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IVM Network Aims to Sustainably Fight Avian Influenza in Indonesia

IVM Network participants discuss IVM Online sustainability in efforts to fight avian influenza

 – Almost five years after its launch, IVM Online, the Influenza Virus Monitoring network and its associated online platform continue to thrive in tracking the evolution of influenza viruses in Indonesia and recommending effective actions to key stakeholders. Members of the IVM Network, comprised of Disease Investigation Centers (DICs) under the Directorate General of Livestock and Animal Health Services, Ministry of Agriculture (DGLAHS-MoA) gathered in a stakeholder meeting, supported by FAO and USAID, to discuss IVM Online sustainability strategies.

Drh. Boethdy Angkasa, representing the DGLAHS-MoA opened the meeting by highlighting the necessary expansion to be taken by the IVM Network. “We should start to monitor low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) too, besides the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) viruses. LPAI has been affecting farmers’ flocks and there could possibly be some risk to humans from this virus, which is still being investigated,” he said while advocating closer data linkage between IVM and iSIKHNAS, another online platform managed by the Ministry to monitor animal health across the country.

As the meeting invited representatives from the private sector and universities, as well as Government Drh. Nining Hartaningsih, FAO ECTAD Senior National Technical Advisor emphasized that, “Avian Influenza (AI) is not only a threat to animals, but a threat to every one of us.” It is not only a government responsibility to control AI but also the responsibility of each one of us”

Four major veterinary pharmaceutical companies, PT Medion, PT Vaksindo, PT Sanbio and PT Caprifarmindo joined the discussion along with representatives of leading veterinary schools, Airlangga University, Udayana University, Gadjah Mada University and Bogor Agricultural Institute (IPB). Experts from the Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL), the software developer UrRemote, the Animal Health Expert Commission and the Animal Drugs Commission were also involved in the meeting. Private sector and university participation is considered a key strategy to strengthen the sustainability of the IVM Network in fighting avian influenza. The MoA also expressed their commitment to using the national budget to support the IVM Network in the coming years.

Globally, avian influenza viruses continue to evolve and change their genetic and antigenic characteristics. A report presented at the IVM meeting flagged the emergence and spread of H5N6 and H5N8 viruses, as well as H7N9 in China, whose spread was controlled through the introduction of poultry vaccination in 2018. This should be a reminder to other countries in the region to stay alert for emerging influenza viruses.

In Indonesia, an estimated 16.2 million poultry died and 168 people died from H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza from 2003 to 2014. The human and economic losses drove the government to take strategic prevention and control measures, one of them is IVM Online. Through the IVM Online platform, a national strategy to monitor the evolving virus, update vaccine challenge strains and match locally produced poultry AI vaccine to circulating strains has proven successful in significantly reducing HPAI cases.