Inter-regional Meeting Advances Efforts Towards PPR Eradication in Africa

Mon, 29-04-2024 15:00:00

Casablanca, Morocco - April 21st to 23rd, 2024

At the forefront of a determined campaign against one of the most devastating diseases affecting small ruminants across Africa, an essential Inter-regional Economic Community Meeting was convened in Casablanca, Morocco, from April 21–23, 2024. This crucial gathering aimed to discuss regional strategies and initiatives for eradicating Peste des petits ruminants (PPR), as well as to coordinate and mainstream actions for its eradication and the control of major small ruminant diseases in Africa.

The meeting was supported by the European Union and was arranged by AU-IBAR, in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and the Union du Maghreb Arabe (UMA) Secretariat. 41 people were able to participate in critical debates through a hybrid approach, with 31 people in person and 10 participating electronically.

Officers in Charge of Livestock Desks from six Regional Economic Communities (RECs)—EAC, ECCAS, ECOWAS, IGAD/ICPALD, SADC, and UMA—were among the guests. Key players including the FAO sub-regional officer for North Africa, the Director of AU-IBAR, the WOAH Sub-Regional Representative for Eastern Africa, Acting Director of AU-PANVAC, and representatives from Vétérinaires Sans Frontières (VSF)-Belgium, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), and the PPR Global Eradication Programme Secretariat were also in attendance.

Objective and Agenda
The primary goal of the meeting was to enhance continental and regional coordination and harmonization of PPR disease management. Additionally, it aimed to validate the Regional Strategy for the Eradication of PPR and the Control of Priority Small Ruminant Diseases in North Africa. Specific objectives included presenting the Pan African Secretariat for the Eradication of PPR, discussing coordination of PPR eradication initiatives, defining roles of stakeholders, presenting the EU PPR Grant project “EU support to the Eradication of PPR (Peste des petits ruminants) from Africa”, receiving updates on regional strategies and initiatives, stimulating resource mobilization, and developing implementation roadmaps.

Opening Session Highlights
In the course of the opening session, Ambassador Seydou Cissé emphasised the importance of eradicating PPR on a worldwide scale and emphasised the necessity for nations to incorporate PPR into their investment Plans. In order to emphasise the importance of increased collaboration, the Director of AU-IBAR, Dr. Huyam Salih emphasised that the resources that are currently available are insufficient to carry out a well-coordinated effort to eradicate the disease from the continent. The commitment of FAO and the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) to promote the eradication of PPR through regional partnerships was reaffirmed by representatives from both organisations.
Summary of Proceedings and Outcomes
The meeting's agenda unfolded over three days, featuring presentations, plenary sessions, and group discussions. Day one focused on REC presentations of their regional strategies, alongside discussions on various initiatives and support mechanisms. Day two saw presentations from partner organizations such as IAEA, ILRI, and VSF Belgium, covering topics like vaccine production and resource mobilization. The final day included group sessions to enhance inter-REC coordination and validate the regional strategy for North Africa.

Deliberations and Recommendations
Following extensive discussions, the meeting proposed several recommendations aimed at enhancing coordination, collaboration, and resource mobilization for PPR eradication. Key suggestions included reviewing ongoing initiatives, strengthening inter-REC coordination, enhancing workforce capacity, expanding prevention efforts, mainstreaming PPR into national investment plans, promoting awareness, and supporting research.

Speaking on behalf of the RECs, the ECCAS Representative, Dr. Bachirou, expressed gratitude to all of the attendees, partners, organisers, and hosts for making the meeting a success. He emphasised the shared commitment to PPR eradication and specifically praised the EU's funding support and AU-IBAR's coordinating efforts.
The Meeting was officially closed by Mr Musbah Almabrouk Emhimmid Almaghour, the Director of food security at Union Maghreb Arabe. 

Africa's joint efforts to end PPR and manage small ruminant illnesses made great progress with the Inter-regional Economic Community Meeting. Through improved cooperation and coordination as well as deliberate resource mobilisation, the continent becomes one step closer to protecting the livelihoods of millions of small-scale livestock farmers and guaranteeing regional food security in line with continental and global development agenda.

This event was conducted by the Animal Health Unit of AU-IBAR, which leads the 2nd phase of the PanAfrican PPR Programme under the framework of Global Framework for the Progressive Control of Transboundary Animal Diseases (GF-TADS). The unit coordinates efforts to enhance animal health and productivity in Africa. By organizing events like the Inter-regional Economic Community meeting on PPR eradication, it fosters collaboration, capacity-building, and best practices in animal health management. Through partnerships and expertise, the unit ensures regional programs effectively address disease control and surveillance challenges.

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