The Pacific Community (SPC) has brought together relevant experts, government representatives and key stakeholders to strengthen animal health and production, and improve veterinary services which are lacking in the region
The Expert Workshop on Pacific Regional Capacity Needs to Support Animal Health, Welfare and Production, Veterinary Public Health, Biosecurity and Food Security was held recently in Nadi, Fiji.
As an integral part of Pacific culture, livestock satisfies customary obligations and events and is a fundamental staple for food security
“Despite the importance of livestock in the Pacific, the sector faces numerous challenges that are recurring and well-documented,” said SPC Programme Leader for Sustainable Agriculture Gibson Susumu at the opening of the event. “With the expertise and wealth of experiences in the room, this gathering provides an opportunity to revisit these challenges and identify priorities for a regional strategic approach.”
The consultation discussed ways to assess veterinary services and identify gaps, with a view to build regional capacity around animal health services such as paravet training, disease surveillance, endemic disease control, diagnosis and reporting, welfare and production, humane slaughter, and meat inspection. These actions have become critical in the face of the Coronavirus pandemic and the continuous threats of zoonotic diseases.
Dr. Sripad Sosale, SPC’s Animal Health and Production Adviser said,“the lack of veterinarians and para veterinarians across the Pacific directly impacts biosecurity planning, animal health, welfare and production and safeguarding veterinary public health. More and better trained veterinarians will help mitigate risks and contribute overall towards the region’s biosecurity, food and nutrition security and wider Pacific livelihoods,”
In addition to helping strengthen veterinary services, infrastructure and mechanisms in the Pacific, the consultations marked a step forward for a united approach by providing recommendations and contributing to an overarching Regional Animal Health Capacity Building Plan (RAHCBP) for the livestock industries. The recommendations will be further developed for endorsement at the first face-to-face PHOVAPS meeting to be held later this year.
The workshop was attended by representatives from the Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the World Organisation for Animal Health, the New Zealand Ministry of Primary Industries, Fiji Ministry of Agriculture, Biosecurity Authority of Fiji, Papua New Guinea National Agriculture and Quarantine Inspection Authority (NAQIA), Vanuatu Biosecurity - Vanuatu Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry, Fisheries and Biosecurity (MALFFB), Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access Program (PHAMA) Plus, The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Subregional Office for the Pacific Islands (FAO SAP) and the Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness (ACDP).
The event was co-funded by the European Union through the ‘Safe Agriculture trade Facilitation through Economic integration in the Pacific’ (SAFE Pacific) project and the Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry through the ‘Strengthening the Capacity of the Pacific Heads of Veterinary and Animal Production Services (PHOVAPS) Network project.