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FAO Advances Biosecurity in Ghana's Livestock Sector

In Ghana's livestock sector, the pressing need for enhanced biosecurity practices to mitigate health risks and curb the transmission of zoonotic pathogens to humans is crucial. Recognizing this challenge, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has been at the forefront, advocating for a comprehensive approach to biosecurity measures.

FAO defines biosecurity as a fundamental aspect in safeguarding agriculture, food, and the environment from biological threats, emphasizing the critical role of key sectors including human, livestock and wildlife, plant and environment sectors in disease management. This emphasis aligns with the One Health approach, which recognizes the interconnectedness of human, animal, plant, and environmental health.

In response to this pressing issue, FAO has developed the Progressive Management Pathway for Terrestrial Animal Biosecurity (FAO-PMP-TAB), a collaborative stepwise approach designed to assess and manage biological risks at enterprise, community, and national levels. By fostering partnerships between public and private entities, co-designing, and implementing progressive strategic interventions, FAO-PMP-TAB aims to enhance animal health and productivity while safeguarding human health and preserving ecosystems.

In Accra, Ghana, FAO conducted an important backstopping mission to consult with national and subnational stakeholders on biosecurity situation including existing business models and local level capacities to implement FAO-PMP-TAB from 6 to 10 May 2024. This mission aimed to address the critical needs for enhanced biosecurity measures in Ghana's livestock sector particularly in the poultry value chain.

Notable outcomes emerged from this mission, including the identification of national and local task forces dedicated to implementing FAO-PMP-TAB, validation of the workplan and intensified collaboration between FAO, Ghana’s Veterinary Service Directorate, public and private stakeholders.

These advancements were made possible through focused discussions aimed at deepening stakeholders' understanding of biosecurity measures. Additionally, efforts were undertaken to enhance animal health policies and legislation and engage stakeholders, including the private sector, in implementation initiatives. These collective actions are geared towards elevating biosecurity practices and disease surveillance, fostering sustainable disease prevention and control in Ghana's poultry sector.

Reflecting on these efforts, beneficiaries expressed their gratitude and optimism for the future. "As farmers, we have seen firsthand the devastating effects of diseases on our poultry and the risks they pose to our health and livelihoods," said Isaac, from Ashaiman. "Engaging with stakeholders through initiatives like the FAO-PMP-TAB mission has given us hope for a future where our animals are healthier, our communities safer, and our environment more sustainable," they added. Similarly, Belinda, from Kasoa, affirmed, "We greatly appreciate the efforts made by the mission to involve us in the discussions and decision-making processes regarding biosecurity measures. This initiative has motivated us to take proactive steps towards safeguarding the health of our animals and communities, ensuring a sustainable future for all."

The mission achieved significant progress in understanding the current biosecurity situation and priorities for improvement within Ghana's poultry sector. The identification of stakeholders for the national and local task forces, willingness to participate, alongside the finalization of site selection and collaboration efforts have provided a strong framework for implementing the FAO-PMP-TAB. Moving forward, the agreed work plan sets a clear path for further advancements in biosecurity measures and sustainable disease prevention and control in the poultry sector in Ghana. Through collaborative efforts and strategic interventions, FAO continues to play a pivotal role in enhancing biosecurity and safeguarding animal health and production and public health in Ghana and beyond and ensuring a safer and more resilient future for all.

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