FAO boosts fight against pests in Africa with advanced diagnosis techniques

The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), through its Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD) has strengthened laboratory capacities for diagnosing small ruminants’ pests, commonly referred to as peste des petits ruminants (PPR) in West, East and Southern Africa.

In collaboration with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Centre of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture (CJN, IAEA), FAO says it aims to enhance national veterinary services and improve disease surveillance to effectively combat PPR.

A statement signed and made available to the media by FAO’s communication specialist, David Karls Tsokar, said FAO orchestrated a pivotal workshop on advancing laboratory capabilities for PPR diagnosis hosted by the National Veterinary Research Institute in Vom, Plateau state, Nigeria.

“Supported by the Defence Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) and the European Commission (EC), this five-day hybrid gathering convened from 29 April to 3 May 2024 brought together laboratory experts and technicians from Burundi, Eswatini, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Rwanda, and Zimbabwe.

“Eradicating PPR and Strengthening Veterinary Services for Small Ruminants, The Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR) Global Control and Eradication Strategy, endorsed in 2015, underscores the imperative of eradicating PPR by 2030 and strengthening veterinary services to mitigate the impact of infectious diseases among small ruminants.

“To achieve these objectives, countries must advance through the stages of assessment, control, eradication, and maintenance of an official PPR-free status. At the heart of this strategy lies the enhancement of laboratory capacities for PPR diagnosis.

“Effective diagnostic systems are vital for promptly detecting suspected cases, confirming outbreaks, identifying circulating strains, and monitoring vaccine effectiveness,” the statement said.

According to him, “Empowering Africa to catalyze changes Participants gained further knowledge on the PPR global eradication program, molecular epidemiology and diagnosis of PPR through hands-on laboratory training on diagnostic methods and sequencing.

This initiative not only reinforces regional disease surveillance but also aligns with the broader goal of achieving a PPR-free status by 2030, promoting the health of small ruminants and enhancing global food security.