As mentioned in my last blog on South Africa's latest H5N8 outbreak (see here), the FAO and the SADC (Southern Africa Development Council) are holding a 3-day emergency meeting in Johannesburg this week to address the growing crisis from H5N8's incursion into Southern Africa.
This morning the FAO released the following statement on the meeting, and the need to coordinate efforts to combat this avian threat.I've only included some excerpts, so follow the link to read it in its entirety.
Countries urged to act quickly to exterminate the outbreak
3 August 2017, Johannesburg – The recent outbreaks of the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), commonly referred to as the bird flu, are threatening the livelihood and food security status of millions of families in the region. If not tackled quickly, the HPAI outbreak impedes trade opportunities and will reverse the gains made in enhancing food and nutrition security.
In response to the recent outbreaks of the HPAI, experts and policy makers from Southern Africa are meeting to assess preparedness to share information and explore both immediate and longer-term response actions.(Continue . . )
Speaking at the meeting, FAO Subregional Coordinator for Southern Africa, David Phiri, emphasized the importance of poultry. “The poultry sector is vital in the region because poultry meat and eggs provide affordable sources of high-quality animal protein to millions of people in the region. Poultry production is also a major source of income for many, particularly rural women and youth”.
Commercial poultry production has grown significantly in the region in recent decades. In South Africa, one of the countries affected, the gross poultry income in 2016 was more than 3.5 billion USD (largest single contributor to the agricultural sector).
The poultry industry in the SADC region, with a population of over 380 million birds (according to SADC Animal Health Yearbook 2011), is the largest contributor to the region’s agriculture sector. If not controlled, an HPAI outbreak would lead to huge economic losses to countries due to trade restrictions and culling of poultry among others
FAO is providing emergency response kits to affected countries – protective equipment, diagnostic reagents, etc. The Organization has also supported with the deployment of technical mission to countries where the disease is reported, as was recently seen in Zimbabwe.
The meeting is taking place in Johannesburg, South Africa (2 - 4 August) and has been co-organized by FAO and the SADC secretariat. It is funded by FAO through a grant provided by the Office of United States Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA).