Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

Hiroyuki Konuma

FAO Regional Representative for Asia-Pacific

OPENING REMARKS

by

He Changchui
Assistant Director-General and
Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific
Delivered at the

Regional Workshop on SOP Writing for Outbreak Investigation and Response

FAORAP, Bangkok
11 November 2008




National counterparts of Avian Influenza Surveillance and Response,
Distinguished experts,
FAO colleagues,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Good morning to all of you.

First of all, I would like to extend, on behalf of the FAO Regional Office and on my own behalf, a warm welcome to you all to this Regional Workshop for Writing Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Outbreak Investigation and Response.  I wish also to express my appreciation to the participants and resource persons to the workshop. I understand that our national participants are front-liners from the national veterinary services who are directly involved in the development and technical writing of standard operating procedures and national guiding documents for outbreak investigation and response.

Today’s meeting will be of immense regional benefit as FAO continues to provide leading technical guidance and directions for outbreak investigation and response to HPAI and other transboundary animal diseases (TADs).

SOPs are written instructions that document essential activities followed by an organization or group of people working towards the same goal. In the case of HPAI emergency response, the goal is early detection of outbreaks and rapid containment of disease. The present workshop will attempt to develop proformas for the guidance, adoption and use by countries in their battle against outbreaks of HPAI and TADs. We will draw up from countries’ experiences, lessons learnt and best practices over the past four years, prevailing within and outside of the region. We anticipate that the outcome of this workshop will be a regional guideline that will provide standard working protocols to be used to undertake HPAI outbreak investigation and response.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The goal of outbreak investigation is to promptly identify the cause and provide appropriate and sound recommendations for disease control. The goal of outbreak response is to mount an emergency response plan that rapidly contains an outbreak and prevents its spread beyond infected areas. We all desire to work toward these same goals for public good. We therefore need to agree on a harmonized set of procedures for rapid action to achieve these goals when faced with emergency disease outbreaks, more so if these diseases cross international boundaries.

Asia has been the region that has been mostly affected by HPAI. It is also in our region that a number of novel infectious diseases like porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) and zoonoses like Nipah virus infection have emerged in recent years. Throughout these years, numerous first hand experiences were gained and lessons learned along with emerging challenges. Lessons need to be carefully analyzed so that we can finally start turning the tables, and that more sound and effective surveillance approaches and measures are developed for timely responses to disease events.

Ladies and gentlemen,

You are well aware that FAO and its partners have been deeply involved in building and/or rebuilding capacities for national surveillance and outbreak responses against HPAI through various emergency and technical assistance programmes such as training and workshops, advocating public communications and awareness, development of infrastructures and laboratories, institutional strengthening and regional networking. Together, we have made considerable headway towards improving and enhancing national animal health and veterinary services, and building up the necessary inter-country cooperation network. Intensive efforts by AI affected and at risk countries have shown promising results, but more is still needed for further improving surveillance and building technical and operational capacities of national veterinary services.

I wish to convey FAO’s long term commitment to fighting against avian influenza and other transboundary animal diseases, and continuing our efforts for and dedication to sustainable regional approaches on TADs.

I take this opportunity to express my gratitude to the Asian Development Bank for supporting this workshop and for OIE Southeast Asia Office and the ASEAN HPAI Task Force Chair for their contributions. The funding support to emergency and development programmes generously provided by donors through FAO to countries in the region has been crucial for the progress made in enhancing capacities to respond to the disease threats. Indeed, continued support to the region from donors and partners will be equally crucial and essential for sustaining the efforts and facing ever increasing challenges at global, regional and national levels.

Thank you.