A donation to the IAEA from the South African Government's African Renaissance and International Cooperation Fund will support swift animal disease diagnosis and reduce the risk of livestock loss in sub-Saharan African countries.
Livestock is the economic backbone for many subsistence farmers in poor countries. Farmers look after their animals for meat and milk, draught power and for social and cultural reasons. However, livestock is vulnerable to a number of highly infectious transboundary diseases such as foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), African swine fever (ASF), contagious bovine pleuropneumonia (CBPP) and peste des petits ruminants (PPR). Transboundary animal diseases (TADs) can spread from country to country, from continent to continent. Some can be transmitted to humans. Avian influenza (H5N1) and "Swine Flu" (H1N1) caused two major influenza epidemics since 2003.
The South African contribution of 15 million Rand (approximately €1,5 million) will support the IAEA's efforts to strengthen animal disease diagnostic capacities in regional veterinary laboratories in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Swift diagnosis is a crucial factor in controlling TADs in sub-Saharan African countries. The strategy was proven during the successful campaign to eradicate rinderpest. In 2011, the world was officially declared free from rinderpest, a highly contagious viral disease that caused immense livestock losses and devastating economic damage throughout history. The disease was eradicated through a long-term collaborative partnership between the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the African Union (AU) and national governments. Together, scientists and researchers developed, evaluated, validated and distributed immunological and nuclear technologies to diagnose and control rinderpest.
South Africa's contribution will be utilised by the Joint FAO-IAEA Division's veterinary laboratory network, which proved its effectiveness during the rinderpest eradication campaign. The African Renaissance and International Cooperation Fund's contribution will help build the diagnostic capacities of veterinary laboratories to quickly identify an outbreak, which is vital in being able to control these diseases and to protect livestock and farmers' incomes in the future.
Building a Laboratory Network
Training, and the coordinated delivery of the needed equipment, will enable the laboratories to undertake animal disease diagnosis, using immunological and molecular biological platforms utilizing nuclear and nuclear related technologies. The IAEA will also provide its know-how, guidelines and expert support. To optimize efficiency, the project's main support will be provided to one laboratory in each region, which in turn will support a number of satellite laboratories. For instance, in West Africa, Côte d'Ivoire will serve as the main laboratory with technology network links to Senegal, Burkina Faso and Mali. In East and Central Africa, Ethiopia will serve as the main laboratory with technology network links to Tanzania, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo. And in Southern Africa, Botswana will serve as the main laboratory, with supporting links to Zambia, Mozambique and Namibia.
In addition, the project will transfer and validate a new generation of molecular-based nuclear and nuclear-related diagnostic techniques, as well as supporting their implementation in African countries. Utilizing a broad range of expertise, the IAEA will be able to support the establishment of sustainable, effective reference veterinary diagnostic laboratories in sub-Saharan Africa.
In the meantime, IAEA Member States have also stated that they intend to provide further funding for this project.