Mr Theera Rukkwamsuk, Associate Dean, Kasetsart University,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Good morning and welcome to Thailand.
On behalf of FAO, I wish to welcome you all to this FAO workshop on the assessment of Foot and Mouth Diseases (FMD) risks via Social Network Analysis.
First of all, I wish to thank two donors, Republic of Korea and the European Union for funding this important workshop through relevant on-going projects. I also wish to thank participants for participating this workshop despite of busy schedule.
This workshop comes at an opportune time when livestock diseases are occurring in countries thought to have better equipped national veterinary services in terms of human and capital resources. The recent FMD outbreaks reported in developed countries underlines the fact that animal diseases indeed have no boundaries and can have a devastating impact on animal production, trade in livestock and livestock products, food security, livelihoods, and consequently, on the overall process of economic development.
Livestock are important in supporting the livelihoods of poor livestock keepers, traders and laborers throughout the developing world. This is because livestock have a variety of characteristics that make them important contributors to sustainable rural development. They provide marketable products that can be produced by small-scale, household production systems, and are generally of higher value and less vulnerable to critical harvest timing than many crops. As an agricultural product, livestock are particularly attractive as a means for rural households to participate in urban-based economic growth. Livestock are also productive assets, which contribute directly to farm output through animal traction and indirectly as a store of wealth for future investment. Finally, they can contribute to soil fertility and recycling of agricultural waste.
Many livestock holders can benefit directly from the increasing market demand for livestock products. Demand growth for high value livestock commodities is increasing by 6 to 8 percent annually in Asia. Furthermore, the poor can also benefit from the fact that livestock development creates demand for labor, supports economic linkages with the feed and processing industries, sustains trade balances, encourages food security through stronger supply and can lead to lower prices for food of animal origin. However, smallholders and even larger producers face major constraints in actively participating in livestock development opportunities due to the heavy burden imposed by disease, including FMD. The adverse socio-economic impacts of FMD are significant in Southeast Asia, particularly in developing countries where the livestock sector shapes prospects for economic growth, poverty alleviation and food security. FMD can prevent the access of a country’s livestock and livestock products to higher value markets and this loss of trade opportunity can be significant. The impact of FMD falls disproportionately on the poor populations, in the form of production and marketing losses, reductions in household income and hindering the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The distribution of costs varies across households and communities.
FAO-RAP is implementing this workshop and follow-up field application studies as part of the joint efforts of two main projects including the Korean funded project “FMD Control in Southeast Asia through Application of the Progressive Control Pathway (RoK-FMD)” and the European Union (EU) funded “Highly Pathogenic Emerging Diseases (EU-HPED)” project. The projects aim to improve the control and management of FMD through the application of the Progressive Control Pathway (PCP) for FMD in each of the following participating countries: Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam.
The early PCP stages focus on a general understanding of FMD risk and control within particular livestock sectors. ‘Risk hotspots’, defined as points in the production system and marketing network where there is a high risk of FMD entry and/or spread, should be identified. Control measures to mitigate the risk at these points are selected on the basis of identified critical control points and risk pathways. Risk assessment techniques, particularly the application of Social Network Analysis to FMD, will be extremely useful to accomplish this.
The contact between infected and non-infected animals is one of the major risk factors for the spread of FMD and other infectious animal diseases. Social Network Analysis allows the description of the contact structure of livestock populations. Potential routes of FMD transmission can be investigated based on known transmission routes within animal networks. Social Network Analysis is formally addressing the role of the pattern of interactions between units (traders, herds, markets, etc.) helping to explain the occurrence and spread of the disease. Social Network Analysis is a well established methodology applied in veterinary epidemiology and can be applied to identify nodes in the livestock supply chain which pose a high risk of FMD spread. Understanding the epidemiology of FMD is a key principle of the PCP for FMD.
FAO recognizes that it is a continuing challenge to maintain the core capacity and capability of the animal health services to respond to FMD outbreaks and other diseases hence it believes that improving the governance of animal health systems is the most effective response to disease emergencies and preparedness. Hence FAO believes that improving the governance of animal health systems is the most effective response to prevent diseases and execute actions. FAO therefore appreciates very much that this principle is shared by our donors.
I wish to thank the resource persons from Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Kasetsart University and all the country representatives and the FAO staff in participating in this important workshop.
I wish you all a fruitful outcome from this workshop.