Strategic Programme 1 : Animal Health, Disease Prevention and Control Systems

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To strengthen veterinary governance and animal health systems for increased productivity, improved food and nutritional security, enhanced food safety and trade and public health protection.

The context

The intensification of food production, increased volume and speed of travel and transportation of people, animals and their products across continental, regional and national borders are complex and interrelated factors that contribute to the transmission of TADs. The continued endemic status of TADs and zoonoses in Africa, the increased public awareness and concerns about food safety and quality, coupled with weak veterinary and public health services pose great challenges to market access, threaten public health and optimal development of animal resources in Africa.

Enhancement of animal health and disease-control systems remain vital for Africa. Improvement in the overall veterinary governance, strengthened by capacity building in disease prevention and control, improved surveillance systems and laboratory diagnosis, are critical ingredients in developing functional and integrated disease control systems. This approach aims to promote the livelihoods of animal resource dependent communities. Creation of knowledge and disease control tools through cost benefit and socio-economic analysis, development and improvement of vaccines and diagnostic tools, enhanced data gathering, information generation, knowledge management, sharing and networking, and better understanding of the changing patterns of animal diseases would guarantee holistic approaches in the design of disease prevention and control strategies. Such all-inclusive strategies, when implemented in a well-coordinated manner, would effectively reduce the occurrence of TADs and zoonoses and concurrently assure rapid responses.

Key result areas

1. Veterinary governance and animal health systems strengthened

The institutional environment in most of the veterinary services in AU MSs is not favorable to the provision of affordable, accessible and sustainable quality veterinary services. This is mainly a result of weak policy environment and inadequate investment in the sector.

Under this result area, AU-IBAR will support MSs to reinforce good governance of veterinary services and strengthen core competencies in accordance with the findings and recommendations of the OIE PVS evaluations. This will include:

  • Support to RECs, regional organizations and MSs in mapping,analysing, formulating and harmonizing animal health policies, legislation and strategies;
  • Facilitate the establishment and operationalization of national and regional livestock policy dialogue platforms (hubs) for sustainable stakeholder-wide review, formulation of policies and legislation;
  • Improve and expand accessibility of animal health services to livestock producers through broader participation of private sector and outreach services;
  • Improve skills and knowledge of both private and public animal health professionals through training and capacity development. Interventions will build on previous achievements and established institutional structures to ensure sustainability;
  • Promote good veterinary governance including appropriate policy and legislative frameworks, human and financial resources and physical infrastructure;
  • Strengthen core competences of the national and regional animal health institutions mostly in the fields of disease surveillance, reporting, diagnostic, emergency preparedness and response;
  • Facilitate the engagement of private sector in the delivery of animal health services through enhancing public-private-partnerships;
  • Strengthen capacities of RECs and MSs for disease information management and reporting, and for the utilisation of ARIS as well its inter-operability with global and regional information systems;
  • Support MSs and RECs to identify knowledge gaps, develop/customize tools and access new technology to enhance disease surveillance, diagnosis and control;
  • Collaborate with relevant partners and academic institutions in developing and implementing training programs and continuous learning curricula for animal health personnel, in order to improve the technical and managerial capacity of animal health systems.

2. Prevention and control of, and emergency response to priority TADs, emergencies and zoonoses enhanced

"Passive surveillance" has been the only means affordable to Directors of Veterinary Services (DVS) to monitor animal disease outbreaks. The approach remains a great source of disease information used for developing the national control/eradication programmes. Many countries are not able to carry out active surveillance activities when required because of the high cost involved. As a result, veterinary services are unable to detect and respond on time to disease outbreaks and other health threats, and to successfully control TADs, many of which become endemic in various parts of the continent.

In addition, most national veterinary services lack early warning and rapid response systems as well as horizon scanning for disease epidemics and other animal health-related emergencies, and public health emergencies.

Under this result area, the aim for the priority TADs of livestock, wildlife, bees and fish is to:

  • Coordinate and facilitate formulation of the continental and regional /REC strategies and frameworks for the prevention and control of major TADs in livestock, wildlife, bees and fish.
  • Initiate, coordinate and provide technical support for the development, implementation and evaluation of the continental and regional strategies and programmes for the control of selected priority diseases. Priority focus will be given to PPR, ASF, ND CBPP and high-impact emerging TADs and zoonoses.
  • Mobilize resources, execute and evaluate surveillance, diagnostic, early warning and emergency response activities for the control and progressive eradication of the selected diseases.
  • Support development of emergency preparedness and contingency plans, mobilize resources and provide timely response to disease emergencies.
  • Strengthen bio-security, and promote good and safe practices in particular in poultry, bees and fish farming for effective disease control.
  • Enhance disease reporting and sanitary information management and sharing to support timely disease prevention and control.
  • Collect, collate, analyse and share disease information to facilitate coordination and harmonisation of disease management procedures.
  • Promote coordinated and harmonized approaches at the national and regional levels to enhance effectiveness and sustainability of interventions.
  • Facilitate the adoption and utilisation of disease prioritization tools and selection of major TADs and zoonoses in livestock, wildlife, bees and fish farming.
  • Cooperate with relevant academic and research institutions to identify research needs to support successful formulation and implementation of disease prevention and control strategies and programmes.
  • Coordinate and support studies to generate knowledge on socio-economic impact of priority TADs to increase support and improve control.

