Transboundary animal diseases: Research and development priorities for resilient agrifood systems
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations defines transboundary animal diseases (TADs) as animal diseases that are of significant economic, trade and/or food security importance for a considerable number of countries; which can easily spread to other countries and reach epidemic proportions; and where control/management, including exclusion, requires cooperation between several countries.
TADs have significant socio-economic, environmental, and public health impacts on agrifood systems and global trade. These include reduced supply of animal-source foods, loss of animals, loss of livelihoods, and—in the case of zoonotic TADs—reduced human productivity, illness or death. Globally, at least one billion people are impacted by endemic TADs. Between 1998 and 2009, outbreaks of zoonotic TADs cost USD 7 billion every year, on average.
Since the 1990s, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) has been carrying out both upstream and downstream research on TADs such as African swine fever, contagious bovine pleuropneumonia, contagious caprine pleuropneumonia, peste des petits ruminants, foot-and-mouth disease and Rift Valley fever. The main focus has been on the development of vaccines and diagnostic tools, molecular and field epidemiology, and socio-economic research.
Recent research activities include using information and communication technology to improve early detection and response for control of African swine fever, foot-and-mouth disease and Newcastle disease in Vietnam; assessing the epidemiology and control of peste des petits ruminants in East and West Africa, and using CRISPR–Cas9 technology to develop vaccines against African swine fever.
Effective early detection, prevention and control of outbreaks of TADs calls for strong multi-sectoral collaboration. The One Health approach—which recognizes the inter-connectedness of people, animals, plants and the environment and promotes multisectoral and inter-disciplinary collaboration—will promote the development of effective integrated and sustainable solutions to the global threat of TADs.
The G20 member states can support the prevention and control of endemic TADs by investing in research and development towards the development and deployment of affordable vaccines and diagnostics; incentivised measures (disease surveillance, reporting, biosecurity, animal movement, trade); and capacity building.