A three-day workshop is being held in Paro

Workshop: The ongoing outbreaks of avian influenza are having an impact on public health, trade and economy of the several Asia-Pacific countries. Representatives from these countries are currently gathered for a workshop in Paro.

Participants are discussing issues, challenges and way forward for better surveillance, prevention and control of zoonotic influenza.

Various subtypes of avian influenza including H5N1, H5N6, H9N2, H7N9 are found in the region with zoonotic influenza describing the types that are transmissible from infected animals to humans.

Senior government officials from 13 countries are involved in prevention and control of avian influenza including representatives from the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE); and development partners as well as experts from academic and research institutes are attending the workshop. The goal is to strengthen surveillance, and prevent and control zoonotic influenza using the One Health approach.

According to the 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. According to FAO, One Health is increasingly recognised as a cost-effective way to deal with emerging diseases at the human-animal-ecosystems interface.

“Bhutan has been at the forefront in the way it deals with outbreaks of avian influenza (H5N1) and it has developed a One Health strategy and action plan to deal with emerging threats at the human-animal-ecosystems interface,” said WHO’s representative for Bhutan, Dr Ornella Lincetto.

An update on the situation and scientific information of zoonotic influenza viruses at global, regional and country levels were presented during the workshop. Experts and participants also shared knowledge and experiences and made recommendations on influenza surveillance, prevention and control across the region.

The workshop has also provided a regional platform for focused discussion of the topic by leading experts and policy makers on 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 total of 69 participants from Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Japan, DPR Korea (North Korea), Lao PDR, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand and Vietnam, attend the workshop.

The three-day workshop ends today.

Staff reporter