Better disease prevention is the answer
Avian influenza is not the first transboundary animal disease to wreak havoc and it won't be the last. How can countries be better prepared, react faster and stop disease in its tracks?
Donors with a vision of helping in the long term could consider supporting the creation of strong regional networks for information exchange and analysis based on rigorous disease surveillance. FAO has already launched such networks in Asia but needs more resources to continue. Contingency planning for animal disease outbreak is critical: one reason that Japan, Malaysia and South Korea brought their avian flu outbreaks quickly under control was because they had detailed contingency plans ready to roll at the first sign of the disease.
"We haven't done any contingency planning yet for the next time," admits Dr Tri Satya Putri Naipospos, Director of Animal Health for Indonesia. "That involves a lot of money. And it has to be done in cooperation with industry. To get their attention we would first have to do a big public awareness campaign on the advantages of being prepared."
FAO's Emergency Prevention System for Transboundary Animal and Plant Pests and Diseases was created in 1994 to help countries like Indonesia with the technical assistance, tools and funding to prevent disease outbreaks getting out of control.
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