Dr Trissadee, Director General and Officials of the Department of Livestock Development,
Our National Counterparts from the Ministries of Agriculture and Ministry of Public Health,
Dr Solomon Benigno, ASEAN Secretariat,
Dr Tareque Muhammad, SAARC Secretariat,
Partners in the region: OIE, WHO, AusAID, USAID and,
Colleagues from FAO headquarters and RAP Colleagues,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, it is my honor and privilege to extend a warm welcome to you all to this important meeting being held here in Chiang Mai.
First of all, I wish to thank all participants here today for their attendance despite of busy schedule. I recognize the participation of nearly 100 people including those from 17 member countries.
Food security is one of the most pressing problems of the present day - ensuring that sufficient, safe food is produced in a sustainable way and that all who need food can have access to it, even when volatile economies and food prices, and natural disasters make already uncertain livelihoods even more unstable.
As you know, recent years have seen rapid growth in the intensification of farming systems to meet demands for food, greater encroachment into forests by humans and thus resulting in greater interaction between humans and wild life. These factors combined with climate change and globalization increase the risk of zoonotic diseases. Emerging and re-emerging zoonotic infections pose significant threats to health security and livelihoods while increasing the risk of trade disruptions and economic losses to countries, particularly the poorer nations.
One of the main concerns of the livestock sector in Southeast Asia is the widespread infection of poultry, pigs and cattle which are important sources of animal protein in this region. Within the region there is a range of different types of livestock farming systems. Among these systems, mixed production involving pigs, poultry and other livestock is very common. Poor farming communities are closely linked with these farming systems which are poorly biosecured favoring the introduction and spread of diseases. Given that many of these diseases are zoonotic, highlights the need for greater cooperation between the animal and public health sectors.
FAO and OIE have taken a lead role in coordinating the international response to control at the animal source of transboundary animal diseases (TADs). A key mechanism for coordination between FAO and OIE and WHO for zoonotic diseases was the establishment of the Global Framework for the Progressive Control of Transboundary Animal Diseases (GF-TADs) in 2004. GF-TADs is a facilitating mechanism which endeavours to empower regional alliances in the fight against transboundary animal diseases (TADs), to provide for capacity building and to assist in establishing programmes for the specific control of certain TADs based on regional priorities. This framework remains very much in effect till today.
Under this overall framework, the FAO regional office has been working closely with OIE, ASEAN, SAARC and other national and international partners towards developing regional and national plans for control of transboundary and emerging infectious diseases. In 2010, efforts expanded to begin to work more closely with the public health sector through WHO as part of a greater interdisciplinary approach that is at the basis of the One Health concept and philosophy.
If our aim is to protect human and animal health, and safeguard food security from potential pandemics, then actions toward this end should be on all fronts. This makes a crucial need to bring together the animal, human and other relevant health sectors and discuss how we could avoid pathogens from freely mixing in both animal and human populations. We should now seize the opportunity to prevent the situation from becoming worse through the use of a definitive One Health system approach. Concerted epidemic intelligence among animal health and public health workers is needed more than ever before.
Therefore, this workshop will be a good opportunity for the member countries to review and share information on the situation and share experience of collaborative efforts as well as problems and constraints encountered in the prevention and control of zoonotic diseases. This workshop should also allow us to develop roadmap and produce a draft framework for collaborative activities to strengthen zoonoses prevention and control among the international and regional organizations and member countries for the coming five years.
Finally, I would like to express my gratitude to our strategic partners, OIE and WHO for their collaboration in organizing this important workshop, as well as the Department of Livestock Development who hosted this gathering and organizing the field trip. I wish you all a successful start to this regional undertaking.
Thank you very much.