3. Veterinary public health (VPH) and One Health approach strengthened

There is increasing awareness and concerns among the general public and consumers over food safety and zoonotic threats, hence the growing demand for stronger veterinary public health services that effectively contribute to the protection of human health. In order to ensure safety of food of animal origin and safeguard public health, AU-IBAR will support MSs in strengthening VPH capacities in the areas of food inspection, prevention and control of zoonotic diseases, early detection of toxins and anti-microbial residues, rapid alert and response, and management of other public health threats. This will be achieved through:

  • Strengthening surveillance, prevention and control of zoonotic diseases and emerging pathogens with pandemic potential.
  • Monitoring anti-microbial and other drug and pesticide residues. Bio-security and animal production good practices and safety standards will be promoted to minimize risk of transmission of pathogens to humans.
  • Promoting and supporting the establishment of collaborative coordination mechanisms at the national, regional and continental levels between animal and public health sectors for efficient, timely response and effective management of zoonoses.
  • Fostering inter-sectoral collaboration and promoting the One Health approach as an important tool to ensure effectiveness of VPH interventions.
  • Promoting and coordinating review and reform of health policies and legislation for adoption of the One Health approach.
  • Fostering formal cooperation between Ministries of Health and Animal Resources and joint development of strategies to adequately address zoonotic and food safety threats.
  • Strengthening core functions of veterinary public health, including integrated food safety monitoring and residues control in animal-source foods (ASFs).
  • Identifying and prioritizing zoonoses and food safety threats at MS and REC levels. Primary focus could be on Rabies, Tuberculosis, HPAI and emerging zoonotic threats of major importance.
  • Facilitating and coordinating the development and implementation of programmes and projects for the prevention and mitigation of selected zoonotic diseases, food safety challenges, and epidemiological surveillance of food-borne diseases.
  • Promoting One Health initiatives in Africa, spearheading networking and consensus building among stakeholders for effective inter-sectoral collaboration.

4. Compliance with animal health and animal welfare standards enhanced

The improvement of the sanitary certification systems and the need for compliance with domestic and international sanitary standards places high demands on the financial, human and technological resources of countries engaging in trade in animal commodities. This will involve providing technical and institutional support to RECs and AU MSs in understanding, reviewing and contributing to sanitary, welfare and veterinary education standards setting process. This result will be achieved through:

  • Supporting capacities of MSs to implement sanitary measures and monitoring compliance with regional and international standards. More specifically, support will be provided to MSs to enhance compliance with standards in such areas as disease control, surveillance, laboratory diagnosis, trade, vaccine production, animal feed standards, safety of food of animal origin, registration of drugs, certification and traceability. This will be achieved through strengthened national and regional regulatory frameworks and using standardized methods and procedures (SMPs) as frameworks for regional harmonisation of disease surveillance and control.
  • Supporting the RECs to ensure the harmonization of the SPS frameworks and capacity building, of the regional SPS common positions and the implementation of regional SPS regulations as well as the storage of critical scientific data. The AU will collaborate with the RECs in developing SPS policies frameworks that harmonize and integrate SPS issues while being consistent with the SPS Agreement of the World Trade Organization.
  • Raising awareness of stakeholders over animal welfare guidelines and standards and also championing and coordinating capacity building for compliance with these standards at all level of the value chain.
  • Enhancing the institutional capacity of MSs and RECs to apply and regulate the implementation of animal health, welfare and VPH standards.
  • Collaborating with the OIE and supporting MSs to create awareness and establish systems to monitor the application of animal welfare guidelines and standards.
  • Supporting RECs and MSs to develop and implement adaptive animal health certification and traceability approaches.
  • Strengthening capacities of MSs to sustain their effective participation in international standard setting process and to support their national SPS committees as decided by the Heads of State of the AU.
  • Facilitating meetings and providing technical support to African experts and officials in animal health and food safety areas to develop coordinated and common positions for participation in standard setting processes.
  • Promoting the use of available standards and principles such as compartmentalization, principle of equivalence, commodity-based trade, certification and concepts such as traceability to boost regional trade.

5. Outcomes and impacts

The main outcomes will be the following:

  • Enhanced animal health and sustainable animal disease surveillance and control systems;
  • Improved knowledge on the epidemiology and control of TADs and zoonoses;
  • Improved understanding of socio-economic impact of animal diseases and feasibility of control measures/interventions;
  • Improved prevention, control and eradication of major TADs and zoonoses;
  • Enhanced disease emergency support;
  • Established coordinated and harmonized animal health policies, strategies, standard, methods and regulations;
  • Improved standards of animal welfare and compliance;
  • Increased market access, competitiveness in food trade and higher production levels and
  • Safeguarded public health.