Regional GFTAD
Sunday, 08 March 2009 10:57

In a region that encompasses about 180 million square kilometers which is about a third of the earths surface area, that includes about 25,000 islands with a total population of just under 9 million people, the challenge to maintain and environment that is free of TADS is immense. The large area with its vast borders in themselves offer a huge challenge in trying to police and monitor incursions of TADS.

In a region made up of 22 developing countries, most of whom are categorised as small island developing states and/or least developed countries, the resources available to maintain  normal daily socio-economic needs is often stretched to the limit.

This leaves the majority of our population extremely vulnerable to natural disasters such as tsunamis volcanic eruptions hurricanes and floods. In the past when these disasters have occurred in our region it has been these very populations that have been affected, they do not have any ability to mitigate such situations and face extreme difficulties in recovering from such disasters.

The agricultural sector is often touted as the backbone of the economy of most of our member countries. The livestock sector is an important component of agriculture, providing much needed export revenue for the larger countries, providing vital protein sources for our rural communities, contributing to our food security needs and especially in the Pacific region it plays an important role in our traditions and cultures.

Compared to other regions of the world, our region is relatively free of serious pest and diseases affecting livestock.  It is therefore vitally important that this status is maintained. The PRIPP project funded by both the Australia and New Zealand governments aimed at addressing possible incursions of HPAI is a project which is not only timely but has identified gaps in our preparedness and response capacities and had commenced programmes, directed at addressing these gaps in our preparedness and response and systems and for HPAI and other GF-TADS in the region. However a lot still needs to be done in the region. This GF-TADs initiative by FAO and OIE is therefore timely to build upon the work commenced by the PRIPP project. For more information, please contact Dr Ken Cokanasiga