FAO and USAID support the Lao People's Democratic Republic to tackle emerging zoonotic diseases


The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations through the Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (FAO ECTAD), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Government of Lao PDR launched the Global Health Security Programme (GHSP).  The four-year project aims to help the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry's Department of Livestock and Fisheries (DLF) in prevention, early detection, preparedness, and response to zoonotic diseases to pre-empt the emergence and mitigate the impact of these threats. GHSP will strengthen animal health capacity and improve government policy by providing technical assistance on disease surveillance, laboratory diagnostics, outbreak reporting and investigation, good farming practices, and preparedness and response through the One Health approach, in which multiple sectors work together to achieve better public health outcomes.

U.S. Ambassador to Lao PDR, Dr. Peter M. Haymond emphasized the past and current commitment of the United States to the Lao PDR under the U.S.- Lao Comprehensive Partnership.  “The U.S. is proud and committed to partnering with the Government of Laos to protect the well-being of the people of Laos,” said Ambassador Haymond.  “This year, we mark the 5th anniversary of the U.S- Laos Comprehensive Partnership, and this program reaffirms our commitment under the Partnership.”

FAO Representative to Lao PDR, Mr. Nasar Hayat, expressed optimism that sharing experiences and lessons learned would better implement the GHSP Project. "Together, using the One Health approach, we will ensure we further enhance the skills on how to combat zoonotic and emerging livestock diseases. FAO values the long-standing support from the U.S. Government and USAID in this important work," Mr. Nasar Hayat said.  He also stressed the importance of early detection of animal and human health threats, especially in the current COVID-19 pandemic environment. 

The GHSP project supports the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA), a global initiative to keep the world safe from infectious disease threats in which Lao PDR and 70 other countries are working to accelerate political and multi-sectoral support for health security preparedness.  It builds on a long history and successful collaboration between FAO, USAID, and the Government of Lao PDR. From 2014 through 2021 FAO with support from USAID implemented the Emerging Pandemic Threats 2 (EPT-2) project which contributed to the significant reduction of the bird flu outbreaks in Lao PDR. This collaboration continues and is now expanding to other zoonoses (e.g. swine flu, rabies, anthrax) and antimicrobial resistance.

The COVID-19 pandemic proves how infectious disease outbreaks can have devastating health, economic, political, and social consequences worldwide.  Many of the pandemic threats are associated with “zoonotic diseases” or “zoonoses” – diseases that can spread between animals and humans. Three out of every four new and emerging infectious diseases in people come from animals. This means that continuous attention to animal-origin diseases remains a priority to governments worldwide, including Lao PDR.