March 27, 2023
New Zealand to aid Pacific nations in combating animal diseases
New Zealand will provide support for Pacific countries to prevent the spread of harmful animal diseases, the country's Associate Minister of Agriculture, Meka Whaitiri, said.
"Highly contagious diseases such as African swine fever (ASF) and foot and mouth disease are a major concern for the Pacific," Whaitiri said. "In 2020-21, for instance, an outbreak of ASF in Papua New Guinea severely impacted the livelihoods of tens of thousands of families there. Climate change is also increasing the prevalence of pests and diseases affecting agricultural production and food security in the Pacific.
"It's important Pacific countries including New Zealand learn from each other and share knowledge to support each other when these sorts of outbreaks occur.
"We will focus on strengthening border biosecurity, disease surveillance and veterinary capacity across the Pacific, and I'm pleased to announce that one new initiative will be an internship programme supported by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and Massey University.
"This will enable vet students from Fiji National University to gain the valuable, practical experience required to qualify as vets in Fiji.
"It's a practical way in which New Zealand can assist in building vital animal health capacity in the Pacific and strengthen biosecurity and animal health practices and I am very pleased we can support it."