Joint statement: IGAD and FAO warn on Rift Valley Fever

Arid Landscape Initiative is a social think tank group with focus on Biodiversity, Governance, pastoralism and Land development in Africa. Because we are suposed to increase voices on urgent matters we would like to re-post IGAD – FAO statement on the new emergency of zoonoses in IGAD region. IGAD and FAO are working closely to monitor the progress of Rift Valley Fever (RVF) outbreak across some African countries indicating low and high risk countries.

On 17 May 2020, IGAD/ICPALD and FAO released a joint Rift Valley Fever (RVF) alert to IGAD and EAC Member States, as well as to key stakeholders and partners. The alert pointed out the high-risk areas and provided key recommendations to increase preparedness for this disease in the region. IGAD/ICPALD and FAO commend the steps taken following the alert, such as:

  • Communication and follow-up made by ICPALD/IGAD with the chief veterinary officers (CVOs) and epidemiologists of high risk Member States;
  • Activation of national RVF contingency plans in member countries in collaboration with Ministries of Health (MoH);
  • Active surveillance and monitoring of local environmental conditions for better identification of risk areas;
  • Equipment of RVF laboratory testing kits and reagents;
  • Provision of vaccines aligned with the OIE Terrestrial Code and the requirements of trade partners when necessary;
  • Increased readiness of field rapid deployment teams;
  • Increased awareness of key stakeholders and partners in ‘hot spot’ areas.

RVF is a viral zoonotic disease transmitted by mosquitoes that can cause severe disease in animals and humans, including death and abortion in infected livestock. This epizootic disease in animals, which can spill over to the human population, tends to develop extremely rapidly following abnormally high seasonal rainfall at the local, national or regional scale.

RVF outbreaks can disrupt the livestock sector by depleting future generations of affected herds and therefore constitutes an important socio-economic and food security threat to vulnerable households. The disease can disrupt communities depending on animal trade by affecting their local animal markets. It can also affect the funds directly available to households through their animals and thereby impact their capacities to access health care and child education. As such, IGAD considers RVF a major threat to the economic development and stability of the region and strongly advocates for a regional approach to supplement national initiatives.

FAO maintains a system for RVF forecasting based on precipitation and vegetation anomalies, among other environmental factors. During the past six months, most of the Eastern African countries remained at a persistent risk of RVF occurrence due to a rainy season that was the wettest on record since 1981. Exceptional rainfall and floods have enhanced and maintained suitable environmental and climatic conditions that will likely lead to the explosive proliferation of RVF vectors in the region. for further reading on the RVF outbreak . Find attached statement by IGAD and FAO team.

Published by Arid Landscapes Initiative- ALIN Africa

Arid Landscape Initiative (ALIN Africa) is a think tank social group with a focus on ASALs biodiversity, pastoralism, natural resource governance, and policy development.

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