ASUNCIÓN, PARAGUAY — More than 500 participants at the O.I.E./F.A.O. Global Conference on Foot-and-Mouth Disease, which recently took place in Asunción, Paraguay, set global strategies to help eradicate this deadly and costly disease.

Foot-and-mouth disease (F.M.D.) has been a serious global threat to the health and welfare of the domestic and wild animal ruminant and swine population for centuries. Countries infected with F.M.D. are more prone to food insecurity as a result of the impact of F.M.D. at household level and through reduced access to local, national and international markets and of animal draught power for agriculture.

Seventy countries are already officially recognized by the O.I.E. as F.M.D.-free, with or without vaccination, while more than 100 countries are still either considered as endemically or sporadically infected with the disease.

During the meeting, participants recognized global control of F.M.D. would be a costly and long-term process relying heavily on the sustainable availability of sufficient public and private financial resources from governments, producers and market chain actors, and the international donor community.

They also recognized there is an urgent need for research in cost-effective vaccines to improve the access of countries to good-quality vaccines fit to counter the prevailing field strains of the F.M.D. virus in each virus reservoir, in each relevant species.

A global strategy for F.M.D. should incorporate and acknowledge existing and ongoing national and regional mechanisms that have already achieved progress in moving towards the regional control of F.M.D., such as those of the Hemispheric F.M.D. Eradication Plan for bi- or tri-national border zones, the C.V.P./M.E.R.C.O.S.U.R., S.E.A.F.M.D., European Union and the E.U.F.M.D.

More research is needed on developing effective and quality vaccines at diminished cost for all prevailing field strains of the F.M.D. virus for all susceptible domestic animals.

The O.I.E., with the support of F.A.O. and in collaboration with the international donor community, should consider establishing vaccine banks for F.M.D. vaccines in strategic locations and in support of regional F.M.D. control programs. Diagnostic facilities should also be established for the quick and efficient diagnosis of F.M.D.