Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

Bird flu: three subregional veterinary networks for Asia

30 Jul 2004 -- To bolster the campaign against the disease - $1.2 million FAO project

Bangkok – A veterinary network for Southeast Asia has been launched to bolster the campaign against avian influenza, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) announced today. Two similar networks for South and East Asia will follow soon. FAO will provide around $1.2 million for the creation of these subregional platforms.

“National borders cannot stop the disease from spreading,” said Joseph Domenech, Chief of the FAO Animal Health Service.

“Avian influenza, which continues to pose a serious threat to human and animal health requires rapid and effective national and regional responses. While individual countries have made some progress, only regional cooperation is likely to achieve success,” he said.

The networks will offer training and information exchange platforms for national laboratories and surveillance teams from 23 Asian countries.

FAO launched the first network for Southeast Asia at a three-day regional meeting of veterinary officers and laboratory experts that ended in Bangkok today.

Weaknesses and success

The three subregional networks will bring together affected and non-affected countries to better coordinate the control and prevention of bird flu. Holding the meeting now is particularly appropriate as new outbreaks of avian influenza are increasingly being recognized in Asia, FAO said.

“Our aim is to improve the quality of diagnosis and epidemiological data. This will help countries to judge the effectiveness of their control campaigns, identify weaknesses or share success stories,” Domenech said. “Therefore, the region will be in a much better position to respond to the avian influenza threat,” he said.

As a result of these emergency projects, national animal disease diagnostic laboratories and field surveillance teams will have the capacity for diagnosing and detecting avian influenza. Harmonized standards on disease detection and reporting will be applied throughout the three subregions.

Training

Veterinary staff will be trained in applying harmonized diagnostic and field surveillance tools.

The leading laboratory and surveillance focal points for national bird flu campaigns will meet twice per year to discuss the progress achieved. International experts will support countries in training, laboratory diagnosis and field surveillance.

FAO has closely cooperated with the World Animal Health Organization (OIE) in setting up these networks. They will be linked to the influenza networks of the World Health Organization (WHO).

The Southeast Asia network will cover Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Thailand, East Timor and Viet Nam.

The network for South Asia will include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

In East Asia, China, Japan, the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, Mongolia, and the Republic of Korea will participate.

RAP 04/29

More information at:
http://www.fao.org/ag/againfo/subjects/en/health/diseases-cards/special_avian.html