Cambodia, 24 October 2010

It is indeed an honour and privilege for me to welcome all of you, on behalf of H.E. Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, the Secretary-General of ASEAN, to the AMAF Ministerial Side Event on “ASEAN Cooperation on Animal Health and Zoonoses: Avian Influenza and Beyond”. I am pleased to see various representatives present today which clearly reflect ASEAN’s collaborative efforts towards strengthening our cooperation on animal health and zoonoses.

At the outset, I wish to express our deepest appreciation to Cambodia and to the Asian Development Bank for hosting and co-organising this event with the ASEAN Secretariat.

As you may be well aware of, ASEAN is committed to realising the ASEAN Community by 2015. To accomplish this goal, ASEAN adopted the Roadmap for an ASEAN Community (2009-2015) integrating the three Blueprints of ASEAN Political-Security Community; ASEAN Economic Community; and ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community as well as the Second Work Plan of the initiative for ASEAN Integration.

Animal health and zoonoses have been well recognised by ASEAN as an important issue in achieving sustainable development of the region and in the ASEAN Community-building process. Hence, a strong cooperation and collaboration amongst all relevant stakeholders is vital in this common endeavour.

ASEAN carries on four strategic and inter-dependent approaches on animal health and zoonoses. These include the: 1) Strengthening national animal health capability, particularly veterinary services; 2) Strengthening regional coordination on animal health and zoonoses; 3) Supporting animal health sector towards greater contribution to multi-sectoral cooperation on public health in line with the “One World, One Health” approach; and, 4) Enhancing partnership arrangement and cooperation with development partners and donor agencies.

This cooperation on animal health and zoonoses has guided, and continue to provide us, a comprehensive strategy in achieving significant milestones and addressing challenges in our collective effort to establish sustainable prevention, control and eradication strategies at the animal level (at-source) thereby, reducing the threat to humans and to the economic and social development of the ASEAN Community.

Taking stock of these experiences and lessons learnt, the ASEAN Member States through the ASEAN HPAI Taskforce, supported by the ASEAN Secretariat and the ASEAN-ADB HPAI Project, were able to develop knowledge/resource materials and a long-term strategic plan for the prevention, control and eradication of HPAI.

Today, we would like to formally launch these valuable resources as part of our collective effort and common vision towards an HPAI-free and safer ASEAN. These repository of knowledge and experiences also hopes to strengthen our regional coordination and cooperation in animal health and the issues related to it.

First of these is, the “Roadmap towards an HPAI-free ASEAN Community by 2020: Crossing Borders and Traversing Bridges of Partnerhips”, which provides a focused, action-oriented and long-term strategy to progressively control and eradicate HPAI. Endorsed by the 32nd AMAF, the Roadmap will be critical in paving the way for our regional collective efforts to ensure the attainment of our vision.

Second, is the Book on “Prevention, Control and Eradication of Avian Influenza in ASEAN: Strategies and Success Strories”, that highlights strategies, challenges and achievements of the Member States since the campaign began. Beyond the messages of existing experiences, possible replication and future development and implementation of the efforts are also highlighted. This book shall serve as a regional resource and reference for current and future initiatives in addressing emerging/re-emerging diseases of transboundary and/or zoonotic in nature.

Third, is the “Directory of ASEAN HPAI Experts”, which aims to initiate and compile a database of HPAI experts from the public and private sectors as well as from allied veterinary and medical services in the region. This is seen as an essential tool in the sharing and maximising the gained and built-in expertise among the Member States in undertaking national and regional programmes as part of resource mobilisation.

Last, but not least, is the Video “Towards an Avian Influenza-Free and Safer ASEAN”, which we are about to watch in a short while, serves as a promotional and advocacy medium for the continuing support and commitment to HPAI eradication initiatives in the region. It highlights our regional and collective efforts in addressing the disease at-source and in building sustainable frameworks and mechanisms to ensure our capacity to effectively prevent and control disease threats and mitigate risks, particularly on the most vulnerable sectors of our Community.

In conclusion, I wish to convey my utmost appreciation to all who provided their valuable contributions and support in the development of these regional resource materials. These include the: ASEAN Member States for sharing their knowledge and experiences; ASEAN HPAI Taskforce Members for their expertise and valuable insights; Technical and development partners for their inputs and suggestions in improving these materials; Asian Development Bank for providing the venues and funding support; our Team from the ASEAN Secretariat for providing direction and support; and, to the ASEAN-ADB HPAI Project Management Staff for their dedication and able assistance during the development process.

I am now inviting all of us to watch the video presentation to better appreciate our regional cooperation on HPAI and how we can sustain our collective efforts towards an HPAI-Free and Safer ASEAN. Thank you very much!