August 29-31, Paro: Sixty-nine participants from Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Japan, DPR Korea, Lao PDR, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand and Vietnam gathered for the Asia-Pacific Workshop on zoonotic influenza. They discussed issues and way forward for better surveillance, prevention and control of zoonotic influenza.
According to a spokesperson, the ongoing outbreaks of avian influenza are having an impact on public health, trade and economy of the several Asia-Pacific countries. Various subtypes of avian influenza including H5N1, H5N6, H9N2 and H7N9 are found in the region with zoonotic influenza describing the types that are transmissible from infected animals to humans.
The influenza, if it becomes pandemic, is risky to both human and animal health. Therefore, experts from 13 countries are involved in prevention and controls of avian influenza including representatives from the WHO (World Health Organisation), FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations) and OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health) among others through One Health approach.
According to OIE, the One Health approach focuses on the notion that human and animal health are interdependent and bound to the health of the ecosystems in which they exist. FAO states that One Health is increasingly recognised as a cost-effective way to deal with emerging diseases at the human-animal-ecosystems interface.
An update on the situation and scientific information of zoonotic influenza viruses at global, regional and country levels were presented during the workshop. Participants also shared knowledge and experiences and made recommendations on influenza surveillance, prevention and control across the region. The workshop served as a platform to discuss the need for more adequate coordination mechanisms given that emerging diseases in humans of animal origins are best addressed through multi-disciplinary and multi-sectoral approaches. A field visit to the National Centre for Animal Health and Public Health were also organised for participants.
The Hon’ble Lyonpo for Agriculture and Forests, Yeshey Dorji inaugurated the workshop. Lyonpo in his speech stressed on the need for a collaborative approach to control the emerging diseases. He shared that Bhutan has joined other nations in using the ‘One Health’ concept as a core strategic tool ad guiding principle to prepare against the zoonotic influenza.
WHO and OIE jointly in collaboration with the Department of Livestock organised the workshop.
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