April 27, 2010 23:00 PM
By Ahmad Fuad Yahya
JAKARTA, April 27 (Bernama) -- Regional cooperation in the control and eradication of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) will receive a boost when a roadmap to ensure the attainment of HPAI-free ASEAN by 2020 is finalised this year.
The concept and work plan in the development of the roadmap was discussed at the First Technical Working Group Meeting on HPAI Roadmap held at the Asean Secretariat here, the Secretariat said in a statement Tuesday.
The roadmap, which will be finalised for submission to relevant ASEAN sectoral bodies in late 2010, incorporates several progressive phases and approaches based on lessons learned and ongoing initiatives in the broader context of transboundary animal disease control, multi-sectoral cooperation for health, and One World, One Health frameworks.
"The Roadmap would contribute to regional economic integration towards a single market and production base by 2015 with free flow of animal and livestock products as well as alleviating poverty and enhancing food security in the region," said the Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for ASEAN Economic Community, S. Pushpanathan in his welcome remarks.
He described the move as a key Asean contribution to the World Veterinary Day which is annually celebrated on the last Saturday of April," he added.
The two-day meeting was attended by experts from the animal health and public health departments and agencies of ASEAN member states, the private sector and development partners.
Besides ensuring successful control and eradication of HPAI in Asean, the Roadmap is also expected to strengthen the sustainable development of livestock; strengthen regional coordination on animal health and zoonoses.
It will also strengthen multi-sectoral cooperation on health related issues in line with the One World, One Health concept; and, strengthen cooperation and partnership with development partners and donor agencies, he said.
The initiative remains critical as the first outbreak of HPAI H5N1 in ASEAN started in 2003 with no less than 200 million poultry culled leading to economic losses of over USD 10 billion to the region's poultry sector.
At least 330 people contracted the infection in the region, 200 of whom died.
Asean member states and the international community were able to manage and control the outbreak through collective efforts.
Despite the successful elimination of H5N1 from poultry in almost all the 63 countries it infected at the peak of the global outbreak in 2006, the virus still persists in five nations, including two Asean member states, namely Indonesia and Vietnam.
The Asean region, therefore, still faces serious risk, in addition to the concern of cross mutation among other pandemic and deadly viruses, he said.