Ladies and gentlemen,
The FAO Asia programme on highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), under ECTADRAP, was launched in early 2006. Over the last eight years, the ECTADRAP team has developed significant experience of managing and coordinating HPAI activities in Asia. The disease situation has also evolved during the last few years driven by myriad of factors that include domestic and regional trade in poultry and poultry products, emergence of new clades and sub-clades of the viruses, growing national and regional capacities in disease prevention and control, implementation of various technical activities, and increasing public awareness of the disease. Since the inception of ECTADRAP, a number of outbreaks of potentially high impact emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases have occurred in the region, and FAO has responded by providing coordinated support through it ECTADRAP and country teams, and the CMC-AH from the Headquarters.
Building on the experience of cross-sectoral and multi-disciplinary approach to controlling HPAI and acknowledging the importance of high impact EIDs and TADs, ECTADRAP and the country teams have increasingly embraced and promoted the One Health approach to support prevention and control. To follow on from this initiative, ECTADRAP has formally established a regional tripartite (FAO/OIE/WHO) arrangement that includes the OIE Sub-regional Office for Southeast Asia (OIE-SRR) based in Bangkok and WHO Regional Office for East Asia and Pacific (WPRO) and WHO Regional Office for South and Southeast Asia (SEARO), based in Manila and New Delhi, respectively. The collaboration with these organizations has been strengthened through a number of joint meetings, workshops, training, and development of joint regional approaches.
The ECTAD team as a whole has been extremely active in mobilizing resources to support disease control measures in the region beyond HPAI and continue to maintain a strong profile in the field of high impact infectious zoonotic and non-zoonotic diseases in the region.
While a number of donors, including the USAID, are beginning to appreciate the wide-ranging human impacts of infectious diseases and are increasingly supporting one health related activities. The endemicity of HPAI in certain countries in Asia and the emergence of the HPAI virus clade 126.96.36.199 in the region does not exclude the importance of HPAI as a potential pandemic threat, rather endemicity signals that a different and innovative approach is needed at the country and regional levels. Given the institutional changes in FAO related to de-centralization, clarity on roles and responsibilities as well as the guidance to the country teams to ensure efficient program and project implementation needs to be discussed.
In presence of ECTAD teams from Headquarters, regional and sub-regional offices and the country teams, this is the opportunity to discuss on how to address the above mentioned transitions and to position ECTADRAP for new opportunities. Therefore, the Seventh Annual Regional ECTAD Meeting (AREM) is expected to focus on three major areas:
- H5N1 situation and find innovative approach to manage HPAI in the region;
- Future directions and strategies to ensure that they are synergistic to the FAO’s strategic objectives and the Animal Health Action Plan and ensure that it can maintain its profile as a strong technical agency among its partners in addressing the global issue of high impact infectious diseases under the One Health approach.
- Modality of operating under the new system in light of decentralization and how to maintain synergy with FAO’s corporate strategy.
I wish you a productive and fruitful meeting.
Thank you very much.