FAO supports veterinary epidemiology capacity development in Asia and the Pacific
16 September 2010 - Veterinary epidemiology is the study of disease patterns within animal populations. In Asia and the Pacific, a number of diseases of animal origin have emerged in the last twelve years that threaten human and animal health and impact regional economic growth and livestock-dependent livelihoods. Diseases include Nipah virus, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI).
With the support of projects financed by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the European Union, and the Asian Development Bank, a regional advocacy meeting was held in Phuket, Thailand from 29–31 August 2010 to support and sustain veterinary epidemiology capacity development in Asia.
The meeting was jointly organized by the Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Department of Livestock Development (DLD) of Thailand. About 30 participants attended including eight Chief Veterinary Officers (CVOs) of the eleven countries invited (Australia, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, People’s Republic of China, Thailand, and Viet Nam), as well as officials from the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), academics from Murdoch University, and representatives from poultry and swine commercial sectors.
The main thrust of this regional advocacy meeting was to show the value of veterinary epidemiology at central levels (decision makers) and local or sub-national levels (staff involved in event response, disease investigation and field sampling) in light of the generally low numbers of regional academic institutions and qualified personnel available to teach and conduct discipline-specific training. Participants recognized the importance of and agreed to support capacity development in veterinary epidemiology within veterinary services, including through exploring options and mechanisms for developing partnerships with the private sector and academia. FAO and OIE will support member countries in developing national and regional strategies for capacity development; and facilitate experience sharing, collaboration among countries, and development of regional epidemiology networks.
The event also underscored the many opportunities that the Field Epidemiology Training Programme for Veterinarians (FETPV) brings to trainees from participating countries. CVOs and chief epidemiologists attending the meeting agreed that the FETPV is highly valued in the countries where it has been launched and that it merits major financial support from donors. FETPV, which is supported by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention based in Atlanta, USA, enables selected individuals to receive training and implement a study/project under a mentor while maintaining employment with their units or institutions. Participants concurred on the long-lasting benefits of such training, and on the professional depths garnered within national institutions.
The Programme corresponds to the FAO-ECTAD vision of moving from short-term courses to longer-term, sustainable sub-national efforts in the promotion of epidemiology, and over time, to strengthen veterinary services to prevent and control health threats, and improve production efficacy and efficiency (when associated with producer groups).
FAO, along with its partners, will continue to support member countries in implementing national and regional strategies for developing capacity in veterinary epidemiology through systematic training programmes according to identified national needs.