Cartagena, Colombia, May 4, 2019—Representatives of the public and private sectors from the 13 countries of the 46th Ordinary Meeting of the South American Commission for the Fight Against Foot-and-Mouth Disease (COSALFA) met on 2 and 3 May 2019, in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia. They reviewed the progress made by the National Programs of Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD), highlighted future challenges and agreed on the actions to be taken in order to advance towards the eradication of the disease in the Americas.
Ottorino Cosivi, PANAFTOSA’s Director, welcomed the 46th Ordinary Meeting of the Commission, stating that “the overall FMD situation is quite positive as almost all South America is now FMD-free with or without vaccination. This is a very significant achievement”. However, he raised his concern about Venezuela’s animal health situation, which he described as critical, since it represents a permanent risk delaying the achievement of the FMD eradication in the Americas.
During the meeting, PANAFTOSA explained to and reassured all participants of COSALFA, updating the situation of the regional risk and addressing the potential effects, for the definition of health strategies to be adopted in order to deal with impending challenges, maintain the achievements made, and complete the process of eradication of foot-and-mouth disease without vaccination in the Americas. It was highlighted that most of the region has epidemiological and structural conditions to discontinue the use of the vaccine and start a transition towards the status of FMD-free without vaccination, except in case of lack of reliability in the work performed or in case of external significant risk. (We recommend reading the technical note issued by PANAFTOSA.)
Resolutions were approved which, first of all, acknowledge and congratulate the efforts made by the Colombian Agricultural Institute (ICA) to control the outbreaks of 2017 and 2018 and to regain its official status as foot-and-mouth disease free with vaccination. In addition, COSALFA decided to maintain its collaboration with Venezuela’s control program and urged the private sectors of the COSALFA to contribute to the Trust Fund to purchase the vaccines that will be used in Venezuelan states near Colombia in order to mitigate transboundary risks.
Likewise, the development of genetic studies using the strains from PANAFTOSA reference laboratory, as well as the organization of technical cooperation missions with national laboratories from the countries of the region were approved.
Finally, the Commission approved the elaboration of a new Hemispheric Program for the Eradication of Foot-and-Mouth Disease (PHEFA) Action Plan, which will be submitted in the next COSALFA meeting to be held in Argentina.
Prior to the meeting of the COSALFA, on April 29 and 30, the International Seminar: “On the Threshold of the Eradication of Foot-and-Mouth Disease: Beyond 2020” was held, which was attended by 225 professionals from 19 countries of America and Europe. It was also transmitted via streaming, and the five sessions had 612 visits to the Spanish channel, 63 visits to the English channel, and 46 visits to the Portuguese channel. During the International Seminar, five thematic sessions were held, which addressed the control of Foot-and-Mouth Disease in Colombia, the efforts of free countries for a transition to the of FMD-free without vaccination status, the contribution of the Foot-and-Mouth Disease Diagnostic Laboratory for control and surveillance, the new tools and approaches to face the risk and the surveillance of foot-and-mouth disease, and the experience of European countries as FMD-free without vaccination.
Dr. Cosivi thanked the National Government of Colombia, through the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, for the political support devoted to this significant event, and the ICA management and technical group for their hospitality and the attention received during the meetings.