FAO in Lao People's Democratic Republic

Government, partners unite to improve animal disease control


(Vientiane Times) Vientiane.- Despite the government taking measures to fight against Avian influenza over the past 10 years, the virus remains a challenge for Laos and other nations around the world. To address the issue, the govenment and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), plan to work together to control the disease more effective. To do so, the government, FAO and USAID yesterday launched a four-year project to improve the capacity of Laos to be able to prevent, detect, and respond to animal diseases that could affect livelihoods and spread to humans. The four-year project (2016-2019) aims to improve the country's capabalities to effectively prevent, prepare and respond to high impact emerging zoonotic diseases in animal populations. The project will focus on strenghthening multi-sectoral coordination, understanding disease drivers, improving diagnostic and epidermiology capacity and networks, promoting risk reduction polocies and best practices, and enhancing country's preparedness and response. "Emergence of new diseases in animals- be it in domestic or wildlife species, continuing introducction of high impact pathogens from trade, as well as animal diseases that are rooted here within our own cuntry, have continued to challenge our livestock sector development, and have negatively affected livelihoods, incomes, and the health of our people." The deputy Director General of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry's Department of Livestock and Fisheries (DLF) Dr Sithong Phiphakhavong said. Over the past decade, FAO and USAID has mobilised at least US$ 6 (over 48 billion kip) to support the govenment strengthening the country's capacity to detect diseases quickly, and respond to the detection rapidly. FAO has worked closely with DLF to upgrade its laboratory to meet field staff to be able to identify sick animals and manage them properly, and to develop supporting guidelines, strategies, legislation and policies. "New diseases continue to emerge, and the risks of disease introduction continue to increase," FAO Representative in Laos Mr Stephen Rudgard said. It is thus important that we continue our partnership and collaboration to support the government of Laos to ensure that the country is well equipped with all necessity to combat these emerging pandemic threats." Mr Rudgard highlighted that FAO was committed to assisting Laos in the prevention and control of both old and new threats of animal origins, which ultimately contribute to achieving the country's livestock development goals. In March 2014, avian influenza in poultry in Laos was caused by an emergent influenza A (H5N6) virus. Genetic analysis indicated that the virus had originated from reassortment of infulenza A (H5N1) clade, variant clade 2.3.4, and influenza A (H6N6) viruss that circulate broadly in duck populations in southern and eastern China. Asian lineage infulenza A (H5N1) viruses continue to cause serious disease in poultry and sporadic human infections. This disease was reported in 2004 in poultry in Laos that were infected with clade 1 influenza A (H5N1) virus and subsequently in poultry infected with clade 2.3.4 and 2.3.2 viruses in 2006 and 2008, respectively (2,3). Inter clade reassortant influenza A (H5N1) virus genotypes homologous to viruses circulating in southern China and Vietnam have also been detected, which indicated previous transboundary virus transfers.