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Regional animal health experts call for improved disease control

11/07/2016Animal health officials from the five upper Mekong countries have reaffirmed their commitment to work together to improve trans-boundary animal disease control in the region. They also plan to do more to ensure the safe trade of animal products amongst the five countries, according to a statement from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). The plans were outlined during the 2nd Meeting on Collaboration to Address Trans-boundary Animal Diseases in the Upper Mekong Sub-Region, held in vientiane fom June27-30. "From the first meeting, a set of recommendations and concrete actions to be taken by the parties was drawn up.These require follow-up to ensure they have been properly implemented and that guidance on improved collaboration to further promote safe trade is given," said Deputy Minister of agriculture and Forestry Dr Bounkhouang Khambounheuang. "In the border areas of Laos,China, Vietnam and Myanmar,high-impact diseases such as highly pathogenicavian influenza,foot and mouth disease, and porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome are threatening the food security and economic potential of millions of people, while a few of these diseases also pose threats to public health," said Regional Manager of the UNFAO Emergency animal Diseases, DR Wnatanee Kalpravidh. "Infections diseases know no boundries. The projected acceleration of population growth,surging demand for animal protein, and an increasingly interconnected region under the Asean Economic Community will further drive the movement of animal and human diseases across borders in the coming years," said the Acting Laos Office Director for USAID Aaron Schubert. Mr Schubert said USAID is pleased to continue its longstanding partnership with governments across the region to enhance capabilities to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease threats, including those of animal origin that threaten not only public health, but also economic and social stability. Over the past decade, UNFAO and USAID have invested over US$37 million to improve the capacities of Upper Mekong countries for prevention and control of animal diseases. "In the border areas of Laos,high-impact diseases such as highly pathogenic avian influenza, foot and mouth disease, and porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome are threatening the food security, economic potential and public health of millions of people,"said UNFAO Representative to Laos Dr Stephen Rudgard. In Laos, UNFAO works closely with Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry's Department of Livestock and Fisheries to upgrade laboratories, train animal health workers,develop strategies, implement international standards, and support the adoption of sound policies on animal and human health. During the meeting,national representatives discussed strategies to collaboratively reduce trans-boundary animal disease risks. They also visited a quarantine station at the Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge to see first-hand the logistics involved in cross-border livestock movement.