The recommendations presented below are drawn from the Working Group discussions and the final discussion session of the workshop.
National agencies have the primary responsibility for responding to disease emergencies, regional cooperation can provide essential support. Existing regional cooperation in aquatic animal disease control in Asia should be further strengthened to support national efforts to control serious aquatic animal disease outbreaks in the region.
Regional reporting and communications, the NACA/FAO/OIE Regional Quarterly Aquatic Animal Disease Reporting System, should be further strengthened to ensure increased sharing of information on national aquatic animal disease status and emerging aquatic animal diseases of significance to Asia. The regional list of aquatic animal diseases should continue to be used as a basis for supporting emergency disease response and preparedness for disease emergencies in the region. Communication between fishery and veterinary authorities should be strengthened so that Asia's regional concerns can be more effectively communicated to OIE. Collaboration and communication among countries should be promoted to influence international standard setting and disease notification.
Regional technical support and existing technical support mechanisms (e.g. the Regional Advisory Group, regional resource centres) should be used to provide expert teams and information to countries to assist in responding quickly to disease problems. Further development of the regional technical support mechanisms under the NACA umbrella is recommended to support harmonization in diagnostics among countries and the upgrading of skills. Collaborative research should be encouraged to understand and respond to significant and emerging diseases in the region.
Early warning and early response
Effective implementation of early warning and early response system at the national level requires participation of personnel at three levels: the producers, the disease support center and the decision-making level. Important recommendations for each of thse levels include:
At the decision-making level, (i) to continuously build awareness; (ii) to support development of practical surveillance systems with the flexibility to use different existing resources (e.g. those of the private sector and the livestock sector); (iii) conducting risk assessments on likely problems; (iv) to provide better description of emergency situations and “triggering”events; (v) to use systems analysis to provide clear descriptions of lines of authority, mandates and activities tuned to local conditions; and (vi) to develop mechanisms for financing.
More work on human resource development is needed. Many training courses have been conducted in the region; however, technical training alone is not seen as sufficient. For example, specific training is needed on how to report scientific information for the purpose of early warning and early response.
The region needs more needs-based, applied research. Research to support early warning should especially be targeted to three areas: pathology, microbiology (parasitology, virology, bacteriology, mycology) and epidemiology (including forecasting, risk assessment and assessment of the accuracy of Level 1 diagnosis). Collaborative research should be encouraged to understand and respond to significant and emerging diseases in the region.
The region needs resources to draw on in emergencies. Core funding should be allocated to regional organizations (e.g. NACA) to provide ready resources to respond rapidly to emergencies. For the less developed countries in the region (e.g. Cambodia, Laos, Bangladesh), lack of adequate human, institutional and financial resources is still the major constraint and thus training, capacity building and better infrastructure are urgently needed.
The profile of fish health and emergency preparedness needs to be raised to both the public and private sectors, highlighting the importance of emergencies from a socio-economic point of view. The role of “larger players”(geopolitical and supranational organizations and donor agencies) in addressing these issues needs to be strengthened.
Although there is a lot of knowledge about aquatic animal health in the world, the transfer of this knowledge to the Asian Region requires financial resources. Developed countries should invest on this issue because such knowledge is essential for the development of emergency preparedness systems.
Once countries have developed disease emergency contingency plans, staging field exercises for a simulated national disease emergency should be undertaken, as this will allow countries to test their contingency plans and see how their communication system works. Mock outbreaks (simulations) should be done at both the national and regional levels. These should involve various stakeholders such as the military, justice, finance, environment, agriculture etc.
Socio-economic impacts of disease epizootics
The investment of governments and the private sector in emergency preparedness and in aquatic animal health, in general, does not reflect the importance and value of the aquaculture and fisheries resource. A desk study of the value of the aquatic resources in the different countries should be conducted, including an assessment of the magnitude of investment in the sector and the impact of disease. Such a study could be funded and undertaken by FAO and NACA.
Koi herpes virus outbreaks
Recent experience has shown that the systems in place in Indonesia and Japan to cope with disease emergencies were not effective against KHV infection. Detailed post-mortem analyses of the outbreaks of KHV in both countries should be conducted to determine why the respective governments were unable to contain the disease, the actions taken by government and private sector, the extent of their success. and the lessons learned.
It may be useful to have another workshop in a few years time to assess the progress made in Japan in establishing a system for early warning and preparedness.
Pilot projects on emerging diseases
Several emerging diseases are present in the region, and countries whose industries culture susceptible species should put in place some practical approaches. Pilot activities for key diseases such as abalone mortality, white tail disease etc. could be initiated by selecting a country to pilot a system for each disease. Each pilot system could involve people from the various countries most likely to be impacted by the disease and maybe also have people to visit different countries.