UPLB-SESAM holds the National Inception Workshop for The 1HEALTH Project on African Swine Fever, Avian Influenza, and Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance

The School for Environmental Science and Management, University of the Philippines Los Baños  (UPLB-SESAM), together with the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI), held the National Inception Workshop for the “Country Research Update and Policy Support to the Philippines’ National Surveillance and Control Programs for African Swine Fever, Avian Influenza, and Antimicrobial Resistance: A One Health Systems Approach to Food Animal Security, Public Health Resiliency and Environmental Sustainability” (1HEALTH) project last April 14, 2023 in Seda Vertis North, Quezon City.  The 1HEALTH project is jointly funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research Centre (ACIAR) and International Development Research Centre (IDRC-CRDI) through the UPLB Foundation, Inc. (UPLBFI) with Dr. Yusuf A. Sucolof UPLB-SESAM as project lead along with SESAM Faculty and Research, Extension and Professional Staff (REPS) as project staff.

The workshop was attended by officials and representatives from the key bureaus and divisions under the Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Health (DOH), and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), as well as the private sector working with and advising the Philippine livestock and poultry industry. The inception workshop provided an avenue for collaboration and discourse among stakeholders through exchanges of information on the current situations on ASF, AI and AMR; policy and intervention gaps; operational and research capacities; and needs for enhanced surveillance and control programs for ASF, AI, and AMR diseases. These three major diseases are economically important, high priority and notifiable diseases that constitute the Philippines’ “Big Three A’s” in the animal industry as it continues to cause and threaten wide scale socio-economic losses and damages in pig farms and poultry production. The knowledge gained from this workshop will strengthen network, collaboration and communication capacity and generate insights and recommendations for a comprehensive and a more integrated action plan for the project research implementation.

In his opening remarks, Dr. Rico C. Ancog, Dean of UPLB-SESAM emphasized the importance of co-creation and collaboration among government agencies, research institutions, and the private sector to operationalize the One Health framework. Dean Ancog said, “We hope to work actively with you to make sure that we have a clear understanding to operationalize the One Health framework in the Philippines”. 

Meanwhile, Dr. Nathaniel Bantayan, UPLB Vice Chancellor for Research and Extension (OVCRE), highlighted in his welcome     message the UPLB research agenda, AGORA: Accelerating Growth through One Research and Extension in Action. Dr. Bantayan added, “As a national university, UPLB is a home and a centerpiece of knowledge creation. Looking forward to this One Health Framework, I am sure that with SESAM in the lead, we are in good hands.”

After the opening program, Dr. Sucol, introduced the AIRPOH Philippine project and presented the workshop overview. Dr. Sucol also provided a brief background on the One Health framework and its significance in strengthening the local control programs for ASF, AI, and AMR. 

Dr. Janice Garcia, Dr. Joanna Marie David, and Dr. Alicia Layson from DA-BAI presented the current statusupdates, and prevention and control programs for ASF, AI, and AMR, respectively. On the other hand, Dr. Rizza Araceli Salinas from the DENR Biodiversity Management Bureau (DENR-BMB) discussed the policies relating to wildlife, the Bureau’s involvement in disease surveillance, and the results of their surveillance. Lastly, Ms. Johanna Mallari-Abella, a representative from the DOH Pharmaceutical Division, presented the country’s AMR situation in the context of human/public health followed by the Philippine National Action Plan for AMR. 

For the second part of the workshop, Dr. Sucol facilitated the round table and plenary open discussions with the assistance of the project staff from SESAM.  

Representatives who attended the workshop were from the: DA-BAI  Veterinary Laboratory Division,  Animal Health and Welfare Division, Animal Feeds, and Veterinary Drugs Biologics Control Division, National Veterinary Quarantine Services Division, and Special Projects Unit; DA National Meat Inspection Service and Office of the Assistant Secretary on Regulations; DENR Biodiversity Management Bureau, Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau, and Environmental Management Bureau; DOH  Pharmaceutical Division; and the Philippine College of Swine Practitioners. They actively participated in the workshop and shared and discussed their current plans, policies, and programs and shared their experiences and insights on ASF, AI, and AMR in the country. 

Workshop presenters also identified the gaps, needs, and challenges through the One Health system approach for the development of action plans, policy arrangements and institutional engagements to better encourage and further strengthen the collaboration, coordination, communication, and capacity building among and between the government agencies, the private sector, and the academe for One Health. To conclude the inception workshop, Dr. Rainelda Dela Peña, Chief of DA-BAI Veterinary Laboratory Division, delivered her closing remarks on behalf of Dr. Paul C. Limson, Director of DA-BAI. 

The 1HEALTH Project’ stands for ‘The One Human-Environment-Animal Linkage for Total Health (1HEALTH) Project’. It is one of the only four successful project proposals handpicked by the ACIAR/IDRC-CRDI under the ACIAR-IDRC Program on One Health (AIRPOH) for Southeast Asia (Livestock Systems) 2023-2025 after a rigorous and competitive selection process. It is also one of the two projects that has been approved for funding and contracting in the Philippines for three years.

(Ryan Dave Calventas, Christine Mae Santos, Idel Angelie Malate, Paulliene Leanne Masungsong, Anthea Faltado, Cyril Eliz Gregorio, Rosemarie Laila Areglado, Jessa Aquino, and Yusuf Sucol #The1HEALTHProject).

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