16 February 2012,New Delhi
The three-day international conference on Scientific Developments and Technical Challenges in the Progressive Control of Foot and Mouth Disease in South Asia concluded on Wednesday in New Delhi with a call to strengthen regional efforts to tackle the disease.
“This landmark regional conference recognises the consequences of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) for food security and the importance of building a healthy livestock sector that spurs economic growth and safeguards the livelihoods of tens of millions of people in the region who depend on livestock. The best way that foot-and-mouth disease can be controlled, eliminated, and eventually eradicated from the region is through joint regional cooperation. India has made impressive steps in the right direction,” Dr. Juan Lubroth, Chief Veterinary Officer of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations stated. “With currently limited resources, a targeted approach must be implemented, by investing where we can cut FMD prevalence to help communities escape the disease,” he added.
Dr KML Pathak, Deputy Director General Animal Sciences, Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) said that the research carried out by ICAR has made the country self sufficient in all the areas of diagnostics surveillance and vaccine related developments. This has given the confidence for the expansion of the control programme in the country with the objective of establishing disease-free zones within the next five to eight years as per the FAO PCP. It is expected that the deliberations of this meeting will give further support and direction in the implementation of the national foot-and mouth disease control programme. India is also working with all the other countries in SAARC region for the regional control of FMD in phased manner, he added.
The conference called for greater investment in FMD vaccine production to meet the annual regional vaccine needs which will grow to 800 million doses for cattle and buffaloes alone in the next 4 years, and research and development to increase the interval between vaccinations which would therefore bring forward the required self-sufficiency and reduce cost and complexity programmes. New lines of vaccine research are highly promising but need international collaboration and openness to expand the range of new technologies evaluated, and increase the chance that discoveries will be made and brought to trial in the next 5-10 years.
The conference also called for coordination of efforts and a co-ordinating unit for the Regional FMD Roadmap that would create the capacity to optimise control measures and to monitor and evaluate progress. “The risk of further epidemics, national and regional, will remain high until all countries have reached Stage 3 of the PCP and the region has established capacity to detect new threats and respond to FMD epidemics,” said Keith Sumption, Secretary of the FAO based EuFMD Commission. “The conference has given a glimpse into the future, of how this region will tackle the twin problems of better delivery of prevention measures and better tools to control FMD”, he added.