Remarks by Christina Lau, Acting Director, Office of Public Health and Education, USAID/Cambodia, Validation Workshop for Cambodia One Health Capacity Assessment

Tuesday, March 13, 2018
Validation Workshop for Cambodia One Health Capacity Assessment

(as prepared for delivery)

 

  • Your Excellency, Dr. Sen Sovann, Director General of General Directorate of Animal Health and Production of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forest and Fisheries
  • Dr. Ly Sovann, Director of Communicable Disease Control Department, Ministry of Health
  • Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen

On behalf of USAID, I am delighted to welcome you to this capacity assessment validation workshop on Cambodia’s “One Health” workforce training needs. This is the second gathering of key partners and stakeholders of the interdisciplinary One Health approach in Cambodia, with the financial support from the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA). This project provides a platform for government agencies, academic institutions, and other stakeholders to meet and work towards a common goal. That goal is to build a skillful health workforce in Cambodia that can effectively respond to the threats of infectious disease that may emerge among humans, domesticated animals, and wildlife.

One way that USAID has helped strengthen the health workforce in both Africa and here in Southeast Asia is to support the creation and development of university networks that have introduced an interdisciplinary “One Health” approach. This is achieved through cross-discipline teamwork and fieldwork, to prepare today’s workforce to combat tomorrow’s emerging infectious diseases.

We are at the beginning of this effort in Cambodia. Introducing this multisectoral approach is part of a larger effort that is being led by the Cambodian government. This approach to strengthen key areas and achieve international standards for human and veterinary health and ensure that Cambodia has the essential cross-sectoral competencies needed to prevent, detect and respond to infectious disease threats effectively. This is very important for Cambodia, for the Southeast Asia region, and for the United States. All of us need to work together to ensure that emerging infectious disease threats are addressed early and properly whenever and wherever they may appear in Cambodia.

This year marks one hundred years since the deadly Spanish influenza pandemic -- an anniversary that serves as a stark reminder of this danger. However, we don’t need to look that far back in history for reminders of how important this is.  So far this year there have been five outbreaks of avian influenza among ducks or poultry in Cambodia. Whenever we see this virus spread quickly among ducks or poultry, we are reminded how easily these viruses can jump to humans. As we know, the question is not “if” an outbreak may occur in the future, but “when” this will next occur, and “how well will we be prepared?”

Building a strong One Health workforce that can address urgent health problems and that is well-versed on the links between human, animal, and environmental health is a top priority. It is necessary to ensure a country can respond to emerging threats when they spark somewhere within their borders.  The starting point for building such a workforce is to identify its needs, plan how best to meet those needs, and make key changes to support an enabling environment. In this way new approaches can find fertile ground and become rooted.

At today’s workshop, we will review progress made towards identifying workforce needs and the needs of key universities and health faculties in order to better train specialists as indicated by surveys in December 2017 and January 2018. This workshop allows us to validate the findings of this assessment and ensure that we are planning accurately around what is needed to strengthen a One Health workforce in Cambodia over the coming year. It is an exciting point in this project because we will start to see what needs to be done and agree on the specific support needed to allow Cambodia to train up a One Health competent workforce.

I would like to express my appreciation to the One Health Workforce team and the Southeast Asia One Health University Network for their technical support on the project, to KOICA for their financial support. I would also like to thank our university partners for your hard work and contributions to this effort, and the Ministries of Health and Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries for your support and participation in the process of strengthening a One Health workforce in Cambodia.

I wish you all a fruitful discussion at today’s workshop and look forward to hearing about the results.

Thank you.

Phnom Penh
Issuing Country 

Last updated: May 01, 2018

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