The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) have called for concerted global action to halt the spread of a deadly pig disease, African Swine Fever (ASF).
The agencies called on countries and development partners to join forces to fight the disease through the adoption of the new initiative for the Global Control of African Swine Fever (ASF), a report by FAO said.
According to the report published on the FAO website on Monday, in recent years, ASF, which may cause up to 100 per cent mortality in pigs, has become a major crisis for the pork industry, causing massive losses in pig populations and generating drastic economic consequences.
“Pork is the most consumed meat in the world, representing 35.6 per cent of global meat consumption.
Currently, ASF is affecting several countries of Africa, Asia and the Pacific, and Europe, and with no effective vaccine.
“The disease is not only impeding animal health and welfare but has detrimental impacts on the livelihoods of farmers,” it said.
In the report, the OIE Deputy Director-General for International Standards and Science, Matthew Stone, said: “Today, 51 countries are affected by African swine fever.
“Amid the difficult situation posed by COVID-19, ASF continues to spread, intensifying the current health and socioeconomic crisis,” he said.
“Many countries that are affected by ASF lack sufficient human, financial or technical resources to rapidly detect, respond and contain animal diseases,” the report said.
According to the report, the FAO Deputy Director-General, Maria Helena Semedo, said “In this globalised world, where diseases can spread rapidly across borders, timely sharing of latest scientific information, international collaboration and notification of ASF are needed to prevent the transboundary spread and minimize the impact.
“Coordinated actions as part of the global initiative should take place alongside maintaining transparency regarding reporting of animal diseases and investing in strong and resilient animal health systems,” the report said.
The report noted that on a global scale, the sustained spread of ASF poses a threat to food security, economic and rural development.
“The disease represents a barrier to the agricultural sector to reach its full potential, generate employment and alleviate poverty, and acts as a disincentive to investment in the pig sector.
“Global control of ASF will thus contribute to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, notably Goals 1 No Poverty and 2 Zero Hunger,” it said.
It said “building upon the experience of the long-standing collaboration between the OIE and FAO for the management of animal health-related risks, the joint Global Framework for the Progressive Control of Transboundary Animal Diseases (GF-TADs) developed the global initiative with the aim of fostering national, regional and global partnerships to strengthen control measures and to minimise the impact of this complex and challenging diseases.
“The initiative for the global control of ASF aims to improve the capability of countries to control, prevent, respond and eradicate ASF using OIE international Standards and best practices that are based on the latest science.
“Establish an effective coordination and cooperation framework for the global control of ASF and Facilitate business continuity ensuring safe production and trade to protect food systems,” it said.
It further noted that the global initiative builds on previous regional efforts and follows recommendations of ASF experts from around the world with the aims to strengthen national veterinary services ability to manage risks through the development and implementation of ASF national control programmes, with public and private sectors working in partnership.
“Risk communication with the relevant stakeholders will be a crucial element to effectively address risk pathways and high- risk practices,” it said.