SAFOSO, on behalf of FAO-Pakistan, assessed the technical feasibility of establishing an FMD-free zone with vaccination in the Bahawalpur Division, Punjab, in accordance with the requirements outlined by WOAH.
The Punjab veterinary authorities are actively engaging in a FMD control program, which includes regular vaccination. Being an officially recognized FMD-free zone will offer more trade opportunities for the division’s large dairy sector, which comprises about 3.2 million cattle, 1.5 million buffalos, 4 million small ruminants, and a few thousand camels.
Our colleague, Marco De Nardi visited Punjab in February-March to assess the technical feasibility of establishing a FMD-freezone with vaccination in the Bahawalpur Division. Marco conducted several field visits and held multiple interviews with veterinary authorities, diagnostic laboratories, livestock owners, and traders. Focus was on the critical aspects of the establishment of a FMD-free zone, such as the main epidemiological drivers of disease spread, the existence of an animal identification and traceability system, the implementation of animal movement control strategies, the protection offered by the natural and artificial boundaries of the proposed zone, the coverage of vaccination campaigns, and the FMD surveillance strategies in place.
The assessment confirmed an overall positive situation in terms of decreasing the incidence of FMD outbreaks in Bahawalpur and the existence of a legal framework conducive to the implementation of the required veterinary functions related to FMD prevention and control. In addition, the Bahawalpur division has the necessary laboratory capacity, an appropriate disease surveillance model, and efforts to control FMD in the region through preventive and emergency vaccination programs have been made. The implementation of the above-mentioned operations is facilitated by a strong link between local veterinary authorities and farmers.
However, critical gaps were also identified. The establishment of a FMD-free zone with vaccination will only be possible if the identified deficiencies are rectified. Recommendations have been developed to address these gaps.
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