Southern African countries have updated the regional preparedness and response plan for the management and control of the highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N8 following the outbreak that devastated the poultry industry in 2017.
The updated plan was crafted by regional experts and the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). It outlines disease surveillance, preparedness, responses and control mechanisms at regional and country levels.
It was adopted at a recent meeting in South Africa. FAO Sub-regional Coordinator for Southern Africa David Phiri said organisation remains committed to helping Southern Africa in managing and eventually eradicating bird flu.
“We will continue to work closely with the governments, regional and international partners and private sector players to create awareness on emerging disease threats and to provide support to countries as part of our overall efforts to end world hunger and to ensure food security for all,” Phiri said.
South Africa, Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) were hardest hit by the 2017 bird flu outbreak, which led to the culling of thousands of chickens. The impacts included massive stock, material and income losses for the farmers.
The outbreak also led to a serious shortage of chicken meat, eggs and other chicken products, leading to an escalation in prices due to scarcity in the market.