ROME, ITALY — The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) launched the Global Control ASF Initiative to stop the spread of African swine fever (ASF).
The initiative supports nations and partners at every level to coordinate and strengthen control measures to minimize the impact of the disease.
“Our goal is to prevent the spread — and ultimately eradicate — this disease, leveraging the latest science, best practices and international standards,” said Qu Dongyu, director-general of the FAO in his video message to the participants at the Call to Action event. “If not controlled, this disease will jeopardize progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.”
He continued calling on all stakeholders to take action to stop the spread of ASF, promote animal health and welfare, and safeguard the livelihoods of farmers.
According to the FAO, ASF has led to the loss of more than 7 million pigs in Asia alone, since sweeping into this region. More than 50 countries in Africa, Asia and Europe are currently affected and the Americas are trying to prevent incursion into their territory.
“Today, no country is safe from African swine fever,” said Monique Eloit, director-general of OIE. “The number of countries across the world reporting outbreaks to the OIE continues to grow. This corresponds to the biggest animal disease outbreak of our generation.”
Eloit underlined the importance for continued investment in veterinary services, and the effective implementation of international standards, particularly those related to biosecurity and surveillance, to bring ASF under global control.
ASF’s mortality rate is 100% in both wild and domestic pigs and there is currently no effective vaccine for the disease, the FAO noted.
“Although not infectious to humans, pig production is critical for many economies, and to the food security and livelihoods of millions of people,” the FAO said. “The fatal disease continues to extend its reach, causing further damage in the socioeconomic fallout from COVID-19.”
The FAO and OIE are utilizing the Call to Action event to introduce the Global Control ASF Initiative and encourage government representatives, veterinarians, and specialists from around the world, to share knowledge and experiences on tools, approaches and research during the Oct. 26-30 online event.
Coordinated actions are part of the initiative to build resilience utilizing practical guidance, appropriate to specific needs and contexts.