2005-04-05 08:17:00
Embassy Rome
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E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: (A) ROME 0877; (B) STATE 52911; (C) JAKARTA 04032





E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: (A) ROME 0877; (B) STATE 52911; (C) JAKARTA 04032

1. Summary. USUN Rome has been holding informal meetings
with technical experts of the United Nations (UN) Food
and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to ascertain FAO's
activities to contain Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza
(HPAI). Since January 2004 when the outbreaks first
occurred, FAO and its collaborating partners, the World
Health Organization (WHO) and Office International des
Epizooties (OIE, or World Organization for Animal
Health),have been actively involved in a campaign to
contain and stamp out the disease. FAO would like more
cooperative efforts with U.S. missions in affected
countries. Comments are invited from these posts on
FAO's HPAI technical assistance and control operations.
USUN Rome can continue to provide information on FAO AI
programs and facilitate communication with FAO management
and at its headquarters. End Summary

2. Background: The Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza
(HPAI) viruses, also known as bird flu, have been in
circulation for over 100 years, but FAO experts state
they have never seen it behave this way where eleven
countries (Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan,
Laos, North Korea, Pakistan, South Korea, Thailand, and
Viet Nam) have reported outbreaks. An unprecedented
number of outbreaks, coupled with the human dimension of
infection resulting in death are requisite components for
a possible pandemic.

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FAO's Role in Controlling Avian Influenza
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3. As the lead UN agency for food and agriculture, FAO is
mandated to recommend national and international action
on animal health, particularly monitoring the occurrence
and impact of animal diseases such as HPAI and developing
policies for effective prevention and control. The
livestock component of FAO's priority program for
Emergency Prevention Systems for Trans-boundary Animal
and Plant Pests and Diseases (EMPRES) promotes the
effective containment and control of epidemic livestock

diseases (e.g. HPAI) by progressive elimination on a
regional and global basis through international
cooperation on early warning and reaction, research, and

4. Since the outbreak last year, FAO has been
collaborating closely with international partners, the
most important of which is the World Health Organization
(WHO),which evaluates the human aspect. WHO's aim is to
monitor and control the outbreak in humans, conduct
research and improve preparedness. FAO undertakes weekly
conference calls with WHO to evaluate the situation and
coordinate response.

5. FAO also works closely with the Office International
des Epizooties (OIE, or World Organization for Animal
Health),which is the lead international standards
setting agency on animal health. OIE develops normative

rules that member states can follow to prevent the
introduction of animal diseases and pathogens.

6. FAO and OIE are working jointly to establish a global
framework on country-specific priorities for controlling
HPAI. National, regional and international proposals are
currently being drafted and coordinated with important
regional stakeholders such as the Association for
Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and South Asian
Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). FAO/OIE
hope to release both regional and country approach
project documents by the HPAI global strategy meeting
being held in Bangkok from May 17-18, 2005. The meeting
will serve as a platform for the regional and
international community to buy-in to operations in
progress and those being proposed.

7. FAO also has been working closely with USDA on the
APEC Symposium on Response to Outbreaks of Avian
Influenza and Preparedness for a Human Health Emergency,
which is scheduled for July 28-29, 2005, in San
Francisco. An FAO representative, Dr. Watanee
Kalpravidh, participated in the Steering Committee
meeting and will make a presentation at the Symposium.

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Funding for HPAI: Predicted Needs and Pledges to Date
-------------- --------------

8. On March 30, senior FAO management reviewed funding
needs for HPAI control. Earlier, FAO indicated country
needs to combat AI will range around $100 million, which
was estimated based on the needs of three countries
(Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia) to strengthen
surveillance, disease control and vaccination, early
warning systems and restructure the poultry sector in ten
countries. Whether an appeal for that amount or greater
will be launched before the May 2005 HPAI global strategy
meeting is not yet certain. However, FAO is currently
formulating two-page concept papers for each country and
region, which will be sent to donors within the next few

9. In addition to the $100 million, FAO estimates $4
million is needed to bolster FAO Technical Cooperation
Program (TCP) activities to maintain national
laboratories and conduct regional epidemiological studies
on HPAI.

10. Between FAO TCP and donor funds, approximately $18
million have been invested to purchase equipment and
provide technical assistance. Donors include the Asian
Development Bank, Australia, France, Germany, Japan, and
the World Bank. In March, both the European Union and
Germany each pledged to FAO approximately $6 million
(Euros 5 million) as start-up funds for developing
regional and country specific projects. The Netherlands
has pledged $250,000 for bolstering FAO's Emergency
Center for the Control of Trans-boundary Animal Diseases
(ECTAD) with a Dutch visiting scientist for six months,
followed by a series of Dutch experts, including the

country's Chief Veterinary Officer. Meanwhile, Finland
has also expressed interest to fund project proposals.

