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The challenge

Diseases don’t respect borders

The risk of new diseases and pests entering a country is always possible. In Australia, we maintain a system of biosecurity to prevent, respond to and recover from pests and diseases that would threaten our economy and environment.

The National Institute of Animal Health (NIAH) in Thailand conducts research on economically important diseases of animal health. ©  SeanM

ACDP, our national biocontainment facility plays an important role in supporting our biosecurity system and as the only high-containment animal health laboratory in our region, also works with Southeast Asian countries to reduce disease risks and support their efforts to control and manage infectious diseases.

Thailand also has a well-developed biosecurity system and operates the National Institute of Animal Health (NIAH) which conducts research on economically important diseases of animal health, provides diagnostic services of animal diseases and provides many other core functions that help to protect Thailand’s agricultural industries and her people from emergency animal disease outbreaks.

NIAH has a strong commitment to increase their technical capacity to stay ahead of emerging disease trends in the region, particularly in the area of emerging infectious disease preparedness.

Our response

Sharing knowledge

ACDP and NIAH entered into a partnership under a World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) Laboratory Twinning Project to increase the capacity for NIAH to diagnose and respond to new and emerging diseases in the Asia-pacific region.

ACDP is already an accredited OIE Collaborating Centre for New and Emerging Diseases and can therefore provide the necessary expertise to help build NIAH’s capacity in this area.

Over a period of three years, our staff worked with staff at NIAH exchanging knowledge and training.

A critical step in responding to a disease outbreak is the ability to conduct tests to rapidly diagnose the pathogen causing the illness. Scientists need training in the methods used to isolate viruses and the laboratory needs to maintain a set of tests that can be used to confirm the diagnosis.

Our scientists shared their expertise in diagnostics, methodologies and test development including training in next generation sequencing, the latest technology allowing rapid diagnosis and response to outbreaks.

The results

Together we are stronger

Over the course of this twinning project, staff at NIAH have developed their expertise in the scientific areas required for conducting diagnostic testing for emerging animal diseases and this has further contributed to their status as the lead biocontainment facility for Thailand animal health activities.

As a result of this project, NIAH Thailand has applied to the OIE to become a Collaborating Centre for New and Emerging Diseases in the Asia region.

A key aspect of the project is for the establishment of an enduring partnership between ACDP and NIAH, to develop ongoing collaboration and consultation to deliver better preparedness for Thailand and countries in the ASEAN Region beyond the life of this project.

A formal technical partnership between ACDP and NIAH will be developed in the coming months, which will not only reduce disease risk in the ASEAN region but provides us with better threat assessment and assists us with management of our own pre-border biosecurity.

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