Strengthening Capacity to Control African Swine Fever in Laos

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) supports the Lao government to strengthen capacity in the animal health sector to respond and control African Swine Fever in the pig population.

African swine fever (ASF) is a fatalhaemorrhagic disease in domestic and wild pigs. Since the first report of ASF in Asia in August 2018, a total of 16 countries in Asia and the Pacific have reported ASF outbreaks, including China, Mongolia, Viet Nam, Cambodia, DPR. Korea, the Lao PDR, Myanmar, the Philippines, R. Korea, Timor-Leste, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, India, Bhutan, Malaysia and Thailand.

The disease is very contagious and has caused millions of pigs to perish in the region. Consequently, farmers have occurred severe financial losses and hardship. The shortage of pork in many countries has seen dramatic increases in pork prices and dissatisfied consumers. Supply chains, including imports and exports, of live pigs and pork have been disrupted, increase the vulnerability of food supplies.

When ASF was reported in neighbouring countries and with the imminent threat of ASF arriving in the Lao PDR, FAO assisted the Department of Livestock and Fisheries (DLF) to develop guidelines to respond to an ASF outbreak.

Unfortunately, DLF first reported ASF outbreak in 2019 in all provinces resulting in 20,000 pig deaths and 6,000 pigs were culled in the response. During this ASF outbreak, FAO supported DLF with enhancing laboratory capacity to detect ASF and provided technical support and risk communication materials. In 2021, DLF, with support from FAO, conducted “Training of Trainers” on African Swine Fever (ASF) Detection and Emergency Response at sub-national level in 17 provinces. ASF currently is still present in the Lao PDR and for this reason today, FAO and DLF launch this new project: Strengthen Capacity to Control African Swine Fever and other Transboundary Animal Diseases (TADs) in the Lao PDR.

The purpose of the project is to further mitigate the potential risk for additional introduction and spread, as well as the impacts of the ASF and other high impact TADs Laos. The project aims to: a) Develop and implement strategies and strengthen capacities to detect, control and prevent ASF at the national provincial and district level, and b) Strengthen the national laboratory capacity to detect ASF.

FAO Representative to the Lao PDR Nasar Hayat, expressed his concerns about ASF in the Lao pig population. “As there is no vaccination available against ASF and there is no cure once animals are infected, prevention through increased biosecurity measures are vital. Together, FAO and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, we will ensure we further enhance the skills on how to combat ASF and emerging livestock diseases. FAO values the long-standing support from Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, the Republic of Korea in this important work,” Mr. Nasar Hayat said. He also stressed the importance of early detection of animal and human health threats, especially in the current COVID-19 pandemic environment.

Source: Lao News Agency