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5ème réunion des coordinateurs nationaux de la campagne OIE/SEAFMD à Bangkok (anglais)

The 5th OIE Southeast Asian Foot and Mouth Disease (SEAFMD) Campaign National Coordinators meeting held in Bangkok from the 6 – 9 of July, 2004, saw the first ASEAN Regional Coordinator take control of the day to day activities of the OIE SEAFMD Regional Co-ordination Unit based in Bangkok.

The National Coordinators from the eight member countries (Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam) warmly welcomed the arrival in Bangkok of Dr Ronello Abila (from Philippines), the first ASEAN national to lead the regional OIE South East Asian Foot and Mouth Disease Campaign (OIE SEAFMD Campaign).

The Vice President of OIE Sub-Commission for FMD in Southeast Asia and SEAFMD National Coordinator from Cambodia, Dr Sen Sovann speaking on behalf of all of the National Coordinators said that the appointment of Dr Ronello Abila (Philippines) was a clear sign that ASEAN is ready to take a leading role in regional animal disease control.

Dr Sovann says the OIE SEAFMD Campaign is the model, which is setting the standards for regional disease control initiatives right around the world and the success of the planned transition of the SEAFMD Campaign from OIE to ASEAN management will influence not only future ASEAN animal disease control programs, it will also act as a model for other regional organisations around the world.

“The National Co-ordinators are looking forward to continuing the close working relationship with Dr Abila and the OIE SEAFMD Campaign and said he believed Dr Abila would continue to build on the successes of the OIE SEAFMD Campaign,” he said.

Dr Sen Sovann said the National Co-ordinators believed the relationships forged amongst animal health experts in the region due to the work of the OIE SEAFMD Campaign were a major achievement. He says this was reinforced at the OIE/FAO Avian Influenza Conference held early this year in Bangkok, where it was suggested the OIE SEAFMD Campaign be used either directly, or as a model for the control of Avian Influenza and other emerging animal diseases in the region.

“We are certain that a man of Dr Abila’s skill and dedication would continue to drive the campaign to a successful conclusion, with FMD eradicated from the region.

“However, there are a number of major challenges facing Dr Abila to ensure the success of the OIE SEAFMD Campaign. These include the full transition to ASEAN responsibility and negotiation of new sources of funding for Phase III of the Campaign in 2006.

“The National Co-ordinators also recognised and appreciated that the Australian Government’s overseas aid program, AusAID has been the major source of funding for the first two Phases of the Campaign and recently extended its funding of Phase II to the end of 2005,” he said.

Dr Sen Sovann and the National Co-ordinators also paid tribute to the previous Regional Co-ordinator, Dr John Edwards who is moving to Perth, Australia to become the Dean of the School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences at Murdoch University.

“Dr Edwards’ contribution has been greatly appreciated by member countries. His patience and advice was always welcomed and his oft said saying ‘if you want a job done get a busy man’, in reality fitted him perfectly, his enthusiasm and energy was endless and he leaves behind many people who are pleased to have called him a good friend and mentor.

Dr Abila says he is pleased that Dr Edwards will continue to be associated with the SEAFMD Campaign as a part time consultant.

Dr Edwards said the new Regional Co-ordinator, Dr Ronello Abila has experience in leading the Philippines successful efforts to eradicate FMD and his more recent role as the Chairman of the ASEAN Secretoral Working Group on Livestock had prepared him for the challenges that face Southeast Asian countries trying to eradicate diseases such as FMD.

“FMD has a significant impact on livestock production and is a major trading barrier and its eradication in the region would assist in poverty alleviation and open up higher value export markets for cloven hoofed animals such as pigs, buffalo and cattle,” he said.

Dr Abila says that he faced a number of challenges in his new role and nominated the need to maintain and possibly increase the current momentum of the campaign; fast track the progressive zoning approach in the MTM zone, and the Upper Mekong and Lower Mekong Zoning Working Groups; and perhaps the most important would be the transition from OIE to ASEAN management for the third phase of the program, which included the establishment of the ASEAN Animal Health Trust Fund..

Editors Note:

The SEAFMD Campaign aims to control and eventually eradicate Foot and Mouth Disease from the South East Asian region and involves eight nations, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Currently Indonesia is the only member of SEAFMD to be recognised by OIE as being free of Foot and Mouth Disease, parts of the Philippines and Malaysia have been recognised as being free of FMD. However in the five other nations the disease is endemic.

The SEAFMD Campaign aims to use zoning techniques coupled with vaccination where necessary to eradicate FMD in South East Asia, and is currently in the second phase of the campaign. The third phase will see prime responsibility for the management of the campaign transferred to ASEAN.

Prior to the commencement of the SEAFMD campaign international co-ordination in trying to eliminating FMD had been minimal, this made controlling and eradicating the disease virtually impossible due to the cross border movement of large numbers of livestock.

The SEAFMD Regional Co-ordination Unit was established in 1997 and delivers programs as agreed by the OIE Sub-Commission for FMD control in Southeast Asia. Activities include working with national animal health authorities on strengthening FMD control, collaborating with other international agencies involved in animal health activities in the region and organising meetings and workshops.

The Australian Government’s overseas aid program, AusAID has been the major source of funding for Phase I & II of the campaign and has recently extended its support for Phase II until the end of 2005. Thailand is the lead ASEAN country for FMD and has generously provided office space and a staff member to the OIE SEAFMD Campaign.

Media: Dr Sen Sovann, Vice President of the OIE Sub-Commission for FMD in Southeast Asia, (885-23) 427590; email: ssovann@forum.org.kh Dr Ronello Abila, OIE SEAFMD Campaign Regional Coordinator (66) 2653 4864, email: ronel @seafmd.org Dr John Edwards: OIE SEAFMD Campaign Regional Coordinator, (66) 2653 4864, (66-9) 5006177 (m), email: edwards@seafmd.org Mr Tom Chesson: OIE SEAFMD Campaign Communications Officer (66) 2653 4864, email: tom@seafmd.org