risks increasing rapidly everyday.

“The introduction of transboundary animal and zoonotic diseases could not only impact the health of animals but directly impact people’s lives and livelihoods'' says Ms de Balogh, who is a senior animal health and production officer from the U.N.F.A.O. Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific. 

The Noumea meeting dealt with the risks of African Swine Fever and described it as a devastating disease that affects pigs with no efficient prevention methods. The only means of control is through the elimination of infected pig populations and strict control in the movement of animals and pork products.

Massive losses of swine and pork products have been recorded due to the disease, making it economically devastating in countries with developed commercial pig farming. However, countries with extensive pig production also suffer from epidemics, with implications for pork prices and availability, livelihoods, and securing investments.

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