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Recent Outbreaks: North Korea Yes, Myanmar Maybe
-------------- --------------

11. On North Korea, FAO experts suspected the virus was
circulating for six months prior to the Government of
North Korea's recent public acknowledgement of an
outbreak, but could not confirm the information. On March
29, FAO's Bangkok-based Senior Veterinary Officer (SVO)
traveled to North Korea to review the situation and
conduct diagnostic tests. The SVO already has met with
WHO experts. Meanwhile, at the behest of the North
Korean delegation in Rome, FAO HPAI experts have met with
members to discuss FAO programs and technical assistance.
A joint press release will state, "At a farm near
Pyongyang, 160,000-200,000 chickens were noted with high
mortality indicative of Avian Influenza. Similar
mortality conditions were noted in two neighboring
communities. Approximately 219,000 animals have been
culled, while the remaining in the surrounding areas will
be vaccinated." FAO's Regional Coordinator for Mongolia,
China, and North and South Korea, Dr. Guo, will travel to
North Korea on April 2 to assist further with

12. FAO experts also indicate there is an unconfirmed
report of an outbreak in Myanmar. FAO is working with
other organizations to verify this information.

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What has FAO done? Strategy and Actions for Containment
since January 2004
-------------- --------------

13. FAO experts contend that they and their
international partners have a lid on the situation, but
not control, and that much progress has been made in
early detection and rapid response, with fewer recorded
outbreaks this year. Eradication, however, will be a
multi-year effort. If the HPAI virus mutates to a more
virulent strain, the problem will be much more severe and
could give rise to a pandemic. FAO experts stressed the
need to invest in the agriculture and veterinary sectors
to tackle the source, namely, fowl and poultry in Asia,
today. To eradicate HPAI, FAO has come up with a multi-
faceted approach:

- Increasing public awareness activities, technical
assistance, and training, involving all stakeholders from
rural farmers to animal/public health officials, to the
international community;
- Improving diagnostic and monitoring measures;
- Strengthening veterinary networks; and
- Instituting guidelines for disease control/stamping out
and prevention.

Over the course of the year, FAO implemented a series of

19 emergency projects involving these approaches,
covering an area from Pakistan to Indonesia.

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Increase Public Awareness and Technical Assistance
-------------- --------------

14. Within days of the outbreak in January 2004, FAO held
a series of coordination and/or technical meetings,
either individually or jointly with WHO and OIE. Most
recently from February 23-25, 2005, it co-hosted with OIE
a regional "lessons learned" meeting in Ho Chi Minh City,
at which over 2,000 experts and delegates attended, to
assess the HPAI situation one year after the outbreak.
USDA and DHHS have made significant contributions to the
organization and work of FAO's technical consultations.

15. FAO established a Technical Task Force on Avian
Influenza composed of FAO animal disease experts at Rome
headquarters and its regional office in Bangkok. At the
onset, FAO had at its disposal over 25 experts. It
continues to deploy these experts to the region to advise
national and local authorities on measures to control

16. FAO also established the Emergency Center for the
Control of Trans-boundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD),to
strengthen and streamline FAO support to countries and
regions facing HPAI and other animal diseases. ECTAD's
campaign against HPAI is coordinated by its Avian
Influenza Task Force.

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FAO Diagnostics and Research Activities
-------------- --------------

17. FAO's Technical Cooperation Program (TCP) set up six
national TCPs (in Vietnam, Indonesia, China, Pakistan,
Cambodia and Laos) to better grasp and analyze the
situation, conduct diagnostics and surveillance, and
implement contingency plans. It subsequently set up six
regional TCPs and two international TCPs.

18. FAO is conducting studies on the incidence of disease
over different practices. For example, a review of local
farming systems is helping to understand causality and
origins of the disease. FAO is exploring risk factors in
rice/rice paddies, duck production, etc., that contribute
to the spread of HPAI.

19. FAO is using its own software known as Trans-boundary
Animal Diseases Info (TADInfo),which has a mapping and
geographic information systems (GIS) component that
customizes the software to each country, to combat HPAI.

