Transfering Technology, Opening Markets
The work to rid Africa of rinderpest has taken years of steady support and partnership -- with the IAEA and its technical cooperation mechanisms playing key roles. The IAEA's cooperation with the Organization of African Unity (today known as the African Union) and its Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources (IBAR) helped set the technical foundation for establishing a network of laboratories to monitor national vaccination campaigns under the Pan-African Rinderpest Campaign (PARC). The network proved critical for PARC's success, as well as for efforts of its successor, a new and broader animal health initiative called the Pan African Programme for the Control of Epizootics (PACE).
The network today involves 20 national veterinary laboratories and three regional laboratories (in Kenya, Cote D’Ivoire and Senegal). Their work has gone beyond rinderpest to include other types of transboundary animal disease.
The IAEA Technical Cooperation programme, for example, maintains an expert at IBAR headquarters in Nairobi to help countries reach and sustain their animal health goals. Support has included helping countries to prepare their technical dossiers to the Organization International of Epizootics (OIE), the world's animal health organization that certifies rinderpest-free status; establish quality assurance systems at national veterinary labs; and develop rinderpest emergency preparedness plans. Today, the expert additionally provides technical assistance for epidemiological surveillance of other transboundary animal diseases. This has helped fuse collaboration among and between IAEA Member States in Africa, the PACE programme, and international bodies.
As importantly, the IAEA's support of research, development, and technology transfer has led to an affordable and efficient test for monitoring rinderpest. The serological surveillance kit (known by its acronym iELISA) was developed successfully at the University of California-Davis in collaboration with Senegal's Institute of Agricultural Research. With financial backing of almost US $700,000 from the USA, this technology was effectively transferred through IAEA technical cooperation channels to Africa, where it is now produced and can be distributed.
In January 2004, another milestone was reached -- iELISA was accepted as a sero-surveillance test by the OIE. The action means that African countries using the test can gain international certification of their rinderpest-free status -- a seal of approval that opens more markets for agricultural trade