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Ministry of Agriculture and FAO establish five-year Avian Influenza Prevention and Control Strategy in Egypt
In collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation established today the framework for a five-year Avian Influenza Prevention and Control Strategy in Egypt. This came during a consultative meeting and workshop under the project on "strengthening national capacity for preparedness, early detection and response to emerging pandemic threats", funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

The meeting and workshop were attended by representatives of the General Organization for Veterinary Services, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Environment, the Central Laboratory For Evaluation Of Veterinary Biologics, the Veterinary Serum and Vaccine Research Institute, the Central Laboratory for Veterinary Quality Control on Poultry Production, as well as representatives from the Egyptian Poultry Association, poultry producers and pharmaceutical vaccine companies.

During her opening speech, Dr. Mona Mehrez, Deputy Minister for Animal Resources and Fisheries and Poultry, said that the eradication of Avian Influenza in Egypt needs the efforts of all institutions, including the government, the private sector, FAO, poultry producers as well as pharmaceutical and vaccine companies. She highlighted that the poultry industry contributes significantly to achieving food security and providing protein products at moderate prices for Egyptians whom depend on poultry in their diets.

Mehrez stressed that work is underway to develop an advanced and integrated system to eradicate avian influenza and other bird diseases in Egypt. The system will be created with the cooperation of all stakeholders, including universities and scientific research institutions, and it will be presented for discussion before final approval.

She added that this will be done simultaneously while supporting the development of veterinary units as well as the development of a unified system for monitoring the use of vaccines in an effective manner within this system. Mehrez requested FAO to provide the required and usual support for these activities to reduce the spread of avian influenza in Egypt.

"This meeting complements previous consultative meetings that aim to develop a strategic plan to control Avian Influenza in Egypt for the next five years in cooperation with all stakeholders. These meetings concluded that the strategy for the control of avian influenza should be reviewed and updated by involving the private sector, the support of small farms in strengthening biosecurity, ensuring the proper use of vaccines and using modern technology in the mapping of poultry farms in Egypt," Mehrez added.

"We have assessed the efforts done to combat avian influenza in Egypt over the past 10 years in terms of disease control policies, laws and logistics and human capacity building through a series of consultative meetings with stakeholders of the poultry sector in the country, from both the public and private sectors. After doing so, we are now working to develop new ideas and plans for controlling this disease in Egypt," said Lotfi Allal, Team Leader of the FAO Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD).

Jeff Gilbert, FAO consultant for the development of the prevention and control strategy of avian influenza in Egypt, presented the results of his meetings with the government and private sector parties over the past few weeks. He discussed the issues of surveillance and biosecurity in the poultry sector, mechanisms to control the transport of birds, and ways to safely dispose of dead birds. Gilbert highlighted the importance of organizing educational seminars for citizens and poultry breeders as well as developing new systems for monitoring vaccines and immunization.

After a fruitful discussion amongst the participating members, the workshop concluded a list of recommendations for the Avian Influenza Prevention and Control Strategy:
  • Encourage consumption of frozen or chilled birds rather than live birds.
  • Develop a marketing system to receive birds, prepare and sell them to the consumer at reasonable prices.
  • Set diagnostic controls in licensed private veterinary laboratories.
  • Encourage poultry producers to immediately report any case of positive avian influenza, and encourage them to do so by offering compensation.
  • Select six villages in Delta and Upper Egypt governorates as a pilot model to eradicate avian influenza and provide vaccines, medicines, biosecurity applications and the safe disposal of litter, while monitoring and evaluating the project to ensure its success and possible application in other areas.
  • Address the importance of activating legislation and laws governing these operations.
Toni Ettel, FAO Egypt Operations Officer, said that the strategy will be developed with a vision and an updated plan of action, drawing on previous experiences. It will proceed according to a specific timeframe and monitoring and evaluation mechanisms to ensure the achievement of significant success over the next few years.