Kapo’s determination: Building resilience to African Swine Fever

When African Swine Fever (ASF) arrived in Papua New Guinea in March 2020, Dr Nime Kapo was tasked to provide technical advice to the Office of the Chief Veterinary Officer in NAQIA.

As a well-qualified and respected veterinarian in PNG, his role involved helping develop and implement an appropriate response strategy amidst the country’s unique pig husbandry practices.

 This included the notably high cultural value of the pig commodity, and the related social and economic pressures that arise as a result of this pig disease.

There is no approved vaccine for ASF and control is only possible by applying appropriate containment measures in affected areas.

With the disease posing an immediate threat to the livelihoods of over 340,000 households in the affected areas in the Highlands, an effective response required technical expertise and a well-coordinated team effort.  

Using his technical experience combined with clear-thinking and communication skills, Dr Kapo continues to work with the PHAMA Plus team in assisting NAQIA to build resilience to future ASF outbreaks in the country.

Dr Kapo recognizes the shortage of technical manpower in PNG’s veterinary sector; however, the support from seasoned animal health stalwarts and enthusiastic new scientists in NAQIA has been a driving force for him.

“With the shortage of technical manpower in the veterinary sector, the core of the veterinary services has been anchored by the seasoned animal health and production stalwarts of the then Agriculture Protection Division in DAL and now NAQIA and a few expatriate veterinarians, plus a couple of indigenous vets,” he said.

“You have to admire and be motivated by their raw courage and determination in the face of constraints and adversity in this field.”

He also acknowledged the teamwork led by NAQIA as the competent authority, and engagement of partners locally (affected districts and provinces), nationally and globally such as PHAMA Plus (Australia and NZ Governments), FAO, OIE, CSIRO Australia, Australian Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE), World Bank, and the Burnet Institute.

As a key driver in the fight against ASF, Dr Kapo was recently awarded the DT Global Award for Technical Excellence 2021.

His message to young women and men in PNG is to, “Do the best you can in your little way to always contribute positively to the advancement of your country.”

As part of the effort to build resilience to future ASF outbreaks, Dr Kapo continues to support value-chain and behavior change activities targeting pig farming communities.

*For more more information, please contact PHAMA Plus Country Manager PNG Sidney Suma on s.suma@phamaplus.com.au. 

Sign up today for the latest news