By Mengey Eng
| December 17, 2017
The Laos Cambodia One Health Network (LACANET) brought together various stakeholders from government, NGOs, private sector and health experts to review and comment on project’s finding and achievements, while providing the recommendation for future action and policies after the project has been implemented for almost four years in both Cambodia and Lao countries.
LACANET, funded by European Union (EU), brings together partners in the human health, animal health and wildlife sectors to create capacity to survey, diagnose, and understand the drivers of disease at the human-animal-environment interfaces. This project is led by the Institute Pasteur du Cambodge (IPC), in collaboration with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), the Cambodian National Animal Health and Production Research Institute (NAHPRI), the Lao National Animal Health Laboratory (NAHL) and the Lao Oxford Mahosot Wellcome Trust Research Unit (LOMWRU).
During the meeting, all partners shared the outstanding achievements of this project. In particular, over the past 4 years, WCS has contributed to building wildlife health surveillance network in the two countries, by establishing collaborations with government and NGO partners in protected areas and rescue centers. In Cambodia, over 186 staffs were trained to report and collect sick and dead wildlife. This includes forest rangers, wildlife monitoring team, rescue center staff, and other government staff from the environment, forestry and animal health sector. In Lao PDR, similar trainings involved over 120 staff. This has allowed the detection of significant health threats to wildlife, livestock and humans, such as cases of poisoning in protected areas, outbreaks of influenza A virus, as well as carcinogenic virus outbreak in sun bears, which would not have been detected otherwise. The meeting was the opportunity to discuss the steps that have been taken to ensure the sustainability of these health surveillance mechanisms.
WCS and partners also reported on the outcomes of two research projects investigating the effect of wildlife trade and deforestation on zoonotic disease emergence. This important research, linking conservation and health, showed the significant changes that deforestation triggers on rodent communities and on the pathogens they carry, and how this result in an increase circulation of pathogens in disturbed and recently cleared land where humans may be more likely to get infected. In Laos, the study focusing on wildlife trade demonstrated the presence of important pathogens that are harmful to humans and highlighted the risk of bushmeat consumption for public health.
Both wildlife disease surveillance and research projects presented during this meeting generated great interest among stakeholders, and highlighted the benefits of working collaboratively between conservation organization, public health and animals health institutes.