FAO organized a review meeting on achievements of USAID support program in detection, prevention and containment of HPAI H5N1 in Nepal. The program was launched between 2006-2014.
Presided over by Dr K P Premy, Director-General of the Department of Livestock Services (DLS), Dr D R Ratala, Chairperson of Nepal Veterinary Council (NVC) and Nabin Hada, Project Development Specialist of USAID delivered the key note speeches in the meeting while Binod Saha, Assistant Representative of FAO Country Office, welcomed the participants of the meeting.
“In the technical session of the meeting, Dr. V C Jha, Program Director of the Directorate of Animal Health under DLS, made presentation on Updates on Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) situation, emerging issues and gaps envisaged in control and containment of HPAI and other zoonotic influenza in Nepal,” said the press release issued by FAO.
Dr Baikuntha Parajuli, National Project Director, Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD), FAO Nepal presented a paper on Project’s support activities in HPAI control and containment during the period spanning from 2006 AD to 2014 AD.
Dr Ratala, Dr Samjhana Kafle, Chief of Central Veterinary Laboratory, Narayan Sharma, Senior Livestock Development of Officers at DLS and Dr Umesh Dahal, Senior Veterinary Officers at DLS, commented on the papers presented by Dr Jha and Dr Parajuli. Dr Bishnu Adhikari was moderator of the session.
In the technical sessions, the experts discussed the various aspects of preparedness to respond to the threats of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in Nepal.
After the emergence of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in Southeast Asia in 2003, Nepal started to recognize the threat posed by the disease. This was later followed by the need for high alert in the country as India reported its first HPAI cases in February 2006. The existence of open cross-border trade between India and Nepal further made the country more vulnerable. In addition, Nepal is located in major flyways of migratory birds. Given these situations, a possible threat of HPAI outbreak was looming ahead which could have disrupted the growing poultry industry in the country.
Nepal introduced some preparedness measures such as setting up of basic diagnostic and surveillance facilities, launching of awareness raising activities, formulation of contingency plan to cope with the threat.
Nepal initially benefitted to some extent by a regional FAO Technical Cooperation Project (TCP) on strengthening surveillance networks and laboratory diagnostic capacity and prevention of HPAI which was implemented by South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in 2005. The project supported in the strengthening of technical capacities of Department of Livestock Services (DLS) through trainings and workshops on epidemiology and laboratory techniques and formulation of a ‘National Avian Influenza Pandemic preparedness and Response Plan’. This plan was further assisted by the World Banks’s Human Influenza Trust Fund (AHF) for the extension of technical assistance throughout the country.
The first financial contribution targeted to HPAI was received by Nepal from the Government of United States of America (USA) through its United States Development Agency (USAID) from July 2006. The fund was received through Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) under the project OSRO/RAS/605/USA baby03 entitled ‘Immediate Technical Assistance to Strengthen Emergency Preparedness for Highly pathogenic Avian Influenza in Nepal’. Following the agreement between FAO and USDA, the project received additional funding over these years.
The project completed its 8th year in March 2014. During the implementation phases, the country experienced few to multiple HPAI outbreaks each year. This caused huge losses in the poultry sector. However, every outbreak was successfully tackled and controlled by the DLS, Nepal. The project worked very closely with the DLS and supported in the strengthening of the emergency preparedness as per the need of the time. The assistance ranged from logistic to technical including training, surveillance and laboratory diagnosis of HPAI.
This review meeting was a recollection of the project activities and aims to judge how best it could address the need of the country and at the same time to summarize the lessons learned over the years. These lessons will certainly guide and pave the way for the planning of future strategy to keep HPAI out of the country.
40 experts representing DLS, NVC, Nepal Poultry Association, District Livestock Services Officers, National Avian Laboratory, Livestock Training and Extension Directorate, Livestock Production Directorate, USAID and FAO participated in the review meeting.