President Faure Gnassingbé participates at the FAO Summit (United Nations Organization for Food and Agriculture), since Saturday in Rome.
Flanked by Presidents, Vice-Presidents, Ministers and other international dignitaries, FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf today unveiled a commemorative plaque to celebrate global freedom from rinderpest, or cattle plague, one of history's deadliest animal diseases and a long-time threat to human livelihoods and food security.
The global eradication of rinderpest, achieved under an FAO coordinated programme, makes the virus the first animal disease to be eliminated from its natural setting thanks to human efforts and international cooperation, and only the second disease of any kind to be eradicated, after smallpox in humans.
"Over the years, I have frequently said that the world has the means necessary to eliminate hunger, malnutrition and extreme poverty," said Diouf. "The total eradication of rinderpest — a disease that decimated cattle, buffalo and many other animal species, both domestic and wild — is proof of this today."
This is a major success for humanity. For over a thousand years the plague spread over the world's continents, annihilating millions of animals and leading to precarious living and food security conditions for the people who depended on them.
A commemorative plaque at FAO Headquarters cites professionals, technical and financial institutions and member states for their exemplary work and collaboration in the eradication effort.
The celebration took place on the opening day of the 37th biennial FAO Conference, the meeting of the highest governing body of the Organization. The Conference is expected to adopt a resolution formally recognizing global freedom from rinderpest on 28 June.
The Togolese President delivered a speech on Saturday morning in which he praised the "culmination of a long struggle."
"The Togolese people are deeply pleased to celebrate with you on this memorable day," said the head of state.
Referring to the specific situation of Togo, Faure said that his country had suffered the ravages of rinderpest there is just one century.
"It was in 1911 that this previously unknown terror hit Togo, decimated 30% of cattle in just a few months."