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New programme to eradicate deadly livestock disease by 2030

by ruchita last modified Oct 28, 2014 01:18 PM

Oct 28, 2014

28 October 2014, India - "FAO, a founding partner of SAPPLPP, has launched a global programme for the eradication of the potentially fatal disease Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR) in small ruminants, with a focus on Asia, Middle East and Africa".  

PPR  a deadly viral disease of sheep and goats affects the livelihoods of almost one billion extremely poor smallholders and pastoralists in over 70 countries.

The eradication campaign, based on the successful FAO-led campaign that eradicated rinderpest disease in cattle, will concentrate on Asia, the Middle East and Africa, where PPR is endemic and spreading and already causes billions of dollars in losses every year.

FAO, in collaboration with the World Organisation of Animal Health (OIE), will lead and coordinate efforts by governments, regional political blocks, research institutions, funding partners and foundations and livestock owners to eradicate PPR by 2030.

“The technical tools are available to eradicate this disease over a 15 year period,” said Juan Lubroth, FAO Chief Veterinarian. “The major challenges will be to galvanize the political will in countries to commit the necessary human and financial resources. There are technical challenges as well in regard to vaccination delivery programmes, for example, to remote areas.”

PPR is a viral disease characterized by high fever, depression, eye and nasal discharge, severe diarrhoea, respiratory insufficiency, pneumonia, emaciation and death within days. Mortality rates among sheep and goats, which are classified as small ruminants, can reach 90 percent. The name means small ruminant plague in French.

In Pakistan, for example, PPR causes annual losses of more than US$342 million as well as depletion of genetic stock. In Tanzania, the cumulative annual loss due to PPR is estimated to be around US$67.9 million.

Small ruminants and the poor

In developing countries, about 25 percent of rural households and 30 percent of poorer households keep either sheep or goats. They are ideal livestock for the poor as they are less expensive than cattle and have a high reproduction rate. Women are more often than men the primary care giver of sheep and goats, making small ruminants an important resource for their empowerment.

Sheep and goats do not need expensive capital investments such as barns, and can adapt to harsher environments when compared with other species. They supply high quality animal products for consumption as well as fibre, wool and leather.

Livestock production and marketing are important for the livelihoods of about one billion poor people.

In subhumid and humid areas, the sale of live small ruminants and their milk accounts for up to 30 and 80 percent of household income, respectively. In arid and semi-arid areas, the proportion ranges between 17 and 58 percent, and is higher in the drought prone regions where goats can easily adapt, conceive and continue to produce milk at the very early stages of drought recovery.

According to FAO, there are about 2 billion small ruminants in the world.

The global campaign to eradicate PPR will be officially launched at a conference in March 2015 in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.