The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH), SADC and AU-IBAR work together towards controlling and eradicating Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR) in southern Africa

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The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH), SADC and the African Union – InterAfrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) hosted the Third Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR) Roadmap meeting followed by a training on risk-based approaches for PPR prevention and emergency response in historically free SADC countries.

Background

Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR) is a highly contagious and widespread viral disease that continues to afflict primarily domestic, but also some wild, small ruminants since 1942 when it was first reported in Côte D’Ivoire. Since then, PPR’s geographical distribution has witnessed extensive, spreading to numerous parts of the world. Out of the 16 SADC Member States, six (6) of them are officially recognized by the WOAH as PPR free with one (1) country officially recognized as having a PPR-free zone, whereas five (5) countries are without WOAH-free status but have never detected PPR. PPR is present (endemic) in the remaining four (4) SADC Member States, posing a serious threat to the rest of the region. The PPR Global Control and Eradication Strategy (PPR GCES), prepared jointly by FAO and WOAH, was endorsed in April 2015 in Côte d'Ivoire. 

Subsequently, the PPR Global Eradication Programme (PPR GEP I) was developed to launch the first phase of the strategy’s implementation for 2017-2021. The Abidjan conference recommended a review of the strategy implementation after the first five years. In 2021, FAO and WOAH launched the revision of the PPR GEP I to formulate the second phase of the PPR GEP (PPR GEP II). The process of PPR GEP revision is currently ongoing with an expectation of launching the second phase of the PPR GEP in early November 2022.

Working Together

FAO, WOAH, SADC and AU-IBAR led by the PPR Global Control and Eradication Strategy are working in collaboration to (i) eradicate PPR by 2030, (ii) strengthen veterinary services, and (iii) reduce the impact of other major infectious diseases of small ruminants in the SADC Region. PPR poses a serious impediment to small ruminant value chains and a tremendous threat to sheep and goat health, food security, and smallholder producers' social wellbeing and livelihoods. Countries that are not PPR infected are being capacitated to demonstrate through evidence and data obtained from extensive surveillance activities the absence to obtain the official WOAH PPR-free status recognition.

From the 12 to the 14 of September 2022, the third regional roadmap meeting was organized in Gaborone-Botswana. The objectives of the meeting was: i) reviewing and updating the PPR epidemiological situation in Southern Africa; ii) updating the progress of countries in Southern Africa along PPR control stages; iii) map out key activities to prevent and control PPR, including projects,; iv) identify and adopt next steps for PPR control in SADC countries; and v) identify key capacity gaps and challenges affecting PPR control/eradication in Southern African countries and agree on proposed solutions and recommendations. The meeting was attended by 35 participants from Angola, Botswana, eSwatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, as well as representatives of FAO and WOAH headquarters and sub-regional offices, SADC Secretariat, AU-IBAR, AU-PANVAC and Botswana Vaccine Institute,

Following the third regional roadmap meeting, a training on risk-based approaches for PPR prevention and emergency response in historically free SADC countries was conducted from the 15th to 16th September 2022 in Gaborone. The training paved the way for historically free countries in the SADC Region to develop emergency preparedness and emergency response plans and capacitate them in the preparation of dossiers to be submitted to WOAH for the declaration of freedom from PPR. The objectives of the training were to i) provide an overview of the epidemiology, clinical signs, and diagnosis of PPR in small ruminants and wildlife, ii) describe surveillance activities that can be implemented to demonstrate PPR freedom, iii) describe other requirements necessary for dossier submission, including the development of emergency preparedness and emergency response plan, as well as to iv) assist countries in developing work plans for dossier submission. The training was attended by 26 participants from the following countries: Tanzania, Zambia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi and Mauritius.

Outcomes and recommendations on eradicating Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR)

Considering that there are 3 group of countries within the region: PPR free, historical free and infected countries, the meeting agreed that:

For PPR free countries it was recommended that: i) the development of new or review of existing contingency plans, ii) that partners support simulation activities to validate the contingency plans; iii) that MS with the support of FAO/WOAH/IBAR/PANVAC address challenges around shipment of samples.

For historical free countries, it was recommended that i) countries to mobilize resources and upscale PPR surveil-lance to nationwide coverage and include wildlife; ii) Intensify awareness campaigns for all value chain players; iii) Capacity building for MS for dossier preparation; iv) Harmonized regional PPR surveillance; v) Organize cross border harmonization and bilateral meetings and vi) countries wanting to be declared free of PPR by 2024 need to submit their dossiers by June 2023. FAO willing to support and WOAH will provide guidance. 

For infected countries there is need to develop disease trend maps to guide prevention and control interventions through: i) Emphasis on importance on need to strengthen partnerships and collaborations within the region as we move towards eradication; ii) Need for a communication platform to share experiences and good practices due to different capacity levels of countries; iii) Data management and sharing among countries needs to be strengthened within the region; iv) Need for cross/trans-border harmonization on surveillance and vaccinations within the region as we move towards eradication; v) Develop advocacy for resource mobilization at the country level and vi) Establish a Protection Zone (episystem buffer zone) in south Tanzania, DRC, and Angola to protect SADC by concentrating on surveillance and vaccination.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of FAO Regional Office for Africa.

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