Dr. Ronello Abila, OIE Representative
Dr. Sen Sovann and ASEAN officials,
Colleagues from OIE, WHO, USAID, JICA, Australia, Bangladesh, China, India and Nepal
Colleagues from FAO,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
A very pleasant good morning to all of you.
First of all, on behalf of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, I wish to extend a warm welcome to you all to this important meeting being held here in Bangkok.
We have a very strong participation from countries in Asia, the regional organizations, advanced research institutions, major international agencies and donors. Major stakeholders are present here clearly signifying the importance of this meeting which will broadly address the issues around animal and public health risks attributable to zoonoses and animal diseases under ‘One Health’ concept. I would very much like to thank all the participants to find time to attend this meeting.
Over the last 10 years there have been a large number of crises and challenges of global proportions requiring global solutions. One of these has been the emergence and re-emergence, and spread of infectious diseases. Many of these diseases have caused huge socio-economic impacts. The ongoing crisis of HPAI still continues to pose a serious pandemic influenza threat. It is becoming clear that the emergence and re-emergence of disease is driven by a number of human factors that include the exponential growth in human and livestock populations, rapid urbanization, rapidly changing farming systems, closer integration between livestock and wildlife, forest encroachment, changes in ecosystems, impact of climate change and globalization of trade in animal and animal products.
You will recall that based on the recommendation from the International Ministerial Conference on Avian and Pandemic Influenza in 2007, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Bank and the UN System Influenza Coordinator (UNSIC) jointly developed a Strategic Framework for Reducing Risks of Infectious Diseases at the Animal–Human–Ecosystems Interface. This Strategic Framework establishes how best to diminish the risk and minimize the global impact of epidemics and pandemics due to Emerging Infectious Diseases. Successful implementation of this Strategic Framework will contribute significantly to the overall goal of improving public health, food safety and security, and the livelihoods of poor farming communities, as well as protecting the health of ecosystems according to the One Health concept.
Recognizing the need for preparing each member country and the region as a whole to be capable of early detection and respond to high impact disease outbreaks and strengthen collaboration between the animal and public health sectors as part of the Strategic Framework mentioned earlier, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and the World Health Organization (WHO) are jointly implementing the IDENTIFY project, which is a component of the Emerging Pandemic Threats (EPT) programme funded by the United State Agency for International Development (USAID). The ultimate goal of IDENTIFY project is to link together a comprehensive regional cooperative network that is fully capable of rapidly diagnosing listed terrestrial animal diseases and unusual epidemiological events or emerging diseases, and investigating events of potential international public health concern, keeping in mind that diagnostic results would be transmitted to National Authorities for taking action and reporting to OIE or to WHO when required. The strengthening of laboratory networks within and across sectors along with meaningful investments in regional and national capacity building should result in more accurate and timely identification of pathogens threatening animal and human health.
Apart from sharing IDENTIFY project objectives and strategies, this meeting provides an opportunity for high level representatives from national animal health services and international organizations to discuss policy issues on broader multi-sectoral collaboration and the key strategies and activities needed for strengthening diagnostic capacities through enhanced linkage of the existing laboratory networks spanning animal and human sectors specific to Southeast Asia.
FAO is very pleased to be associated with the USAID’s Emerging Pandemic Threat Programme and its various components. The major objectives of the donor and the activities that are supported through this programme are broadly serving the broader goal of enhancing public and animal health, improving livestock productivity, improving food security, supporting the livelihoods of poor farming communities and
contributing to the alleviation of food insecurity.
Before closing, ladies and gentlemen, may I encourage all the participants in the meeting to adopt a team work approach in developing the work plan with clear timelines for activities and defining the roles and responsibilities of each party so that we may work not only in synergy and in complimentary with other existing projects but also effectively and efficiently.
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Government of United States their financial support and entrusting FAO, OIE and WHO to implement the laboratory networks in Asia. I look forward to a productive interaction and strengthened collaboration among all the key stakeholders. I wish you success in this meeting.