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Speech by Mr Andrew Speedy, FAO Representative in Viet Nam at the Meeting to Review the Strategy for Control and Prevention of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in the Agriculture Sector

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Date: Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Meeting to Review the Strategy for Control and Prevention of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in the Agriculture Sector, Hanoi, Viet Nam
Speaker: Andrew Speedy, FAO Representative in Viet Nam

Your Excellency Vice Minister Dr Bui Ba Bong,
Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good Morning.
Nearly five years on in the campaign against avian influenza in Viet Nam, we may claim some success and good progress - but at a cost. There has been a tremendous effort by the Government in the fight against HPAI.  There has been a huge investment – in financial and human capital – put into building of capacity especially in the veterinary services.  Many people - in animal health, livestock production, research and extension - at central, provincial and local level - have grown in stature and made enormous strides in disease surveillance, vaccination, disinfection, biosecurity, movement control and risk communication. There has been success in keeping the disease at a low level, few human cases and no pandemic. This is the reward for your efforts. But it has been expensive and people are tired.

Today we will be reviewing the strategy for control and prevention of HPAI in the agriculture sector, looking at the past - thinking - and planning ahead, not only in terms of activities and approaches, but also in terms of the budget for the coming year and beyond.  We need to review the Integrated National Operational Program for Avian and Human Influenza (OPI) 2006-2010 known as “the Green Book”, to plan ahead for the next five years beyond 2010.   There is still work to be done. This meeting is an opportunity for us to discuss the important steps we need to take when we talk about “the transitional phase”.  A key issue is vaccination.

The Government is considering the possibility of moving from a fully public funded mass vaccination campaign to a public-private funded vaccination campaign in key targeted areas.  Public-private cost sharing will not only enable the governments at the central, provincial and district levels to have some budgetary reserves for supporting other key disease prevention and control interventions,  but is also likely to bring about a sense of ownership and therefore stronger participation in the vaccination policy by all those involved in the poultry business.
The transition will not be easy. 

The move has to be very carefully considered.  We must ensure that the disease does not flare up again and that there is no risk to human health. The future strategy needs to be carefully designed.  It must be based on good science and realistic consideration of the risks.

One year ago, the message was that the disease was under control but still present throughout the country. There was a need to stay firm. Vaccination would need to continue for five years or more.  We see continued good control and few outbreaks throughout the country. We must consider changing the strategy with caution.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

What we are hoping to discuss in the next day and a half is a sustainable HPAI prevention and control strategy that would enable Viet Nam to continue to limit the outbreaks in poultry and minimize the likelihood of human infection.

We need to work together. Even closer collaboration of the different departments and centres is needed.

There is also a need to build on the success and on the human resource that has developed to address other emerging and re-emerging animal diseases with high economic and likely health implications like porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS).

I want to thank the Government of Viet Nam, particularly the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) and the Partnership on Avian and Human Influenza (PAHI) for organizing; and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for supporting this very important meeting.

I wish you all good health and a successful meeting. 

Thank you