Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is an important transboundary animal disease (TAD), severely affecting the production of livestock and disrupting regional and international trade in animals and animal products. The disease, that remains endemic in many African countries, undermines food security and economic development, both at the level of village smallholders and at the more organised production chains supplying urban and export markets.
In order to assist the East Africa region to strengthen the capacity to effectively respond to this devastating disease, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), with the technical support of the European Commission for the control of FMD (EuFMD) held its fourth FMD Roadmap Meeting from 29 to 31 March 2022, organized by the Global Framework for the Progressive Control of Transboundary Animal Diseases (GF-TADs) FMD Working Group. Participant countries included Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Republic of the Sudan, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, the United Republic of Tanzania, and Uganda.
During the three-day meeting, participants strengthened their understanding of the Progressive Control Pathway for Foot and Mouth Disease (PCP-FMD) toolkit, including the PCP-FMD Self-Assessment Tool (SAT) and the PCP-FMD Support Officers (PSO) system to assist and guide countries in the development, submission, implementation and monitoring of national strategies. The meeting also included discussions to identify regional priorities and key support needed by countries from development partners to control FMD and to strengthen their surveillance systems and laboratory capacity and the update of the FMD Regional Advisory Group (RAG) to monitor and follow-up the regional FMD roadmap recommendations.
The new RAG, elected at this meeting (for the next three years) includes Djibouti, Rwanda, and Sudan and will be chaired by the OIE Delegate of Rwanda, Dr. Fabrice Ndayisenga. The RAG is also made up of representatives of the regional epidemiology (EAREN) and laboratories’ (EARLN) networks.
The meeting was held in the presence of the IGAD Centre For Pastoral Areas and Livestock Development (ICPALD), and the East African Community (EAC) Secretariat.
The fourth Roadmap meeting was officially opened by FAO Sub-Regional Coordinator of the FAO Office for Eastern Africa, Dr Ricarda Mondry, who affirmed that “The objective of this workshop is sharing and updating data on the circulation of the FMD virus in the West and Central Africa region, assessing the progress and gaps of each country and to bring together relevant partners to help countries strengthen their surveillance, diagnosis and disease control capacities”.
The OIE Sub-Regional Representative for Eastern Africa, Dr. Samuel Wakhusama, added that “GF-TADs is a progressive process. In the course of this meeting we will have the opportunity of taking stock of the progress made”.
Fabrizio Rosso, Deputy Executive Secretary of the European Commission for the Control of Foot-and-Mouth disease (EuFMD) added that “EuFMD assists countries in progressing along the control of FMD through the Progressive Control Pathway for Foot-and-Mouth Disease (PCP-FMD), virtual learning opportunities, other tools, when and where it is needed”.
On behalf of IGAD ICPALD’s Director, Dr. Ameha Sebsibe, recognised the role of FAO, OIE, member states and partners in the fight against FMD in Eastern Africa and stated the importance of reviewing the FMD prevention and control process and vaccine processes.
In representation of the EAC Secretariat, Mr. David Balikowa, affirmed that neighbouring countries are essential to control FMD spill over, thus the regional strategy for the control and prevention of priority zoonotic diseases is a very important mechanism.
To reduce the impact of FMD worldwide, FAO and OIE developed a Global FMD Control Strategy, endorsed in 2012 by representatives of more than 100 countries and international and regional partners. This strategy is implemented at the national level, while its progress is assessed at the regional level through roadmap platforms, which allow the formulation of harmonised programmes and the exchange of information on FMD virus circulation, vaccination and other control initiatives. Regional roadmaps are organised on the basis of coordinated actions within the Global Framework for the Progressive Control of Transboundary Animal Diseases (GF-TADs), by the GF-TADs FMD working group in collaboration with OIE and FAO regional offices, regional economic communities, regional organizations with the technical and operational support from the European Commission for the Control of FMD (EuFMD).