Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

Hiroyuki Konuma

FAO Regional Representative for Asia-Pacific

OPENING REMARKS

by

He Changchui
Assistant Director-General and
Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific

Delivered at the

 Inauguration Ceremony
Field Epidemiology Training Program for Veterinarians (FETPV)

5 June 2009, Bangkok




Dr. Yukol Limlamthong, Director General, Department of Livestock Development, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives
Dr. Olivier Carduner, Mission Director, United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
Dr. Nichipanit, Deputy Director General, Department of Disease Control, Ministry of Public Health
Dr. Nirundorn,Director, Bureau of Disease Control and Veterinary Services, Department of Livestock Development
Distinguished Experts
FAO Colleagues
Ladies and Gentlemen


Good morning to you all.

First of all, I would like to extend my appreciation, on behalf of the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, to the Department of Livestock Development for hosting this inauguration ceremony to officially recognize the inception of the Field Epidemiology Training Program for Veterinarians (FETPV). I would also like to express my appreciation to the United States Agency for International Development, the participants and the resource persons organizing this inauguration ceremony. I understand that many of the participants attending this ceremony have been involved in the development of FETPV over the past year and are gathering together here to formally initiate the program as the first cohort of FETPV trainees is just beginning.

Today’s inauguration ceremony marks an historic regional milestone in FAO’s continuing effort to support capacity building for member countries in the region. While we have recently improved our ability to anticipate, detect early and respond before these diseases affect millions of lives and livelihoods, it is also true that much more work is needed. Building capacity in epidemiology and laboratory diagnosis is a key part to fulfill the effort of early detection and early response to a disease outbreak. Thus far, avian influenza programmes have allowed us to improve laboratory capacity significantly through improvement of facilities, provision of equipment, necessary supplies and training to the laboratory staff. However building capacity in epidemiology from our experience in the last four years has been more challenging.

To have better understanding of emerging infectious diseases in order to improve planning for animal disease prevention and control, people remain our most valuable resource. The Field Epidemiology Program for Veterinarians (FETPV) which is based upon the well established medical training model called the Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP) is aimed to provide “training through service”. The program will provide both formal training and mentoring while the trainees will still carry out their jobs. This learning cannot take place however, without continuing support from the institutes they represents.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Today, we are also taking an important step forward by building stronger linkage between animal and human health sectors in order to effectively address emerging infectious diseases challenges. FAO offers its full support to such technical and institutional partnerships in light of the fact that disease respects neither natural nor man-made boundaries. At this point, on behalf of FAO, I would like to acknowledge the leadership and commitment from the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives and the Ministry of Health in Thailand for their collaboration and for taking this initial historic step together.

As you are fully aware, FAO and its partners have been deeply involved in building capacity at national and regional levels through emergency and technical assistance programs such as workshops, communications advocacy, raising awareness, building laboratory infrastructure, institutional strengthening and regional networks. It is also important to note that FAO’s commitment to FETPV is closely aligned with its Global Strategic Framework which emphasizes the importance of transboundary animal diseases, food safety and security and natural disasters. Though there has been much progress made thus far, FAO recognizes the need to continue to adapt to the evolving nature of transboundary diseases in the region.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to re-iterate FAO’s long term commitment to capacity building focusing on people, technical knowledge and supporting national, regional and global institutions required to meet the challenge of emerging infectious diseases. FAO will continue to work closely with its partners in the UN system, OIE, regional partners and donors to combine our efforts. This leads me to my closing comments.

I would like to especially take this opportunity to extend my gratitude to USAID for their financial support of FETPV and for their acknowledgement of FAO’s strengths in this area. Their vision and ongoing support will significantly contribute to improving our ability to detect and respond to new and emerging diseases more rapidly in the future. The support of donors such as USAID for capacity building at national and regional levels has been crucial for developing the type of programmes and people needed to address disease at national and regional levels. As FETPV develops within the region, strong commitment and continuing support from donors, partners and many of you will be needed to sustain our efforts to meet the challenges that can affect us all globally.

Thank you.