GF-TADs for Africa

Inaugural ASF Standing Group of Experts (SGE) meeting agrees on 24 months' work programme

This inaugural meeting was organised as a result of the adoption in October 2021 of the terms of reference for the Africa-region Standing Group of Experts (SGE) for African Swine Fever (ASF) by the 10th  Regional Steering Committee (RSC-10) of the GF-TADs for Africa. The SGE-ASF for Africa aims to promote regular exchange of information and best practices among concerned national veterinary authorities, international and national experts, and the private sector.

Overall, 70 individuals registered for the meeting and – over the two days – 65 attended. Amongst the OIE Delegates (founding Members), one can mention Honoré Nlemba – Mabela (Democratic Republic of Congo), Vessaly Kallo (Cote d’Ivoire), Botlhe Michael Modisane (South Africa), Daniel Batasse Batawui (Togo), Anne-Rose Ademun (Uganda) and the new OIE Delegate from Nigeria, Dr Maimuna Habib.

Picture (c) S. Kahariri (DVS Kenya) 2021

From the OIE Delegates, attending as observers and possible future Members were : Ana Lina Pereira (Cabo Verde) and Drissa Coulibaly (Mali). Also in attendance were ASF subject-matter experts, AU-IBAR, AU-PANVAC, ECOWAS (RAHC), FAO and OIE.

The inaugural meeting was opened by Dr Nick Nwankpa, acting Director of AU-IBAR and Director of AU-PANVAC (and Chair of the GF-TADs for Africa Regional Steering Committee), Dr Karim Tounkara, OIE Representative Regional Representation for Africa, Secretary of the GF-TADs for Africa (Regional Steering Committee) and Dr Charles Bebay, Vice-President of the GF-TADs for Africa RSC, Regional Manager ECTAD East Africa of the FAO, all of whom delivered remarks highlighting the need for closer collaboration between member countries and that this Standing Group of Experts could serve as model for all the other TADs programmes in the region.

The meeting began with an introduction of the terms of reference of the SGE by Dr Patrick Bastiaensen, on behlf of the Secretary of the GF-TADs for Africa, followed by a presentation on the Global Initiative for African swine fever and its activities by Dr Andriy Rozstalnyy, Co-Chair of the GF-TADs ASF Working Group (FAO).

Dr Paolo Tizzani of the OIE World Animal Health Information and Analysis Department (WAHIAD) presented an overview of the global distribution of ASF and trends, based on OIE-WAHIS reporting. Most of the founding member countries presented an overview of the ASF situation within their respective countries as follows :

  1. Cameroon, Dr Jean-Marc Feussom
  2. Côte d’Ivoire, Dr Douyeri Thierry Ouattara
  3. Democratic Republic of Congo, Dr Florent Ngamuna
  4. Kenya, Dr Sam Kahariri
  5. Nigeria, Dr Maimuna Habib (new OIE Delegate of Nigeria)
  6. South Africa, Dr Livio Heath
  7. Uganda, Dr Paul Lumu

Picture (c) P. Bastiaensen (oie) 2007.

Sharing some of the lessons learnt from the work of the SGEs in other regions, presentations were delivered by  Dr Bernard Van Goethem, President of the RSC for Europe (and Director Animal Health at the European Commission’s DG-SANTE, Brussels) and Dr Caitlin Holley, Programme Officer at the OIE Regional Representation for Asia and the Pacific and officer-in-charge of the Regional GF-TADs Secretariat for the SGE-ASF for Asia-Pacific (Tokyo).

On the second day, Dr Fredrick Kivaria, Regional Epidemiologist of FAO-ECTAD Eastern Africa, presented an update on the ongoing revision of the 2017 Regional strategy for the control of African swine fever in Africa.

Dr Sharon Tsigadi of Farmer’s Choice Ltd in Kenya shared the private sector perspective and feedback on the draft work plan while Dr Livio Heath, Designated Expert of the OIE ASF Reference Laboratory at the Onderstepoort facility in South Africa presented the diagnostic challenges with regards to ASF. The meeting ended with two presentations of the relevant ASF portals on the global and regional GF-TADs websites

Challenges 

Through the presentations by countries and subject-matter experts, as well as sharing of experiences from the two SGE-ASF for Asia-Pacific, and Europe, the Members of the SGE-ASF for Africa identified the following challenges faced by the region in ASF control: 

  • Informal cross border trade and transit of pig and pork products, leading to the spread of ASF ;
  • Lack of information exchange between countries on ASF situation which could be relevant for neighbouring countries and important for the management of the ASF in the region  ;
  • Poor biosecurity and husbandry practices and lack of awareness of ASF along the value chain (on-farm, at slaughter, when processing)  ;
  • Weak early detection systems whereby detection of ASF is delayed or not detected ;
  • Inadequate outbreak response including inappropriate disposal and disinfection  ;
  • Lack of financial incentives for farmers to comply with ASF control measures (compensation) ;
  • Continued sylvatic ASFV circulation and movement of wild suids that propagate the spread of ASF.

