The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) provided 800 000 doses of peste des petits ruminants (PPR) vaccines to the Government of Sierra Leone and launched a nationwide vaccination campaign of sheep and goats against this endemic animal disease.
PPR is a highly contagious animal disease affecting domestic and wild small ruminants, caused by a virus that can infect up to 90 percent of an animal herd , and kills up to 70 percent of the infected animals. The PPR virus does not infect humans, but puts families at risk of losing their livelihoods, food security, and employment opportunities. In addition, PPR considerably affects export earnings and creates supply shortages.
Sierra Leone continues to experience rampant outbreaks of PPR, which is now endemic in the country and affects almost all districts. In this regard, and to contribute for its global eradication by 2030, the FAO Global PPR Secretariat with funding from the “Peste des Petits Ruminants Global Eradication Programme”, funded by the French Government, donated 800 000 doses of PPR vaccines to support mass vaccination of sheep and goats against this fatal animal disease in the country.
In addition FAO Sierra Leone is implementing a Technical Cooperation Programme TCP/SIL/3806 on “Support to Sierra Leone for Review of Cattle Settlement Policy, Protection of Livelihood Assets through Livestock Vaccination and improving Food Security during COVID-19 Pandemic’’. Part of the funding under this TCP will be used to support the country to conduct mass vaccination against PPR and to conduct pre-vaccination sero-monitoring in all the 16 districts.
During the handover ceremony, Mr. Harding Wuyango, Assistant FAO Representative for Programmes and Officer in Charge, noted that Sierra Leone continues to experience widespread outbreaks PPR, Newcastle disease and rabies. He added that FAO providing vaccines and support to conduct mass vaccination campaigns as well as strengthening the capacity of animal health sector to prevent, detect and respond to peste des petits ruminants outbreaks.”
The Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Dr. Theresa Tenneh Dick, while receiving the vaccines, said that PPR vaccines from FAO was a very timely move. “On behalf of the Ministry of Agriculture, I extend my sincere appreciation to FAO for this donation of 800 000 doses of PPR vaccines.
The representative of the University of Makeni (UNIMAK), Dr. Saidu Kanu, registered gratitude for the donation and the launch of the mass vaccination campaign. “PPR is a problem in the country, affecting the livelihood of farmers and rural people who mainly depend on livestock as their safety net; I have no doubt, with the support from FAO, the fight against PPR will succeed.” Dr. Kanu appealed to FAO to extend their support to the country to procure vaccines against Newcastle disease which is another major disease in the country devastating the poultry sector and impacting on livelihoods of the rural farmers.
The Fula Chief of Bombali District thanked FAO and the Government of Sierra Leone for providing the vaccines. The Chief noted that farmers in Bombali have lost over 100 cows and 70 sheep due to infection, and similar cases were reported around Kenema, the Eastern province of the country.
In 2021, Sierra Leone benefited from a similar donation of one million doses of PPR vaccines from FAO Global PPR Secretariat. In addition, FAO supported the country the review and validation of the National Strategy for the Control and eradication of Peste des Petits Ruminants and other priority small ruminant diseases in 2019. The review was aimed at aligning the National PPR strategy to the Global PPR strategy which aims to control and eradicate PPR and other major small ruminants’ diseases by the year 2030.
With funding support from the FAO Global PPR Secretariat, the Peste des Petits Ruminants Global Eradication Programme (PPR-GEP) highlights the technical and policy tools foreseen as appropriate to lay the foundation for and commencement of PPR eradication by reducing the prevalence of PPR in currently infected countries. The programme also develops capacity of national Veterinary Services, which are the key players in the successful implementation of the PPR GEP.
Contributing to eradicate PPR in Sierra Leone will increase sustainability, alleviate poverty, improve the resilience of poor pastoralists and their communities, enable them to better cope with other shocks and threats, prevent forced migration and mitigate extremist trends.