Diseases of livestock in the Pacific Islands region: setting priorities for food animal biosecurity

Brioudes, Aurélie, Warner, Jeffrey, Hedlefs, Robert, and Gummow, Bruce (2015) Diseases of livestock in the Pacific Islands region: setting priorities for food animal biosecurity. Acta Tropica, 143. pp. 66-76.

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Most Pacific Island countries and territories (PICTs) have developing economies and face a critical shortage of veterinarians with limited financial resources allocated to their animal disease surveillance programmes. Thus, animal health authorities have to set priorities for better focusing their scarce resources. The main objective of this study was to identify animal diseases perceived to be of importance by decision makers within selected PICTs, at the regional and national levels, to ensure better targeting of animal health resources. A second objective was to investigate whether the targeted surveillance programmes resulting from this rationalized approach would also benefit the local communities engaged in livestock production. A multi-criteria prioritization process was developed, involving local experts, to score and rank 132 animal diseases based on their priority at the regional and national levels for four PICTs: Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu, which form part of a regional Food Animal Biosecurity Network. In parallel interviews with farmers and field animal health and production workers were conducted to assess their perception of animal diseases. The list of the top-twenty ranked diseases for the Pacific Islands region shows a mix of endemic zoonotic diseases (such as leptospirosis ranked first; brucellosis third; tuberculosis sixth; and endoparasites and ectoparasites, respectively eleventh and thirteenth) with exotic diseases (such as HPAI ranked second, FMD fifth, and rabies ninth). There were different disease ranking lists for each of the four targeted PICTs, confirming different strategies of disease prevention and control may be required for each country, rather than a regional approach. Interviewed animal health and production workers were unfamiliar with most of the prioritized diseases and a majority acknowledged that they would not be able to recognize clinical signs if outbreaks were to occur in their area. Leptospirosis, which is endemic and identified as the top priority disease at the regional level, was never mentioned by any interviewed farmer. Farmers did not name any emerging infectious diseases as priorities. Instead, they identified endemic diseases (parasites, flu, coccidiosis, and scabies) as the most important. While animal disease priorities appear to differ widely between the targeted regions and countries, it also varies significantly between experts and farmers. Better targeted surveillance programmes may thus result in more rational and transparent allocation of resources, and thus enhanced food security, but may not directly match the needs of the local communities.

Item ID: 39139
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1873-6254
Keywords: Pacific Island; tropical diseases; prioritization; animal health; livestock; food animal biosecurity
Funders: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Australian Government (DFAT)
Projects and Grants: DFAT AUSAID AGREEMENT 54828/16
Date Deposited: 19 Jun 2015 04:11
FoR Codes: 07 AGRICULTURAL AND VETERINARY SCIENCES > 0707 Veterinary Sciences > 070704 Veterinary Epidemiology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 83 ANIMAL PRODUCTION AND ANIMAL PRIMARY PRODUCTS > 8399 Other Animal Production and Animal Primary Products > 839903 Livestock Product Traceability and Quality Assurance @ 100%
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