Global Framework for the progressive control of Transboundary Animal Disease
Sunday, 08 March 2009 10:50

 

The GF-TADs initiative started in response to the major FMD crisis in Europe in early 2000. It became quite clear that when the Asian virus encroached the disease free space in Europe with a major epizootic, it was not possible to prevent similar incursions by building walls to protect the Northern Hemisphere. The best way to address this problem was to approach the control by targeting the source of infection. Addressing the problem at source, which is often in poor farming communities where animal health services are not adequate, is a win win situation. It helps poor farmers to keep their animals healthy, and the developed countries are better assured of the disease free status they want to keep. After a number of discussions and brainstorming sessions with a wide range of partners, the first joint FAO/OIE framework emerged that was referred to as the Global Framework for Progressive Control of FMD. This document then quickly evolved into a formal joint FAO/OIE GF-TADs initiative, which was more generic and addressed all priority TADs globally. This document was formally endorsed in 2004 by both the FAO and OIE member countries. 

This Framework has since served and continues to serve as an umbrella to develop a number of activities related to TADs control through consultative processes including organization of conferences and workshops, and development of specific strategies to control targeted diseases for various reasons. The GF-TADs umbrella has also provided the formulation of a number of disease control platforms at the global level. These include Global Early Warning Systems (GLEWS), OIE/FAO Flu network (OFFLU) and the Crisis Management Centre for Animal Health (CMC-AH). At the regional level establishment of Regional Animal Health Centres (also referred to as Regional Support Units) and Regional Epidemiology Centres with Diagnosis and Surveillance networks are being created to support countries implement prevention and control activities with a regional perspective.

The support of Specialized Regional Organizations such as SAARC, ASEAN and SPC in this region is a key to the success of regional approaches to TADs control. For Specialized Regional Organization to be effective institutional capacity and resources need to be developed and generated. FAO and OIE, with the GF TADs initiative, will continue to address TADs using regional approaches the regional organizations as the core of this concept.

A number of regional consultations have been held in SAARC and ASEAN between 2004 and 2006. The initial focus has obviously been in these sub-regions as they are severely burdened by a number of TADs both of significant economic importance and of great public health concern. During these consultations a number of diseases were prioritised for both regions. These included FMD, PPR and HPAI for the SAARC region, and FMD, CSF and HPAI for the ASEAN region. Also a number of cross cutting issues were identified common to all TADs control and included reinforcement of surveillance, diagnosis, reporting and preparedness for an early response to new outbreaks. 

Since the establishment of GF-TADs, HPAI has been the major disease the region had to deal with. Numerous projects were put in place and FAO took an important role in supporting the countries to prevent and control the disease at regional and national levels. But a lot remains to be done. The emergence of new diseases, due to globalization of movements and global changes, imposes that surveillance systems, capabilities to understand, predict and be able to respond rapidly have to be strengthened.   Control of diseases need to be addressed on a holistic manner including socio-economic dimensions, farming system and market chain information and understanding. Cultural dimensions are also important to consider at the implementation of any prevention and control programme needs a good public-private partnership.

It is also increasingly becoming apparent that more and more of the new emerging diseases are zoonotic. This has been the case with rift valley fever, SARS, Nipah virus, West Nile and many others, without forgetting the devastating H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza which killed millions of poultry since 2004, affected trade, production and small holders’ livelihoods, killed people and may still be the origin of a pandemic.

Addressing the virus H5N1 at source was indispensible and this was recognized in 2005, in Geneva after 2 years of an unbalanced approach for human protection strategies. At the Beijing Conference it was decided that the poultry sector should be the object of determinative activities and this has shown to be the right approach. Nevertheless the virus H5N1 still exists in Asia and few countries remain heavily infected despite of major improvements achieved all over the world with more awareness, surveillance and capability to eliminate the infection.

Because many EIDs are zoonotic, the collaboration between the human and animal health sectors has to be developed. This is what was achieved at the international level with establishment of many joint tools and mechanisms and to some extent in several regions, but there is still room for improvement particularly at the national level. The UN technical agencies (FAO, WHO, UNICEF), the OIE, the interagency coordination UNSIC and World Bank have developed a “One World One Health’ strategy which describes how these intersectional and multidisciplinary approach should be followed. The human health, animal health, ecologist, wildlife specialist and many other experts and officials must collaborate and several intersectoral conferences have already taken place on this one OWOH strategy. This Strategy could not have been more timely given the recent emergence of a new influenza virus, A/H1N1, which is responsible for the present pandemic. Communication and participatory approaches are key elements of tackling such emergencies.

Unlike most of Asia, the Pacific island countries are very fortunate not to have any major infectious disease problems in their livestock. However, in this globalized world incursions can occur quite unexpectedly with unpredictable results. Therefore, the primary objective for this region is to maintain your favourable animal health status so the livestock industry flourishes promoting food security and livelihoods of small holder farming communities. Therefore regional approaches should define clear guidelines for prevention and control of diseases through rapid detection and response before any new disease incursion becomes a problem.