Dr Wimolporn Thitisak, Deputy Director General, Department of Livestock Development (DLD), Government of Thailand
Representatives from European Commission, ASEAN and SAARC
Colleagues from OIE, WHO, AusAID, USAID, World Bank, and USDA
Colleagues from FAO,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good morning to you all and welcome once again, this time, to the Sixth GF-TADs Regional Steering Committee Meeting for Asia and the Pacific. I am pleased to learn that you had a most fruitful meeting yesterday during the EU-HPED Steering Committee Meeting.
I recall my first participation to the GF-TAD Regional Steering Committee Meeting in Tokyo several years back, when we were struggling to control the outbreaks of HPAI and mobilize resources to implement actions. Since then, we have successfully established a close partnership among OIE, FAO, development partners and recipient countries, for our concerted efforts, and implemented various activities resume for the prevention and control of the transboundary animal diseases in the region. We gained considerable experiences, lessons and assisted national and regional institutions to build up the sustainable capacity.
When outbreaks are occurring, we used to be too busy in taking emergency actions. This year, the outbreaks of HPAI and FMD have been much less than last year, and I think this is the right time to think medium/long term strategies and formulate the action plan of GF-TADs under a quite environment.
As you know, the GF-TADs, a joint FAO/OIE initiative endorsed by the member states of both organizations, has become a robust framework in addressing infectious diseases as evidenced by the response to the HPAI crisis, FMD, PRRS, and other emerging diseases, where the complementarities of skills and resources of both the FAO and OIE have been deployed in collaboration with national governments and regional organizations.
Indeed, implementing activities under this GF-TADs structure has strengthened the GF-TADs regional initiatives, and is contributing towards improved capacity of the regional organizations in supporting regional approaches to control and prevention of tranboundary animal diseases and emerging infectious diseases.
Our collective action to support control and eradication of transboundary animal diseases allows us to achieve more, and have yielded several important institutional and operational gains. Bringing together people, countries, institutions and donors have resulted in a winning combination of technical excellence, partnerships and collaboration. Efforts at promoting open dialogue, sharing of experiences and information, good co-ordination and trust between partners have resulted in tangible benefits with establishment of networks of experts and country clusters working towards the same goal and leading towards progressive harmonization of control efforts and more efficient use of resources.
Activities conducted under the GF-TADs umbrella have raised awareness of complex socio-economic and political issues around controlling high impact infectious diseases, and enhancing political and financial support.
On the ground, FAO’s Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD), the platform for implementing disease control programmes in the field, is working in close alliance with governments, regional organizations, private stakeholders and development partners. ECTAD activities in the field are also increasingly engaging with the farming communities from inception through to completion and evaluation to ensure their ‘buy in’. The work conducted to address the HPAI over the last seven years has laid down the foundation for an early warning and early response to possible high impact emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases. Currently there is more information and ‘know how’ at country level to control transboundary animal diseases than before. ECTAD is continually involved in conducting technical and policy level dialogue to ensure that the best and most appropriate disease control options are deployed given the diversity of farming systems and economic development of countries in the region.
The resurgence of FMD and the frequent occurrence of EIDs in the region are unfortunately stretching the resources of the national veterinary services of countries. It is a continuing challenge to maintain the core capacity and capability of the animal health services to respond to outbreaks hence we believe that sustainable ways of strengthening animal health systems is crucial to underpin effective response to prevent, prepare for threats of diseases. Hence, country ownership and commitment would be a key issue, and the regional organizations like ASEAN and SAARC must provide their political support and coordination mechanism to encourage the member countries to maintain such commitment.
FAO is currently strengthening its contribution to the Regional GF-TADs for Asia and the Pacific by involving full structure of FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific with the direct supervision of FAO Regional Representative, myself, and bringing FAO regional multi-disciplinary team members as a part of your team, including those expertise associated with trade, marketing, food safety, environment and natural resources.
I wish to reiterate FAO’s commitment to ensuring improved animal health status and more efficient production in the region as a means to enhancing food and nutrition security and improving the livelihoods of the farmers. Asia is now the most populous region in the world and demand for food is expected to rise. As it is, developing Asian countries now have the world’s highest growth rates of production and consumption of food derived from livestock. Growth in agriculture and food production must continue to feed the Asian population.
FAO will also continue to sustain its efforts to mobilize financial resources to enhance national and regional capacities to address the problem of high impact diseases in the region. FAO will also continue to work with different partners through mechanisms like the GF-TADs to facilitate dialogues between those who have the knowledge and those who need it. FAO believes that by turning knowledge into action, it is able to link the field to national, regional and global initiatives hence translating these initiatives into tangible forms of assistance to farmers.
I wish you all a successful conclusion of this meeting. Thank you.