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Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Disease (ECTAD) - Viet Nam

17th EPI-LABNET Meeting: Continuous Improvement Through Collaboration


09/05/2019, Da Nang, Viet Nam. A close and effective collaboration between the two disciplines of epidemiology and laboratory is an important foundation for disease surveillance, disease prevention and capacity development. Annual meetings of the Network of Epidemiology and Laboratory (Epi-Labnet) working group play an important role in making sure such collaboration is firmly built and maintained to support disease surveillance in animals.

With the financial assistance from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Department of Animal Health (DAH) and the UN-FAO Viet Nam Emergency Center for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD) again worked together to organize the 17th Epi-Labnet meeting on 9-10 May, 2019 in Da Nang. The event welcomed 35 laboratory and epidemiology experts from DAH, National Centre for Veterinary Diagnostics (NCVD), seven Regional Animal Health Offices (RAHOs), academia, USAID and FAO.

During the meeting, updates on key animal diseases in the period 2018-2019 including Avian Influenza (AI), African Swine Fever (ASF), and Foot and Mouth disease (FMD) as well as identified gaps in existing programs and protocols were shared among the participants.

The discussion on AI emphasized the need to pay close attention to low pathogenic AI H9 to prevent negative impacts on economic loss. Gaps in surveillance program including planning/ designing, sampling, laboratory testing and follow up investigation were also discussed among the participants.

Regarding ASF, RAHO VI (Ho Chi Minh city) presented the gene sequencing results of the first three outbreaks in Vietnam (Thai Binh, Hung Yen and Thanh Hoa provinces). FAO experts proposed updates on ASF investigation protocol, which was well received by the participants. The discussion also shed light on a number of issues within the existing protocol, such as the lack of harmonization among the protocols of RAHOs; the need for improvement in the protocol on sampling time and pooling samples; and the acknowledgement of rapid testing validity.

The meeting shared the results from the technical exchanges on molecular epidemiology of FMD among Viet Nam, Lao PDR and Cambodia. One of the important suggestions made by FAO expert, among others, was to conduct the vaccine-matching test to assess the efficiency of the vaccine currently in use.
Other valuable information and knowledge was also presented at the meeting, including: updates on aquaculture diseases, the introduction of an online tool called OPTIMIA to evaluate the effectiveness of AI surveillance strategies and laboratory quality management.

The meeting successfully concluded with specific tasks proposed to be implemented by DAH epidemiology and laboratory task forces. Epi-Labnet annual meetings are crucial in facilitating the capacity building for DAH and strengthening the network within DAH as well as among DAH and other relevant scientific institutions.