15 March 2013 - Capable national laboratories and regional lab networks are essential to effective animal disease prevention and control. Well equipped and highly trained labs help countries detect, diagnose and manage diseases that threaten livestock, livelihoods and food safety. Laboratory networks help countries communicate, coordinate and harmonize approaches across borders and disciplines.
In recognition of this fact, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) held an inter-regional meeting from 4 to 6 March 2013 as part of ongoing efforts under the IDENTIFY project – a component of the Emerging Pandemic Threats Program from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). FAO gathered together 20 experts from its international, multidisciplinary team to take stock of past activities and plan future support to strengthen the capacity of laboratories and lab networks. The meeting was held in Bangkok, Thailand and hosted by the FAO Regional Office of Asia and the Pacific.
Participants reviewed FAO’s support to nearly 37 laboratories in 25 countries within three specific regions: the Congo Basin, Southeast Asia and South Asia. Building on these experiences and benefitting from their broad range of lab and non-lab expertise, FAO colleagues captured lessons critical to the future implementation of national and regional activities. Participatory exercises helped solidify professional relationships and capitalize on the overarching team atmosphere that has enabled FAO to deliver quality support to laboratories and laboratories networks to date.
As a result of the meeting, participants mapped out future activities in several priority areas revealed through consensus-building discussions. Colleagues exchanged new ideas for improved collaboration, communication and information sharing. As part of overall laboratory assistance provided by the Emergency Prevention Service – Animal Health, FAO will continue to implement activities to strengthen laboratory capacity for rapid and accurate detection of targeted diseases.