FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

FAO names first reference centre for animal influenza in Asia

Harbin Veterinary Research Institute receives the FAO designation

07/03/2013 Bangkok, Thailand

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations announced today that earlier this week it designated the Harbin Veterinary Research Institute (HVRI), in the Heilongjiang Province of the People’s Republic of China (PR China), as the FAO reference centre for animal influenza. The designation of FAO reference status, awarded by the FAO Director General, is based on a competitive selection and evaluation process. It is an outcome of many years of collaboration between FAO and HVRI and signifies FAO’s recognition of the technical expertise and high quality of science at the Institute.

“This brings the collaboration and cooperation between China and FAO to a higher level,” said Dr. Yu Kangzhen, the Chief Veterinary Officer of China.

This is the first FAO reference centre in China and the first FAO reference centre for animal influenza in Asia.

HVRI, a cutting edge veterinary research institute of the Chinese Academy of Agriculture Sciences, has produced a number of high quality diagnostics and vaccines against influenza viruses.  Vaccines currently developed and produced at the Institute are used in China and Southeast Asia to control highly pathogenic avian influenza, the disease that has resulted in the loss of more than 400 million birds and the deaths of some 500  people..

“The designation of HVRI as a reference centre for animal influenza brings additional regional and international responsibility in supporting disease surveillance programmes, enhancing diagnostic capacity in the region and participating in global influenza networks,” said Dr. Juan Lubroth, FAO’s Chief Veterinary Officer.

Mr. Hiroyuki Konuma, Assistant Director General of FAO’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, referring to increasing collaboration between FAO and PR China’s Ministry of Agriculture in avian influenza and the other high impact transboundary animal diseases, said, “The technical expertise and quality of science produced in the HVRI can contribute significantly towards supporting food security, nutrition and food safety, and enhancing livelihoods of poor farming communities through the improved control of animal diseases in the Asia-Pacific Region.” He also thanked and acknowledged the important role of the Government of China in promoting South-South collaboration and said he expected that this would further strengthen this initiative on animal health. 

Dr. Yu recognized the important role of the FAO’s Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD) that was established in China in 2006. ECTAD has conducted the Field Epidemiology Training Program for Veterinarians (China FETPV) to further promote the concept of One Health. Under the FAO-China collaborative framework, China is playing a leading role in strengthening its sub-regional cooperation on animal disease control with neighbouring countries, including Viet Nam, Mongolia and Russia.

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