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Strengthening Veterinary Networks
-------------- --------------

20. Because regional collaboration is crucial in
combating a trans-boundary disease like HPAI, FAO

launched a veterinary network project named "Diagnostic
Laboratory and Surveillance Network Coordination for
Control and Prevention of Avian Influenza," to enhance
epidemiological surveillance, diagnosis and control in 23
countries through three sub-regional networks. The
networks not only act as training and information
exchange platforms, but also promote harmonized standards
for disease detection and reporting for national
laboratories. (Veterinarians from the region have taken
samples from all birds in native countries as well as in
countries where birds migrate, and sent the samples to
designated laboratories for proper diagnosis.) The three
sub-regional networks are divided as follows:
- Southeast Asia (SEA),covering Cambodia, Laos,
Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea,
Philippines, Thailand, East Timor and Viet Nam;
- South Asia (SA),covering Afghanistan, Bangladesh,
Bhutan, India, Maldives, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka;
- East Asia (EA),covering China, Japan, the Democratic
Peoples Republic of Korea, Mongolia, and the Republic of

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FAO Guidelines and Initiatives
-------------- --------------

21. FAO issued or published the following:
- Guiding Principles on Highly Pathogenic Avian
- Recommendations for Prevention, Control and Eradication
of HPAI in Asia (with the support of the OIE);
- FAOAIDE news bulletin (or FAO Avian Influenza Disease
Emergency news) issued by the FAO Technical Task Force on
Avian Influenza to provide monthly updates; and
- EMPRES bulletin (to disseminate studies on HPAI

22. FAO and OIE jointly launched the Global Framework for
Progressive Control of Trans-boundary Animal Diseases
(GF-TADs) initiative. GF-TADs is a facilitating mechanism
to empower countries and regional alliances to build
capacity and establish programs to target TADs. HPAI
ranks seventh on a list of twenty-five priority TADs.

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Across Asia: FAO's View on Individual Country's Progress
-------------- --------------

23. When asked for a ranking of countries doing well in
combating HPAI, FAO experts believe China and Malaysia
lead due to their willingness to conduct the surveillance
activities requested by FAO. China's advantage over
Malaysia is its ability to produce high quantities of
HPAI vaccines. Thailand and Viet Nam follow, although
Viet Nam's political will to implement surveillance
programs is stronger than its capacity. Laos and
Cambodia are far behind for their inability to conduct
the required surveillance (for lack of funds).
Indonesia's difficulty is the cost to import the vaccine.
Pakistan's laboratory equipment and materials are quite
dated (circa 1960's),and the country needs good

laboratory facilities to institute good manufacturing

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FAO Programs in the Pipeline
-------------- --------------

24. FAO has underway or is considering developing the
following proposals to strengthen early warning systems,
surveillance, and build laboratory capacity in HPAI
affected countries:

A) A regional project to strengthen HPAI control through
improved trans-boundary animal disease management system
in Asia;
B) Establishing an ECTAD trust fund that allows for cross
country funding;
C) Bolstering ECTAD through a visiting scientist program
or in-kind expert assistance, replicating the Dutch
project; and
D) Creating or emulating a USDA Animal and Plant Health
Inspection Service (APHIS) Emergency Operations Center
(AEOC) like facility. AEOC, in Riverdale, MD, serves as
the national command and coordination center for APHIS
emergency programs for managing emergency projects.

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Areas for Further Collaboration
-------------- --------------

25. In addition to funding the purchase of diagnostic
equipment and protective gear, FAO experts requested
assistance in establishing national scholarships to train
local experts on FAO/OIE guidelines on diagnostics, bio-
safety, environment, and disposal/waste management. For
example, local experts could be sent to the USDA National
Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa, to be
trained on standardized OIE diagnostic procedures. FAO
also requested assistance in facilitating the couriering
of laboratory samples across borders in the region to
designated facilities. More information can be found on
FAO's Web site at lth/diseases

26. Missions can tie in to FAO regional programs by
communicating directly with FAO representatives (FAORs)
and requesting to participate in HPAI donor coordination
meetings. For example, FAO indicated that Deputy FAOR in
Jakarta, Benni Sormin, will continue to lead the donor
coordination meetings at post. Following is a list of
FAORs or deputies and e-mails:
- Cambodia: Jean Claude Levasseur,
- India: Daniel John Gustafson,
- Indonesia: Benni Sormin,
- Korea DPR: Ri Sony Chol,
- Laos: Leena Kirjavainen,
- Myanmar: Zhengping Tang,
- Nepal: Kazuyuki Tsurumi,
- Pakistan: Ronny Adhikarya,
- Sri Lanka: Mazla Mohamad Jusoh,

- Thailand: Hiroyuki Konuma,
- Viet Nam: Anton Rychener,

27. Posts in affected countries are welcome to provide
comments relating to FAO's HPAI technical assistance and
control operations. USUN Rome can continue to provide
information on FAO programs and facilitate communication
with FAO management and experts. USUN Rome will continue
to engage FAO further on measures being taken for
efficient and effective response to the HPAI emergency.


2005ROME01142 - Classification: UNCLASSIFIED