Meeting addresses global approach to F.M.D. control

by Bryan Salvage
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ASUNCIÓN, PARAGUAY — More than 500 attendees at the Global Conference on Foot-and-Mouth-Disease were told of new efforts to gain global control of the livestock disease. Delegates from the World Organization for Animal Health (O.I.E.) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (F.A.O.) were among the attendees.

Currently, more than 100 developing countries are currently not F.M.D.-free, which causes ripple effects on food security because of shortage of high-value proteins such as meat and milk. F.M.D. deriving impacts are seen on poverty in many developing countries as well as on safety of trade of animals and animal products.

Importance of this disease is ranked "high" by O.I.E. and F.A.O. because of its negative effects on national economies of infected member countries and territories, and by association because of its negative repercussions on development and poverty reduction. Infected countries also potentially threaten re-infection to F.M.D.-free countries.

Conference participants recognized a need for global accessibility to appropriate quality vaccines against F.M.D., especially for developing countries. They also recommended efforts be increased on communication and public awareness campaigns for a full involvement and commitment by high level policy makers and farmers, and advocated for the continuous strengthening of national veterinary services in compliance with O.I.E. standards on quality.

Conference delegates recognized a global long-term program must be launched with a strong political commitment from governments, international and regional organizations.

Participants also discussed adopting a progressive control pathway and agreed on regional roadmaps, which propose a set of long-term actions focusing on appropriate national legislation, surveillance, vaccination and diagnostic methods targeted at different regions of the world that act as different virus pools for the disease.

Mercosur countries of South America, South-East Asia (S.E.A.F.M.D.) and the European Union are already implementing very efficient F.M.D.-control plans, but other pools in Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe remain to be addressed and internationally supported.

Programs will be deployed regionally for a better access to and quality of F.M.D. vaccines and diagnostic tests both complying with O.I.E. quality standards as well as for surveillance and control strategies of the disease.

The conference identified that where only national strategies were in place, the disease could be easily reintroduced via trans-boundary trade exchanges or movement of people, which further justifies a global and regional approach to controlling and eradicating the disease worldwide.

On the basis of O.I.E.’s ongoing work in reinforcing veterinary services’ capacities, using the O.I.E. Tool for the Evaluation of Performance of Veterinary Services, the experts highlighted the importance of developing good veterinary governance and compliance of national veterinary services with O.I.E. standards on quality as a key condition to reach the objectives of F.M.D. global control.

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