Mexico, USA, Dominican Republic and Haiti agree on a joint strategy to eradicate ASF
With the purpose of advancing in the control and eradication of African swine fever (ASF) in the Dominican Republic and Haiti and, thereby, reducing the risk of dispersion to other countries of the American continent, technical working groups will be created led by specialists from Mexico and the United States to strengthen veterinary services in these Caribbean nations, reported the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
In a virtual meeting with his American, Dominican and Haitian counterparts, the head of the federal agency, Víctor Villalobos Arámbula, presented the proposal in which experts from the National Service for Agrifood Health, Safety and Quality (Senasica) will share their intelligence experience animal health, anti-epidemic measures and strengthening of inspection services at ports, airports and borders.
Based on the ASF Megasimulation carried out in 2019 in Mexico and which included observers from the United States and Canada, the federal official proposed the programming of a regional exercise with the purpose of testing the effectiveness and response capacity of the veterinary services of the Americas and their productive sectors, facing the threat posed by the viral disease that affects pigs.
He indicated that, in order to strengthen the actions of the technical groups, the work carried out in recent years by international bodies such as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and the International Regional Organization for Agricultural Health (OIRSA).
Accompanied by the head of Senasica, Francisco Javier Trujillo Arriaga, Secretary Villalobos Arámbula said that, in recent years, Mexico has focused its preventive efforts on raising awareness in the industry and the population.
In this sense, he proposed that comprehensive dissemination programs be established on the island, since the migration of Haitian citizens - who may travel with contaminated products - is an aspect that must be addressed.
The head of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA, in English), Thomas Vilsack, highlighted the collaboration experience of more than 75 years with Mexico in animal health matters, so that joint efforts will enhance the success of control actions and eradication in Caribbean countries.
Accompanied by the head of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Kevin Shea, the US official assured that this joint effort that they will implement in Haiti and the Dominican Republic will serve to build a scaffolding that can be used in the future to face new challenges in the field and livestock, as a result of climate change and the mobilization of goods through tourism, trade and migration.
He indicated that the Plant and Animal Health Inspection Service will coordinate with Senasica and the health agencies of the Caribbean countries to carry out, as quickly as possible, the first joint exercises.
The Minister of Agriculture of the Dominican Republic, Limber Cruz, highlighted the support of the United States and Mexico to accelerate the eradication of the disease in his country and throughout the island, since both nations are Siamese, with a border of 389 linear kilometers, so no single effort would be effective.
He explained that, for a year since the first outbreaks of ASF were detected in its territory, the Dominican government has increased containment actions and, to date, 95 veterinary teams are working in the field, quarantine has been strengthened in ports and airports and the number of diagnostic tests has risen to more than six thousand per week.
He explained that the dependency under his charge is aware of the degree of responsibility it has to eradicate the disease as soon as possible and prevent its spread to other nations of the continent.
The Minister of Agriculture of Haiti, Charlot Bredy, welcomed the support received in recent months by USDA, FAO and IICA, as it has been decisive in advancing in the control of the disease and in the training provided to the veterinary and productive sectors.
He said that despite its financial limitations, the Haitian government has worked hard to address the risks in production units and has trained more than four thousand producers to strengthen biosecurity measures and prevent the movement of live animals.
He commented that they have relied on laboratories in the United States for the diagnostic process and, to date, of 1,984 samples in pigs, 529 have been confirmed, in which 3,500 animals were immediately slaughtered.
The Ministers of Agriculture agreed that their technical teams begin the exchange of information next week to draw up the work plan to be developed in that Caribbean region.
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