Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in West and Central Africa: stakeholders meet for increased vigilance in the poultry sector


From 15 to 17 December, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has convened a regional consultation with the stakeholders of the poultry sector from West and Central Africa on risk management for the prevention and control of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) along the poultry sector value chain. The meeting is jointly organized with the Government of Senegal as part of the Emerging Pandemic Threats program (EPT-2) funded by United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and aims to finalize a regional emergency program for the prevention and control of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza.

More than fifty experts from some ten countries in West and Central Africa have met in Dakar, including representatives of veterinary services and of the private sector, as well as representatives of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and international institutions, including the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

On the sidelines of this meeting, the Ambassador of the United States, M. James P. Zumwalt, on behalf of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA/APHIS) officially awarded the FAO Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Disease (ECTAD) for its work in promoting animal health systems in West and Central Africa. ECTAD was established in Bamako, Mali, in December 2006 by the FAO Director-General, in the context of the FAO’s commitment to the control of HPAI,. The Centre brings together experts in animal health, socio-economics, production systems and social communication to assist governments to respond effectively to the challenges of transboundary animal diseases.

“I would like to pay tribute to the successful collaboration between the FAO Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of the US Department of Agriculture, and to many others who contributed to the regional monitoring and diagnosis network (RESOLAB),” said Mr. Zumwalt. He praised all the stakeholders that attended the award presentation and welcomed the participation, cooperation and partnership spirit that drives them.

Encouraging dialogue for a better response

This regional consultation aims to enable stakeholders to agree on actions to be taken at critical control points along the value chain, with a view to better manage the risks associated with HPAI in the sub-region. FAO and its partners think that it is necessary to strengthen coordination and dialogue between the various stakeholders to facilitate the implementation of preventive measures at national and regional levels.

“Poultry farming is also one of the five priority sectors of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) and it carries hope for the resilience of the disadvantaged in terms of malnutrition in general and the lack of animal protein in particular,” said Aminata Mbengue Ndiaye, Minister of Livestock and Animal Production of Senegal, at the opening of the meeting.

Vincent Martin, FAO Representative in Senegal, stressed the contribution of the poultry sector in the national and local economies. “The importance of the poultry sector is well established. It contributes to promoting job creation in this promising and growing field. In rural areas, family poultry contributes to the enhancement of people’s livelihoods and to women’s empowerment,” he added.

In response to the increasing demand as the sector is witnessing a strong growth, both have called for vigilance in the sub-region to better protect the sector.

In West and Central Africa, the difficulty related to the control of HPAI primarily lies in the inadequate implementation of effective prevention and control measures under conditions that are socially and economically acceptable by all stakeholders (including public and private).

The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) reports on the Performance of Veterinary Services and FAO’s preparation missions in the control of HPAI all stressed the sensitivity of risk management uncoordinated efforts between the public and private sectors on the one hand, and between the countries of the sub-region on the other hand.

FAO’s objective in organizing this meeting is therefore to facilitate the development of national risk management plans that are economically and socially acceptable by stakeholders from the private sector and public authorities. These plans will contribute to the finalization of the regional emergency program for the prevention and control of HPAI, whose guidelines have already been discussed during the emergency consultation for the prevention and control of HPAI, organized by FAO and ECOWAS on 15 and 16 June 2015 in Abuja, Nigeria.

Ms. Mbengue Ndiaye considers this meeting to be timely. She has therefore called on the participants to make recommendations that will help to better protect the poultry sector value chain and address the threats it faces.

About the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI)

Since the first incursion of the HPAI H5N1 virus in the region in 2006, the poultry sector has undergone major changes in West and Central Africa. These changes affect the increase in production (with an annual average growth of 10% in the last decade), volume, structure and diversity of traded poultry products. These changes also account for the arrival of new stakeholders, which must be taken into account in the design and implementation of prevention and control measures against HPAI.

The Emerging Pandemic Threats (EPT-2) program is a programme for emerging and re-emerging diseases control supported by USAID. It was out of a funding agreement signed on 20 October 2015 in Rome between FAO (represented by its Director-General, José Graziano da Silva), and the US Ambassador in Italy. This 87 million dollars global program will finance epidemiological studies, reduction of the risks related to these diseases and the strengthening of collaboration between experts in animal health and in human health. In West and Central Africa, the USAID funding will enable FAO to strengthen country capacities for prevention and emergency response to contain the spread of the HPAI H5N1 virus, to identify potential reservoirs of Ebola vectors and similar virus diseases, and to better understand the possible role of livestock in the transmission of this disease. The operational modalities for the implementation of this program have been the subject of preliminary discussions held on 30 November 2015 in Lomé (Togo) on the sidelines of a meeting of FAO Representatives on social protection.

Source: Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)


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