Aussie project for animal security

A research project by Australian scientists in the Philippines is strengthening animal disease-surveillance capacity against health security threats that severely impact the Philippines’ livestock industry.

The project improves policy and governance support for disease detection of African swine fever, avian influenza and antimicrobial resistance.

These diseases are some of the most prevalent animal health threats in the Philippines.

Outbreaks of ASF and Avian Flu in recent years have disrupted food supply and increased production costs for smallholder communities dependent on livestock for food and income security.

The three-year project is funded through a new One Health coinvestment between the Australian Center for International Agriculture Research and Canada’s International Development Research Center.

The project will utilize current socioeconomic and socioecological system assessment approaches to Australia’s One Health.

Recognizing the interconnectedness of humans, animals and the environment, One Health is a framework that helps provide a better understanding of the integration between agrifood systems and human and animal health.

Other applications of One Health include public health threats such as zoonotic diseases and antimicrobial resistance, which occurs when microorganisms that cause diseases no longer respond to standard treatments and adversely impact humans and animals.

Project leader from the University of the Philippines in Los Baños, Dr. Yusuf Sucol, said the research team will work with government agencies, the livestock industry, farmers and local communities to analyze the links, gaps and effectiveness of disease surveillance, control, and emergency measures against these three priority areas for the Philippines to inform better practices.

“Scientific data and research from this project will serve as evidence and inputs to decision-making to support ASF, AI and AMR management and programs. The findings will assist in improving animal-husbandry practices, farm operation standards, and compliance standards to protect and promote animal, human and environmental health,” Sucol said.

The data gathered will also contribute to developing a One Health Innovation Framework in the Philippines, which will include formulating and testing a One Health algorithm or One Health biosecurity measure for ASF, AI and AMR.

ACIAR research program manager for livestock systems, Dr. Anna Okello, said the diseases being studied in the new project are priorities for the Philippines and many other countries in Southeast Asia.

“ASF, AI, and AMR continue to be significant challenges for livestock industries in the region,” Okello said.

“This new research project in the Philippines is creating a more sustainable animal industry and health system that are risk-informed, adaptive, and responsive to the country’s agriculture sector.”