The movement of farm animals from one place to another is considered by many as both a blessing and a curse. Yes, the economy flourishes and becomes more dynamic with the constant movement of farm animals, but along with it comes the dreaded TADs that could be a threat to public health.
TADs stands for transboundary animal diseases, those epidemic diseases which are highly contagious or transmissible and, as stated by the FAO, have the potential for very rapid spread irrespective of national borders, causing serious socio economic and possible public health consequences. Think avian flu, foot and mouth disease and Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) and we’ve covered pretty much the major animal diseases which can be transmitted to humans.
Controlling the spread, managing economic impacts
Recently, 14 veterinarians from six countries came to Manila, Philippines and shared their knowledge, experiences and research findings on the control and management of TADs in the region. FFTC, together with the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquaculture and Natural Resources (PCAARRD) and Taiwan’s Animal Health Research Institute (AHRI) organized a two-day workshop on “Management and Control of Important TADs in the Asian Pacific Region” with the aim of disseminating recent information, technologies and systems that hopefully could encourage political support for multi-sectoral approaches in monitoring and management of TADs.
Most of the speakers talked about the “One Health Approach” in dealing with TADs—the interaction between human health, medicine and public environmental health professionals, clinicians, researchers, agencies, the government and the private sector. People from OIE (Oficina International de Epizootias or World Organization for Animal Health) talked about their mandates and strategies in surveillance and control of animal diseases in the region.
Animal movement patterns, etc.
Another topic that was discussed lengthily during the workshop was the animal movement patterns, which according to the speakers, are considered as significant risk parameters in the spread of FMD and other animal diseases.
The complex systems of food production, processing and marketing in many developing countries are also mentioned as one of the key factors in the spread of TADs. Thai veterinarian Dr. Thanawat Tiensin, said that in many urban areas as large quantities of food pass through a multitude of food handlers and middlemen, the risk of exposing food to unhygienic environments, contamination and adulteration increases.
The discussions on the issues regarding animal health diseases led to the following recommendations, which the participants think should be sent out to policymakers and all those involved in the animal industry in the region:
(1) Combine traditional and unconventional forms of media to exchange information on TADs to veterinarians and public health workers in the region especially on the sharing of best practices;
(2) Disseminate OIE codes and manuals to strengthen surveillance and control of animal diseases in the region and help facilitate safe international trade of animal and animal products;
(3) Expand knowledge of local authorities on rapid diagnosis of animal diseases, animal movement pathways, as well as the role that vaccination plays in the management and control of TADs;
(4) Establish a strong collaboration among animal health agencies through more training programs in order to create synergism, increase the chance of success to control TADs and promote efficiency in the utilization of resources;
(5) Encourage each country to formulate policies on animal surveillance and data and laboratory analyses on TADs;
(6) Establish a monitoring system for the movement of animal genetic materials;
(7) Invest in veterinary services as part of the regional coordination mechanism between and among countries. Invite all relevant stakeholders including OIE and FAO for joint cooperation projects;
(8) Consider tying up with universities in the region which offer veterinary science courses so that students can be included and trained early on disease diagnosis and laboratory work;
(9) Conduct consultation services with farmers to increase their level of awareness on the management and control of TADs in the region; and
(10) Conduct training on establishing databases for animal profiling.
FFTC Director Dr. Yu-Tsai Huang delivers the welcome remarks during the opening ceremony of the TADs Manila workshop. He mentioned the importance of animal surveillance and risk analysis as concrete ways to control the spread of TADs during his brief talk.
Dr. Yeou-Liang Lin, Assistant Researcher of the Animal Health Research Institute (AHRI) and science consultant of this workshop, delivers the welcome remarks of his superior, Dr. Jane Tu during the opening ceremonies of the workshop. Aside from PCAARRD, AHRI is one of the partners of FFTC in this workshop.
Workshop participants visit the Regional Institute for Tropical Medicine in Alabang, Muntinglupa, Philippines where they get actual exposure to laboratory operations for animal diseases.
Dr. Reynaldo Ebora, Executive Director of PCAARRD delivers his opening message to the workshop participants. He emphasized the role that livestock production plays in the economic development of countries and the need to gather information on the management and control of TADs.
There were 14 speakers from 6 countries and 17 local participants in the recently concluded FFTC-PCAARRD joint international workshop on “Management and Control of Important Transboundary Animal Diseases in the Asian Pacific Region” held in Manila, Philippines.