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Eradication of foot and mouth disease in the Americas

An International Conference on Perspectives for the Eradication of Foot and Mouth Disease in the Next Millenium and its Impact on Food Security and Trade in the Americas was held in Brasilia, Brazil, from 11 to 12 July 1996. The event was organised by the Pan-American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), the Office International des Epizooties (OIE) (1) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). In addition to Ministers of Agriculture of the Americas or their representatives, there was large participation of private producers and representatives of institutions involved in programmes for the eradication of foot and mouth disease.

Foot and mouth disease has been eliminated in the southern region of the Continent, central areas of Brazil and the north-eastern region of Colombia, containing over half of the cattle herds of South America, demonstrating the value of the Hemispheric Plan for the Eradication of Foot and Mouth Disease (2) and its sub-regional programmes. The goal of eradicating FMD from the Americas by the year 2009 looks possible.

Among the recommendations of the Conference were:

  • To recognise the negative impact of foot and mouth disease on food safety, public health, rural sustainable development and international trade, and to request governments of affected countries, with the support of international organisations, to apply the Hemispheric Plan to accelerate eradication in the Americas.
  • To improve the conditions and production of small tenant farmers, so that they will better contribute to the goals of the campaign.
  • To recognise FMD eradication programmes as important to regional integration.
  • To request countries to respect agreements made under the World Trade Organization (WTO), including the use of the OIE International Animal Health Code (3).
  • To confirm PANAFTOSA's (4) commitment to coordinate hemispheric FMD eradication and to address other diseases important to the livestock industry.
  • To request the FAO, OIE and PAHO to support global eradication of foot and mouth disease and to prevent the spread of other important epizootic diseases internationally.

(1) The OIE, world organisation for animal health, was created in 1924 and has its headquarters in Paris. It brings together 143 Member Countries and is responsible for informing and advising national Veterinary Services in order to protect public health and to contribute to the eradication of the most dangerous animal diseases.

(2) A ministerial decision, adopted during the Vth Inter-American Ministerial Meeting of Animal Health (RIMSA V), held in Washington, DC, United States of America, in 1987, agreed to establish a Hemispheric Plan for the Eradication of Foot and Mouth Disease, and requested PAHO to set up a Hemispheric Committee for the Eradication of Foot and Mouth Disease, with a mandate to coordinate and support the objectives and terms of this Plan.

(3) The International Animal Health Code, adopted by the OIE International Committee, sets the recommended health standards for international trade in animals and animal products. The World Trade Organization Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures advocates the use of these standards.

(4) PANAFTOSA: Pan-American Centre for Foot and Mouth Disease (PAHO). OIE Regional Reference Laboratory for FMD for the Americas.

Contact : Maria Zampaglione

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