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Assessment on implementing the inter-ministerial Circular of coordinated prevention and control of zoonotic diseases

12/11/2015

Global experience in prevention and control of H5N1 HPAI (Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza) has shown that the cooperation between the public health and agricultural sector is crucial, and, where successfully applied, results in significant positive benefits. 

In order to mitigate risks from zoonotic diseases and to ensure sustainable and effective coordination and collaboration, mechanism between the human and animal health sector are vitally important and need to be strengthened ultimately minimizing impacts of diseases on animals, people, and national economies.

Ministry of Health (MOH) and Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) issued the Inter-ministerial Circular 16 “Guidelines for coordinated prevention and control of zoonotic diseases” on 15 July 2013. The Circular aims to address gaps in coordination, information sharing and collaboration between the human and animal health sectors in surveillance, risk assessment and response activities at central and local government levels. After two years of , international partners (FAO and WHO) and government counterparts have started to assess implementation,  identify challenges and document lessons learned to date, for improved future One Health success.

An inter-sectoral mission team including communication and technical staff from WHO, FAO, MOH and MARD conducted a joint assessment in Thanh Hoa and Binh Dinh Provinces. The team was able to conduct a number of in-depth interviews with key managers and officials at the Province, District and Commune level in order to gain insights and suggestion for future development of Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) to compliment Circular 16. It is important that:

- Information about Circular 16 reaches Provincial, District, Commune, and Village level animal and public health professionals. The assessment found that most local participants believe Circular 16 is useful during emergency outbreak situations but they do not fully understand the benefits of joint collaboration between the public health sectors for their routine work.

- Currently routine information sharing across sectors happens informally through personal relationships with other professionals.

- Joint outbreak investigation teams remain to be established, and joint investigation is not conducted routinely.

- Public and animal health sectors are unaware of communication plans and activities implemented by their counterparts as result of limited coordination.

- Disease reporting associated with Circular 16 are considered by some colleagues as repetitive with the existing guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health.

FAO and WHO have briefed national and provincial officials on these findings. Both agencies are committed to providing further technical assistance to strengthen Circular 16 implementation in the form of: 1) developing standard operating procedures (SOPs); 2) training workshops; 3) development of joint risk communication plans; 4) reinforcing inter-sectoral outbreak response; and 5) information sharing.