WINDHOEK, Sept. 24 (Xinhua) -- Veterinary authorities from five Southern African nations on Sunday gathered in Namibia to address the growing threat of transboundary animal diseases (TADs) in the region.
Speaking at the opening of the workshop Sunday, Namibia's Chief Veterinary Officer Albertina Shilongo said the border harmonization meeting, taking place from Sept. 24 to 27, represents a significant step towards safeguarding animal health and promoting regional cooperation. The five Southern African countries are Namibia, Angola, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The primary focus of the gathering is to combat TADs, such as contagious bovine pleuropneumonia (CBPP), foot and mouth disease (FMD), rabies, peste des petits ruminants (PPR), and the rising concern of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), Shilongo said.
These diseases not only threaten the health of animals but also the livelihoods of communities dependent on livestock, she added.
According to Shilongo, the key objectives include creating a unified strategy to combat CBPP, enhancing border cooperation to prevent disease spread and ensuring the safe trade of animals and animal products without introducing diseases to new areas.
Namibia, a World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH) recognized bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) negligible risk country since 2016, has been at the forefront of policies and strategies to combat TADs. The country's efforts include a Policy on Eradication of Transboundary Animal Disease in the Northern Communal Areas, endorsed control programs by the WOAH, and the historic endorsement of the Namibia Rabies Official Control Program by the WOAH in May 2021, Shilongo said.
She emphasized that effectively addressing these diseases necessitates collaboration with neighboring countries, especially given porous borders and shared ethnic communities.
Coordinated efforts, harmonized strategies, surveillance protocols, and adherence to international standards laid out by the WOAH are all seen as essential components of success, she said, adding the collective strengths of these robust veterinary authorities will significantly enhance animal health in the region, ultimately opening doors for livestock producers in the market. ■