United Nations FAO Builds Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratories in Africa

The National laboratory systems play a vital role in preventing, detecting and responding to health threats and veterinary diagnostic laboratories are at the centre of veterinary services’ control programmes for transboundary animal diseases (TADs).
United Nations FAO Builds Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratories in Africa
United Nations FAO Builds Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratories in Africa

In a bid to prevent transboundary animal diseases (TADs) the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization has built some stronger veterinary diagnostic laboratories in some West and Central African countries.


The National laboratory systems play a vital role in preventing, detecting and responding to health threats and veterinary diagnostic laboratories are at the centre of veterinary services’ control programmes for transboundary animal diseases (TADs).


Transboundary Animal Diseases, including zoonosis, can have huge impacts on economies, trade and food security as they can easily spread to other countries and reach epidemic proportions, with some affecting both humans and animals.


Due to this, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, and the Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases, through the Global Health Security Agenda programme sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development has approved support to 14 national and subnational veterinary diagnostic laboratories.

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Meanwhile, in 2015, the programme has been executed in ten countries in West and Central Africa. Last year, support is now also provided to two additional West African countries which are Niger and Nigeria.


Furthermore, FAO ECTAD assists other countries in West Africa such as Benin, the Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Togo and Chad through various FAO Technical Cooperation Programme projects.


A major challenge for national veterinary laboratories was the lack of capacity to detect, characterize, and share information for decision-making on infectious agents which were hindered by the lack of suitable facilities, insufficient execution of biosecurity measures, and a lack of competent staff or ineffective systems for swift data exchange.

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However, after constant support from the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization and the ECTAD, most of the National Veterinary Laboratories in the region that have received GHSA support since 2015 is now able to detect some of the TADs and priority animal diseases, such as rabies, brucellosis, highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), viral haemorrhagic fevers, among others.


FAO’s work through the USAID-funded GHSA programme has been critical in ensuring the control of future outbreaks, as well as the inhibition, detection and response to a range of emerging infectious diseases in West and Central Africa. By enhancing the capacities of laboratory and field staff, the number of reported disease outbreaks in the region increased on average by 15-20 per cent.

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