Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

Hiroyuki Konuma

FAO Regional Representative for Asia-Pacific

Opening Statement

by

Hiroyuki Konuma
Assistant Director-General and
Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific

Putting One Health to work
A consultative meeting to develop an advocacy
action plan to promote One Health in countries

9 August 2011         

Dr. Richard Brown, Regional Advisor WHO,
Dr. Ronello Abila, Sub-Regional Representative, OIE,
Representatives from USAID, European Union, UN Agencies and partners,
Participants from nine countries,
Colleagues,
Ladies and gentlemen,

On behalf of FAO, it is my pleasure to welcome all of you to this important workshop on Putting One Health to Work. FAO is pleased and honoured to host this workshop, which further underlines our continued commitment in promoting One Health in the region of Asia and the Pacific. This is in keeping with the tripartite document developed by FAO, OIE and WHO -  Sharing responsibilities and coordinating global activities to address health risks at the animal-human-ecosystems interfaces - and reflects the spirit of the FAO Action Plan that institutionalizes One Health.
 
We warmly welcome our international partners, WHO regional offices SEARO and WPRO, OIE, representatives of regional organizations, development partners, governments and offices from nine countries of the region. We hope we will all share our experiences of both successes and challenges faced while moving to greater intersectoral collaboration between the human health, animal health and wildlife sectors in fighting infectious diseases — and thereby developing an advocacy action plan for countries to implement. 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As you all know, 75 percent of new human diseases are zoonotic: emerging or re-emerging in animals before crossing into human beings. There are growing risks that any one of a number of animal infectious diseases may become pandemic and threats human life.

Therefore, there has been a growing awareness of the need to act together strategically and with synergy across disciplines, geographies, human health, animal health and wildlife sectors.  Indeed, early identification and reporting of outbreaks benefits when epidemiologists work in harmony with animal and human health specialists as well as wildlife experts at the field level.  Rapid diagnosis requires efficient networks of laboratories sharing information across countries and regions. Inter-ministerial coordination and collaboration within a country together with effective   ways of communication and workable institutional mechanisms are needed to ensure rapid, effective and concerted  responses.

Consequently, the understanding of One Health and how to make it a part of the region’s working philosophy and process has been growing over the last year and more. We are beginning to see both the successes and challenges of inter-sectoral collaboration starting to show up in countries of the region as human health, animal health and wildlife professionals sit around the table and address the issues of working together. Some of these will be shared in this meeting.

Dissemination of knowledge to the general public on One Health approach hasn’t yet been fully exploited.  Indeed, advocacy for promoting One Health is an area that is only now beginning to receive serious attention and this meeting is an important first step.
Advocacy can play a key role in filling gaps in knowledge and creating the political will to adopt One Health and weave it through the fabric of disease prevention efforts.

Objectives of the workshop

This meeting is organized to share experiences and seek your advice to develop an advocacy action plan to promote One Health in countries in this region. FAO is privileged to organize this meeting with generous support from USAID, including their RESPOND programme, as well as the European Union. I would also like to acknowledge the role played by the United Nations Influenza Coordination in the months before it closed down, in organizing this meeting.

In this room today there are senior level technical practitioners from the three sectors, including public health, fisheries, livestock, forestry, and wildlife among others. Broadening the scope of this meeting, we also have representation from Ministries of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forests, and Departments of Livestock Development from countries of the region.

Tomorrow, FAO will also share a recently developed regional communication strategy framework powered by the One Health philosophy, called One Health: Seeing around corners, which is the result of extensive consultation with UNICEF, UNSIC, and some inputs from WHO SEARO, as well as international NGOs. This document has already been introduced in draft form in Bangladesh, Indonesia and Viet Nam, resulting in strong recommendations and endorsements in each of those countries of the need to develop a One Health national communication strategy driven by this framework.

I sincerely hope other countries of the region will also consider a more harmonized and strategic approach to One Health communication.

Participants of this important meeting will build on the successes and challenges identified in the last year or so, to develop an advocacy action plan. This plan will be the first time that diverse sectors have sat together to develop a way to tackle barriers in the way of implementing One Health. I wish to express our deep gratitude to all of you who will share your time and experiences, and wish you a fruitful experience of collaborative thinking and planning. I wish you all a highly successful event.

Thank you.