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China and UN Boost Ties on Disease Control

14 March 2013

CHINA - China and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations have stepped up their cooperation in animal disease control and detection, the FAO representative to China, Percy Misika, told China Daily in an exclusive interview.

Mr Misika said that after more than 30 years of cooperating with the FAO, China is now more capable of detecting animal influenza early and can contribute more to anti-animal influenza efforts both in the region and around the world.

FAO in early March designated the Animal Influenza Laboratory of the Harbin Veterinary Research Institute the first reference center for animal influenza in China.

The FAO officially recognized the laboratory because of the lab's contribution to the implementation of FAO's program priorities.

If the center identifies a new epidemic in China, it can alert other countries more efficiently before a mass outbreak occurs, and that can avoid huge property losses and save more livestock and even human lives, Mr Misika said.

"If a local laboratory is not sure whether a diagnosis (of the animal) is true or not, it will need a second opinion from another laboratory that has higher technical expertise and a higher level of bio-technology. This center will play that role," he added.

FAO designates reference centers in the field of animal health, and these cover disciplines such as veterinary epidemiology, laboratory bio-security and 12 animal diseases, including those shared by human beings.

China is the 10th country to have an FAO reference center, and the second one to have a reference center focusing on animal influenza research.

FAO and China already have a history of cooperation.

In 2006, FAO established the Emergency Center for Trans-boundary Animal Diseases China Office in China and initiated a project with the Ministry of Agriculture on highly pathogenic avian influenza.

Capacity for disease surveillance and emergency response for both national and provincial governments has been enhanced by this work. The designation of the FAO Reference Center for animal influenza in China reflects that the collaboration between China and the FAO now enters a new stage, said Misika.

The FAO and China have also enhanced the capacity for veterinary epidemiology through the implementation of the China Field Epidemiology Training Program for Veterinarians.

The FAO ECTAD also works with China to improve collaboration on transboundary animal diseases among China and neighboring countries, including Mongolia, Russia, Viet Nam and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

TheFishSite News Desk

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