Transboundary animal diseases (TADs) remain one of the major challenges to livestock trade in the Greater Horn of Africa (GHoA) region. To address these challenges, AU-IBAR and IGAD, with financial support from USAID are implementing the Standard Methods and Procedures in Animal Health (SMP-AH) project in nine countries in the GHoA namely Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. The project is aimed at harmonizing procedures for detection of and response to specified trade‐significant TADs among participating countries so as to provide regional uniformity through the use of the Standard Methods and Procedures approach.
A three- day workshop was held from 30th July to 1st August 2014 to validate four SMPs developed by the project. The main objective of the workshop was: To consider, enrich and validate the SMPs of PPR, FMD, Brucellosis and RVF to ensure that they add value to national and regional disease surveillance and control in support of enhanced regional and inter-regional trade in livestock. As well as discussing the four SMPs, the workshop also helped to create awareness and foster networking of veterinary experts from the GHoA in support of cooperative and collaborative regional control of the TADs.
The workshop was officially opened by Dr Juma Ngeiywa, the Director, Veterinary Services, Kenya, who emphasized the need for the IGAD region and participating Member States on the project to have a unified approach to TADs control. He highlighted the challenges of livestock resources in Kenya as transboundary diseases, livestock raids and lack of vaccination. Dr. Baba Soumare, Chief Animal Health Officer - AU-IBAR, representing the Director of AU-IBAR, Prof. Ahmed Elsawalhy, welcomed the participants and highlighted the importance of livestock resources to the GHoA. Estimated at about 438 million ruminants, livestock resources contribute significantly to the region's economies, food security, livelihoods and poverty reduction. Dr Soumare cited several challenges that hamper development of the livestock sector in Africa including poor policy environment, recurrent droughts, animal diseases and failure to meet SPS standards as required by trading partners. Outlining the purpose of the SMP-AH Project in controlling livestock diseases and ultimately promoting livestock trade in the GHoA region, he acknowledged the financial support of USAID to AU-IBAR and the partnerships of FAO-ECTAD, IGAD and OIE in implementing the project. Dr. Ameha Sebsibe, representing the Director ICPALD-IGAD reported that IGAD was ready and willing to support the implementation of SMPs. Mr. Isaac Thendiu, the USAID representative, urged the SMP-AH project to produce products that would withstand the competing needs for funding and translate into tangible benefits for communities. He emphasized the need to expedite the implementation of country activity plans.
A total of 40 participants came from the GHoA countries, namely Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. AU-IBAR, AU-PANVAC, FAO-ECTAD, ICPALD-IGAD and the OIE also participated. The technical experts included Chief Veterinary Officers, the SMP Technical Working Group and national implementation teams.
SMPs have been developed with the full participation of project countries and partners, hence discussions focused on mainstreaming of validated SMPs into regular livestock programming in order to translate the results of the SMPs into real tangible benefits to livestock keepers. The workshop participants adopted the four developed SMPs with amendments. They further made the following recommendations:
- Member States are encouraged to understand disease status in their countries.
- Validated SMPs should be piloted in cross-border communities by Member States in a collaborative and coordinated manner.
- The Member States should mainstream the validated SMPs in their national disease control activities.
- AU-IBAR and IGAD should organize regular regional annual CVO meetings to review the status and follow- up to assess progress on SMPs' implementation and address technical, policy and institutional constraints that may affect implementation of SMPs.
- The VET-GOV programme addressing the regional contingency and emergency plans should consider working with Members States to implement the SMPs.
- A technical team should be appointed to incorporate the amendments made to the SMPs, publish in all AU-member languages and disseminate them to the Member States by 30th of September, 2014.
- The remaining SMPs on Camelpox, Contagious Bovine Pleuropneumonia (CBPP), Contagious Caprine Pleuropneumonia (CCPP), Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD), Rinderpest (in case of future outbreaks), Sheep and Goat Pox and quarantine should be validated by end of October, 2014.
- IGAD and AU-IBAR to convene a meeting with Ministers responsible for Animal Resources in the participating Member States to discuss, introduce and popularize the validated SMPs in order to mainstream them in their national veterinary services.
In his closing remarks, Dr Soumare commended the group for their excellent work that culminated in the recommendations made. He lauded the SMPs as an approach that takes into consideration the African-specific context and realities. He further noted that following the piloting of the SMPs in the IGAD region, other regions were also eagerly awaiting their SMPs, and to this end, AU-IBAR was already negotiating with partners to include these regions in the project.