Tunis/Tunisia — Tunisia will soon be equipped with a monitoring system for agro-terrorism and agro-crime threats to animal health, thanks to a recently established consortium between the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the International Criminal Police Organisation (INTERPOL), aimed at strengthening the country's resilience to these threats.
The project, which is funded by Global Affairs Canada (GAC) Weapons of Mass Destruction Threat Reduction Programme, aims to develop a response to biological risks related to animal health and the use of animal pathogens.
In a first stage, a mission to the regions of Tunis, Nabeul, Zaghouan, Sidi Bouzid, Kairouan, Kasserine, Gafsa, Médenine and Tataouine, will be conducted by the project team with national partners (the military health services of the Defence Ministry), the forensic police and the national security services of the Interior Ministry, the customs services of the Finance Ministry, the veterinary services of the Agriculture Ministry).
Efforts will focus on strengthening collaboration between veterinary services and law enforcement agencies to improve their capacity to deal with animal health emergencies.
To this end, the FAO The Surveillance Evaluation Tool (SET) to provide countries with a comprehensive and standardised way to evaluate animal disease surveillance systems.
Already used in 18 countries, this tool has provided veterinary services with an objective, standardised, comprehensive and systematic assessment of animal disease surveillance systems and has helped evaluate the capacity of countries to detect animal disease outbreaks.
Acting Minister of Agriculture, Water Resources and Fisheries, Fadhel Kraiem, who chaired the launch ceremony of the consortium, said that "the presence of infectious pathogens and toxins in animal populations and products of animal origin poses a considerable and permanent threat to animal health, the economy, biodiversity, the security of the food supply (grains and livestock), food safety and public health...the risk of a disease spreading to susceptible human or animal populations as a result of the deliberate or accidental release of an infectious agent or toxin is real and must be taken seriously.
He pointed out that "Tunisia is fully committed in accordance with "the One Health initiative based on the interconnection between animal health, human health and their shared environment, to strengthen its animal health system to reduce the threat of biological risks."
The One Health concept is a worldwide strategy for expanding interdisciplinary collaborations and communications in all aspects of health care for humans, animals and the environment. The synergism achieved will advance health care for the 21st century and beyond by accelerating biomedical research discoveries, enhancing public health efficacy, expeditiously expanding the scientific knowledge base, and improving medical education and clinical care.