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FAO’s Asia-Pacific Emergency Centre For Transboundary Animal Diseases: 5 Year Plan For Next Wave Of Zoonotic Diseases

14/05/2021 Bangkok, Thailand – As the
SARS-CoV-2 Pandemic continues to claim lives, ruin the
health and livelihoods of millions across the Asia-Pacific
region, particularly in South Asia at present, a team of
veterinary scientists, epidemiologists, sociologists and
other One Health experts is beginning a two week session to
map out a five year plan on how to predict, prevent and –
if necessary – combat the next animal-to-human potential

The multi-disciplinary team at FAO’s
Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD)
is convening a series of meetings, beginning today, to plan
out the next five years of its programme in Asia and the
Pacific. ECTAD is FAO’s corporate centre for planning and
delivery of veterinary assistance to its member countries
responding to the threat of animal
crises. This is the 15th Annual ECTAD Regional
Meeting, and this year – with COVID-19 still spreading –
it has attracted some 80 specialists from countries

Transboundary animal diseases are still the
primary source of most infectious diseases and pandemics
afflicting humans. Transboundary animal diseases (TADs) have
negative impacts on food safety, the economy, and the
environment of countries.

“With about 75 percent of
diseases affecting humans having
animal origins
, addressing Transboundary Animal Disease
(TADs) is evidently an imperative, as we have seen with
outbreaks such as COVID-19, Ebola and many others,” said
Kachen Wongsathapornchai, FAO Senior Animal Health Officer
and ECTAD Regional Manager.

Twenty-five years of
knowledge in zoonotic diseases

In 2003, something
generically referred to as ‘Bird Flu’ made headlines
around the world. Avian Influenza H5N1 was a wake-up call to
human and veterinary healthcare workers worldwide.

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
(FAO) responded by opening its first ECTAD regional office
in Bangkok. Since then, it has worked with country teams in
Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Lao
People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Nepal and Viet Nam.
The technical work is also backstopped by experts at FAO
headquarters in Rome and partnerships globally with the
World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the World
Health Organization (WHO), among

Strengthening animal laboratories prepared
Asia for pandemic

FAO is a recognized centre for
excellence for its efforts on addressing zoonotic diseases
such as Ebola virus
and avian
. Resource partners, government counterparts
and other partners have been working with FAO on
strengthening laboratories across the Asia-Pacific

Since the highly pathogenic avian influenza
(HPAI) H5N1 outbreaks in 2003, FAO has been working with
countries to strengthen their capacities. This proved to be
instrumental in the pandemic as animal
diagnostic laboratories supported public health
in the testing of COVID-19 human samples.

FAO through
its ECTAD Programme has also built capacities at all levels
for better information sharing and coordination of animal
health programmes including addressing antimicrobial
(AMR) in the region

A “One Health”
approach to addressing TAD

FAO envisages One Health
as a collaborative global approach to understanding risks
for human and animal health. This includes strengthening
monitoring, surveillance, reporting and response tools to
addressing risk factors leading to disease spill-overs from
wildlife to domestic animals and humans. This holistic
approach emphasizes the need to also seriously consider
socio-economic and cultural factors to enable better disease
prevention and control.

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