Linking Epidemiology and Laboratory Research on Transboundary Animal Diseases and Zoonoses in EU and China

Policy discussions on African Swine Fever

Shuo Li, FAO ECTAD China

On 17 November 2014, 40 experts from the EU and Asia met in Beijing for the LinkTADs African Swine Fever Policy Event. In order to improve the preparedness for African Swine Fever (ASF), a deadly disease affecting pigs, FAO, China and the European Union (EU) jointly organized this meeting for a productive policy dialogue on the issue.

Some of the key speakers included Zhang Zhongjun, Carolyn Benigno, Daniel Beltrán-Alcrudo and Guo Fusheng from FAO; Jerome Lepeintre from EU Delegation to China; Wang Gongmin, Veterinary Bureau of the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture as well as José Manuel Sánchez-Vizcaíno from Universidad Complutense de Madrid.

We believe that one of the most important aims of the meeting was to create the framework for the participants to explore how lessons on fighting ASF learned in Europe could be applied to Asia by identifying the main policy gaps and challenges in the East and Southeast Asia. Another aim was to ultimately develop a set of recommendations and a follow-up strategy for ASF policy in the region.

This meeting has three main outcomes, and FAO ECTAD China believes that they should be considered by the Chinese veterinary officials in shaping official response to the deadly disease:

1. The decision makers have now realized the urgent need for international cooperation on prevention and control of ASF and other exotic diseases;

2. During the meeting, the EU experts raised many interesting questions and provided suggestions to Asian countries including China, which certainly will be helpful for relevant policy makers;

3. The Chinese officials now take into account that multilateral cooperation is crucial for controlling Transboundary Animal Diseases (TADs), and more policy dialogues of similar kind are welcome.

In our view, 11 cross-cutting recommendations for immediate action to build preparedness and improve ASF policy making, serve as the most important result of the LinkTADs policy event. Among other steps, the recommended actions for relevant stakeholders to take include:

  • increasing communication and awareness by conducting risk assessments and ensuring training,
  • assessing policies,
  • addressing backyard, low-biosecurity and wild boar issues,
  • linking with other swine disease efforts,
  • collaborating with forestry authorities and hunters 
  • mobilizing additional resources.

It is important to underline that the participants also expressed their positive view on the LinkTADs project, especially regarding the multidimensional network and platform on animal disease prevention and control established between the EU and China.