Kick-off meeting for the INDOPACOM Wildlife Surveillance Project
supports need for ‘One Health’ approach.
Ha Noi, October 8, 2019: 40 representatives from Vietnamese government agencies and both international and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) joined the inaugural meeting for the INDOPACOM (Indo-Pacific Command) Wildlife Surveillance Project - co-implemented by Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Department of Animal Health (DAH), Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development (MARD) from 2019-2021, with the support of the US Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) - Biological Threat Reduction Program. Representatives of DAH, MARD; CITES MA, VN Forest, National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, Ministry of Health (MoH); Regional Animal Health Office No. VI; Forest Protection Department Zone IV; Provincial Forest Protection Department (FPD) and Sub-DAH in Dong Nai, Binh Phuoc, Nghe An, Dak Nong and Dak Lak provinces, and representatives from national parks and conservation organizations, brought to the table their insights and experience to build a picture of the current animal health surveillance and wildlife health management systems in Viet Nam —from central to local, livestock to wildlife, governmental agencies to NGOs.
During the meeting, several gaps in the wildlife health management system were identified, including no guidance/legislation on collaboration between FPD and the animal health workforce, absence of specific requirements about certifications related to wildlife health and diseases for wildlife farms, insufficient capacity to detect unusual wildlife health events in a timely manner, and limited routine monitoring of specific priority pathogens in wildlife. Participants also discussed potential inter-agency collaboration to resolve highlighted gaps— an essential next step to the meeting —including how to promote and integrate the wildlife health-related activities into the current disease monitoring system, and how relevant functional agencies can contribute to help and work together to establish a national system.
Dr. Nguyen Van Long, Deputy Director General of the Department of Animal Health, MARD shared: “Viet Nam shares the global concern regarding the wildlife health-related disease monitoring system at national level. We also recognize the risks of emerging diseases as Viet Nam has prevalent human - wildlife interaction due to geographical, biological, sociological and cultural traits. Given that context, the INDOPACOM project will help promote the incorporation of wildlife disease into the national animal health monitoring systems to identify and address disease threats to wildlife, livestock, and human populations.”
Nearly three quarters of all new, emerging, or re-emerging diseases affecting humans originated in animals, and the majority of these arises from wild species. These diseases present serious public health, economic, and development concerns, especially for countries that have limited capacity for rapid response. They can also have devastating impacts on wildlife populations and livestock production. Despite increasing recognition of the importance of wildlife health monitoring as a critical component of national zoonotic disease surveillance systems, the capacity to detect and prevent pathogen spill-over and respond to disease outbreaks involving wildlife is still limited in Viet Nam and worldwide.
To address that limitation in Viet Nam, the project aims to build capacity within Viet Namese government agencies and institutions to develop an effective national wildlife health surveillance network. The increased national capacity for wildlife disease surveillance and response achieved through this initiative will support the government to implement legally binding International Health Regulations (IHR), combat the threat of emerging infectious diseases to public health, protect biodiversity, and support regional development and stability.
Ms. Hoang Bich Thuy, Country Director of WCS Viet Nam Program, shared: “We aim for the final surveillance system to be realistic for implementation, meet the different needs and risks that exist in various wildlife-human interface and maximize the utilization of current animal health surveillance systems. The wildlife health surveillance system needs to be co-developed by animal health, public health, wildlife management agencies and wildlife conservation groups. Only through harmonious coordination and cooperation can we optimize the linkages among surveillance systems generated and owned by each sector under the One Health concept.”