A three-day international meeting on Maintaining Global Freedom from Rinderpest kicked off today in Kathmandu. The meeting is organized in collaboration with the World Organization for Animal Health, (OIE) and the Ministry of Livestock Development with assistance and organizational support from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Representation in Nepal.
Welcoming the participants, Dr Keshav Prasad Premy, Joint Secretary of the Ministry of the Livestock Development, said that Nepal was the first country in the region to declare freedom from rinderpest in the year 1996. Underlining the need of the destruction of the material containing rinderpest virus, he said that the country level action plan is required to combat with the possible comeback of the rinderpest.
Dr Somsak Pipoppinyo, Representative of the FAO in Nepal and Bhutan, said that FAO is advocating and offering assistance to destroy or relocate the virus to the five FAO-OIE approved Rinderpest Holding Facilities.
Appreciating the support of the United States of America’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFARD) of Canada, and the National Institute of Animal Health (NIAH) of Japan, he said that FAO is continuing to provide technical and financial supports to laboratories to rid themselves of the virus by destroying or sequestering it.
Dr Samia Metwally,Senior Animal Health Officer (Virology) of Animal Production and Health Division FAO headquarters at Rome, said FAO is holding this meeting with all of the remaining countries storing rinderpest virus and countries at risk (neighboring those keeping the virus) to continue the efforts of reducing the risk of the virus escaping from laboratories.
Rinderpest was a devastating disease that affected cattle buffalos and several wild species. According to a press release, over millennia periodic outbreaks killed millions of cattle in Africa, Asia, Middle-East and Asia.
The main aims of the meeting are to commit countries to destroy their stocks of the virus or arrange for its relocation to a FAO-OIE RHF, develop a strategy to reduce the RVCM stock at the FAO-OIE RHFs, present the draft Global Rinderpest Action Plan (GRAP) and Vaccine Reserve, and heighten awareness and preparedness for rinderpest.
Over three dozen of the experts from the member countries representatives of Asia, Africa, Europe and North America, five FAO-OIE RHFs and international and regional organizations are attending the meeting.
International participants at meeting