FAO & OIE kickstart global initiative to stop spread of deadly pig disease
As African swine fever spreads globally, governments, industry & specialists come together to take action
Joint FAO-OIE press release
26 October, 2020, Rome/Paris – As African swine fever (ASF) marches swiftly across countries affecting food security & livelihoods of some of the world’s most vulnerable populations, the Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) & the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) are calling on all nations & partners to join forces to keep this deadly pig disease at bay under a new initiative.
The Global Control of ASF Initiative, recently launched under the GF-TADs umbrella, supports actors at every level to coordinate & strengthen control measures to minimise the impact of this complex & challenging disease.
Bringing together governments, industry & specialists, FAO & OIE will present the Initiative for the first time on a global stage as part of a Call to Action event (26-30 October).
The spread of ASF shows no signs of slowing down. The contagious disease has led to the loss of over 7 million pigs in Asia alone, since sweeping into this region. More than 50 countries in Africa, Asia & Europe are currently affected & the Americas are trying to prevent incursion into their territory.
“Our goal is to prevent the spread – & ultimately eradicate – this disease, leveraging the latest science, best practices & international standards,” said FAO Director-General QU Dongyu in his video message to the participants. “If not controlled, this disease will jeopardize progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals,” he continued calling on all stakeholders to take action to stop the spread of ASF, promote animal health & welfare, & safeguard the livelihoods of farmers.
“Today, no country is safe from African swine fever,” said OIE Director-General Monique Eloit. “The number of countries across the world reporting outbreaks to the OIE continues to grow. This corresponds to the biggest animal disease outbreak of our generation.” She stressed the need for continued investment in veterinary services, & the effective implementation of international standards, particularly those related to biosecurity & surveillance, to bring ASF under global control.
The disease causes up to 100 percent fatality in wild & domestic pigs & there is no effective vaccine. Although not infectious to humans, pig production is critical for many economies, & to the food security & livelihoods of millions of people. The fatal disease continues to extend its reach, causing further damage in the socioeconomic fallout from COVID-19.
As part of a week-long online event, government representatives, veterinarians, & specialists from around the world, will share knowledge & experiences on tools, approaches & state of the art research. Coordinated actions as part of the Initiative will build resilience utilising practical guidance, appropriate to specific needs & contexts.
Call for action
ASF is a complex disease which survives in pork products & persists in the environment for long periods, making control & eradication very difficult. Cases in wild boar are also a concern not only for their potential implication in disease transmission, but also for biodiversity & wildlife management.
Global control of ASF cannot be achieved by one sector or one country alone. Through a coordinated effort, all actors in the pig production chain joining the Global Control of ASF GF-TADs Initiative, can help to:
• protect the livelihoods of vulnerable communities
• safeguard animal health & welfare
• contribute to stabilising the pig production sector as well as meat & feed prices in regional & international trade & thus contribute to food security
• & ensure people access to nutrition to ensure healthy lives & promote wellbeing.
As part of the Global Control of ASF GF-TADs Initiative, FAO & OIE call on Members & partners to:
- Carry out national risk analysis & re-enforce risk management: including contingency planning, prevention, early detection, rapid response, & compensation policies to support industry recovery.
- Maintain a high level of awareness on ASF risk mitigation among farmers, veterinarians, butchers, hunters, input suppliers & other value chain stakeholders.
- Foster & support the implementation of good biosecurity practices, which are key to prevent further spread of ASF.
- Re-enforce & maintain border inspection for prevention of disease spread between countries through illegal practices such as the smuggling of pork, pork products & live animals during travel & migration.
- Finalise research, development & validation of potential vaccines against ASF as well as related vaccination strategy.
- Support the improvement of laboratory diagnostics & rapid screening tools for ASF.
- Develop a holistic approach to ASF control in wildlife – taking all pig-types into account.
- Foster solidarity & cooperation between countries with varying levels of experience, resources, & capacity for ASF prevention & control.
- Foster Public-Private-Partnership for investment in ASF risk mitigation & management.
Read more about what FAO & OIE, under the GF-TADs framework, are doing to help countries curb the spread of ASF.