Thursday, 01 April 2021 21:26

Validation Workshop: Assessment of Animal Health Services, Disease Surveillance and Legislation

31 March 2021, Baghdad: The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in Iraq (FAO), in coordination with the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources (MoAWR), is implementing the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) funded project “Improving Delivery of Animal Health Services and Disease Surveillance in Iraq” to strengthen veterinary services in Iraq.

Today marks an important milestone in the context of the project. As a result of the virtual workshop, which saw the participation of more than 40 government officials from Baghdad, Erbil, Anbar, Ninawa, Duhok, Basrah, Muthanna and Wasit Governorates, including representatives from the MoA, MoAWR, veterinary Directorates, veterinary syndicate, and veterinary hospitals, the Assessment of Veterinary Services, Electronic Disease Reporting System and Veterinary Legislation was unanimously validated.

The agreed roadmap will help Iraq to build capacity in laboratory diagnostics, surveillance and data collection, analysis and reporting, as well as to develop strategies and policies that can support sustained veterinary services within the targeted provinces. The impact of this work will be a reduction of the threat posed by transboundary and endemic animal and zoonotic diseases to livestock production, food security and human health said Dr. Salah El Hajj Hassan, FAO Representative in Iraq. He also underlined the importance of this project under the umbrella of the One Health integrated approach for preventing and mitigating health threats through improved coordination, communication and collaborative actions across disciplines.

Mr Ryan Callanan, Regional Manager, Biological Threat Reduction Program (BTRP) Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) said BTRP is happy to partner with FAO and MoA on this important validation workshop. It is critical to validate the FAO assessment findings since they will guide our future work together to improve veterinary services and transboundary disease surveillance in Iraq
With appropriate support, the veterinary services can be strengthened and the risk for the spread of high‐threat animal diseases in the country reduced, said Dr. Ghazi Hajji, Director General in the MoAWR/KRG. He emphasized the key role of the agriculture and livestock sectors and the opportunity this project represents to improve the Animal Health System.

Dr Methaq Abd Al Hussain, Technical Deputy Minister, MoA, congratulated FAO and DTRA for the great efforts to advance the project. He confirmed the full commitment to cooperate for the successful implementation of the project despite the difficulties caused by the pandemic. The Deputy Minister also thanked Dr. Salah El Hajj Hassan, FAO Representative in Iraq, for the continuous support provided to the agriculture sector in Iraq.

Overall, the three assessments provide specific recommendations to address the identified gaps on veterinary laboratories, surveillance and reporting systems, and the regulatory framework governing animal health and highlight opportunities for a robust veterinary service that has improved communications between regional and central Iraqi authorities, as well as with the herding community.
Dr. Salah El Hajj Hassan, FAO Representative in Iraq concluded the workshop by thanking DTRA for their continued support and cooperation to jointly strengthening the animal health system in Iraq, as well as the MoA and MoAWR/KRG and all other stakeholders for facilitating and contributing to the assessment results.

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