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Organisation Mondiale de la Santé Animale

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The Office International des Epizooties (OIE) and the FAO/IAAE(1) organised the Third Meeting of the OIE Sub-Commission for Foot and Mouth Disease in South-East Asia, which was held in Manila (Philippines) from 24 to 28 February 1997.

Opened by the Minister of Agriculture of the Philippines and the Director General of the OIE, the meeting was presided over by Professor U. Kihm (Switzerland) and Dr A. Hassan (Malaysia).

The purpose of this meeting was to review the status of foot and mouth disease in the region and to assess progress, already made or planned, towards eradication.

According to reports presented by delegations from the sixteen participating countries, the disease is still present at variable incidence in most South-East Asian countries, notably Bangladesh, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam. Foot and mouth disease causes direct losses equivalent to more than a quarter of the production of cattle, buffalo and pig farming, and major indirect losses for agriculture, from a shortage of working cattle in the rice fields.

A recent survey presented at Manila showed that 1.598 of a population of 2.036 cattle and buffaloes contracted the disease during 1996, and 154 died, entailing a loss of 36.000 US dollars for the 514 families in Cambodia that owned these animals.

However, much progress has been achieved in controlling the disease, thanks to immunisation of animals with vaccines produced in Asia (a new vaccine laboratory is being built in Thailand) or imported from Europe, and thanks to the widespread use of enzyme immunoassay (the ELISA test) for diagnosis and surveillance of foot and mouth disease, coordinated by Dr M.H. Jeggo of IAEA.

Thanks to this vaccination, some areas have already been freed or protected from the disease. The Philippines hope to eradicate the disease soon from Luzon Island, where it is present among pigs.

A major coordinating task has to be accomplished in order to protect disease-free areas from reinfection from adjoining countries, particularly through illegal imports of livestock (amounting to over 400.000 within the region, according to a report presented at Manila).

A plan for control/eradication of foot and mouth disease in South-East Asia was presented by Dr Yoshihiro Ozawa, Regional OIE Representative for Asia and the Pacific. This plan will take twelve years and comprises three stages: strengthening of the capacity of national veterinary services for surveillance and control, then simultaneous mass vaccination in all countries involved, and finally a slaughter policy for infected animals in residual foci.

This plan, approved by APHCA(2) and ASEAN(3) , has received the support of the FAO, IAEA and the World Reference Laboratory for Foot and Mouth Disease at Pirbright (United Kingdom). It has already received important financial contributions from Australia, Japan, Switzerland and Thailand.

The OIE Sub-Commission for Foot and Mouth Disease in South-East Asia has recommended that, in order to speed up implementation of the plan, the urgent establishment of a regional coordinating unit in Bangkok (Thailand) staffed by an expert from Thailand (Dr Ab Kongthon) and two expatriate experts.

(1) FAO/IAEA: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and the International Atomic Energy Agency

(2) APHCA: Regional Animal Production and Health Commission for Asia and the Pacific

(3) ASEAN: Association of South-East Asian Nations

OIE, the world organisation for animal health, was created in 1924 and has its headquarters in Paris. It brings together 144 countries, whose Delegates form an 'International Committee', and is supported by the work of four Specialist Commissions and five Regional Commissions, including the Regional Commission for Africa. The OIE's mission is to inform and advise the Veterinary Services of its Member Countries in order to contribute to the eradication of those animal diseases most dangerous for animals or humans, and to determine the health standards for international trade.


Contact : Maria Zampaglione