The Pacific Community (SPC) and the Australia Department of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Forestry (DAFF) are joining forces to provide crucial support in Solomon Islands' emergency response to avian disease.
A virus that causes high death rates in young chickens was detected in Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands after the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL) received reports of unusual chicken deaths on farms. DAFF and SPC, with the support of the European Union through the Safe Agricultural Trade Facilitation through Economic Integration in the Pacific (SAFE Pacific) project, swiftly mobilised a response team to provide technical support on the ground.
“This viral infectious bird disease seriously threatens the poultry industry and people’s livelihoods,” said SPC’s Animal Health and Production Adviser Dr Sripad Sosale “We are working closely with MAL and the farmers to provide the necessary equipment and support with sampling to create strategies to help contain the disease outbreak as much as we can.”.
SPC and DAFF have played a vital role in conducting training sessions for local livestock and animal health officers in the Pacific, empowering them with the skills and knowledge to detect, mobilise and respond immediately to animal diseases.
“Thanks to the vigilance of MAL in their ongoing surveillance and farmers, we’ve responded quickly. As we’re working to combat the avian disease, it’s also important for farmers and farming communities to adhere to biosecurity guidelines and preventative measures,” said Dr Sosale.
Response efforts include media awareness to educate farmers and communities about prevention, symptoms and avian disease. As part of this, MAL Livestock Department Deputy Director Ricky Wate appeared on radio talk shows to provide updates and raise awareness on preventing the spread of the disease.
“Farmers are urged to report any suspected cases and monitor for unusual animal deaths,” said Mr Wate. “It is important to restrict movement between farms or when interacting with animals. Protective wear and proper hygiene on farms is a must.”
Solomon Islands government has expressed its deep appreciation for the support from SPC, DAFF and the EU. The partnership exemplifies a collective commitment to fostering regional cooperation and addressing veterinary public health challenges in the Pacific.