Resulting from the various presentations made on day one and the comments from the private sector representative, Dr Sharon Tsigadi (Farmers’ Choice Ltd KE), the following considerations were drafted, and technical items or topics identified, based on country presentations, regional presentations (Europe and Asia-Pacific) and the comments of (private sector) representatives and scientific experts, to guide the work of the SGE over the next 12 – 24 months, depending on the frequency of meetings —

Considering:

  1. The revised African Union Regional strategy for the control of African swine fever in Africa (AU-IBAR, FAO, ILRI)
  2. That strict biosecurity is important for the control of ASF, Founding Member Countries of the SGE are urged to work with key private and public sector entities to enhance biosecurity and implement this along the value chain;
  3. That control of ASF will be facilitated with the development of safe and efficacious vaccines, research institutions and the pharmaceutical industry are urged to prioritise the development of such vaccine(s) in their short- to mid-term R&D strategies;
  4. That national Reference Laboratories in Founding Member Countries of the SGE are encouraged to interact and where possible to join the regional laboratory network for ASF in Southern Africa, initiated by the OIE Reference Laboratory at ARC-OVR in Onderstepoort, South Africa;

…the following technical items or topics were identified (in order of priority and logic/sequence of implementation) with comments (where appropriate) on possible secondary items or topics, some of which apply to several identified topics:

 

1.     Value chains Understanding the production features and value chains in Africa

 

  • Backyard sector (extensive);
  • Small holder (semi-intensive);
  • Industrial (intensive) sectors.

 

2.     Biosecurity Strengthen biosecurity for the control of ASF along the value chain

 

  • Development of best practices
  • Management of swill feeding;
  • Training on biosecurity using existing available guidelines.

 

3.     Surveillance Enhanced surveillance and diagnostic capabilities for ASF control

 

  • Enhancing surveillance in domestic and wild pigs (novel tools);
  • Diagnostic capabilities (proficiency testing);
  • (Sub)regional networks (CVOs, laboratories);
  • Field-based challenges to reporting (poor recognition of clinical signs, fear of stamping-out measures, lack of restocking or compensation schemes);
  • Field-based reporting requirements or tools (EMA-i – FAO, others);
  • Risk communication (awareness in producers and actors in value chain).

 

4.     Outbreak management Outbreak response capability and capacity for ASF control

 

  • Training on 3Ds (depopulation, disposal, decontamination);
  • Financial incentives such as compensation of farmers, restocking and insurance schemes;
  • Compensation plans (CP) as part of emergency preparedness and response plans;
  • Risk communication (awareness in producers and actors in value chain).

 

5.     Socio-economics Regional ASF risk assessment and socio-economic impact for effective prevention, control and evidence-based advocacy

 

 
6.     Cross-border Official border control measures and informal cross-border transit and trade of pigs and pig products, leading to spread of ASF
  • Official border control measures;
  • Standards and the national regulatory framework;
  • Informal trade and movement of pigs and pig products across borders;
  • Appropriate regulatory frameworks;
  • Risk communication.

 

7.     Policy Policy issues, control strategies and National and Regional Strategic Plans

 

  • Prevention and control strategies;
  • Compartmentalisation and trade facilitation (business continuity);
  • Appropriate legislation and regulations;
  • National Strategic Plans;
  • Regional Strategic Plans.

 

8.     Transparency Issues related to transparency and sharing of information between neighbouring countries and with trading partners

 

  • Understanding the importance of timely submission of immediate notifications and six-monthly reporting to the OIE through OIE-WAHIS;
  • (Sub)regional networks (CVOs, laboratories)

 

 

Regarding the frequency and hosting of upcoming meetings, it was clarified that :

  1. Every upcoming meeting will only deal with one of the 8 above-mentioned topics;
  2. Subject to availability of funds and the easing of Coronavirus related travel restrictions, face to face meetings will be progressively encouraged;
  3. Founding Member Countries will be invited to host on a rotational basis (and chair the meeting). The representative of Cameroon will enquire whether it is feasible to host the first face-to-face session of the SGE later this year;
  4. The next SGE meeting (2) will be online and will address a topic that can best be presented through an online format;
  5. The frequency of SGE ASF meetings hasn’t been detailed, but 8 topics to be addressed in the next 24 months at most, represents a frequency of 3 months between sessions.

Furthermore, a dedicated SGE page has been opened of the GF-TADs for Africa website in order to facilitate the sharing of information : African Swine Fever – Standing Group of Experts (SGE) – OIE – Africa

GF-TADs for Africa

This was an activity of the FAO - OIE Global Framework for the progressive control of Transboundary Animal Diseases, in cooperation with the African Union

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Standing Group of Experts

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