Symposium News: Monday 2nd December, Technical Sessions

Technical Session 1

Professor Emeritus Roger Morris of Massey University presented a keynote address to the delegates entitled “One Health Strategy for South Asia – Progress and Prospects”.  After briefly describing the genesis and strategy of the two-phase Regional Training Program in Human and Animal Health Epidemiology being celebrated at this Symposium, Professor Morris outlined several One-Health initiatives being launched in 2014 that will build on the momentum created through the project and involve a number of new and familiar faces across the South Asia Region.

The planned work will again see the establishment of a cohort of trainees for the Master of Veterinary Medicine and Master of Public Health (Biosecurity) programs, combined with more epidemiological field studies in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal. In addition, significant further development of Hubnet and other new epidemiological software tools will be launched.

Following the keynote address, a Hub coordinator from each country presented a short summary of their national perspectives on the critical needs that were assisted through activities of the regional training program. Common themes from the presentations included an improvement in cross-sectoral communications; practical investment in generation of country-specific disease data through the Collaborative Investigation Projects (CIPs); increased epidemiological capacity in the respective animal health and public health government institutions; and creation of a regionally-active community of one-health experts through the One Health Hubs and Hubnet.

Technical Sessions 2 and 3

The objectives of Technical Sessions 2 and 3 were to provide a forum to present the findings of the rabies-related CIPs that were conducted in Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Sri Lanka. Dr Tenzin from Bhutan described their use of GSM-based tracking collars on dogs in an urban area of the country in an effort to understand the ‘home-range’ of free-roaming dogs. They determined that a typical home-range for dogs in their studies was approximately 3.5 square kilometres and that this did not appear to vary based on the gender of the dog.

Dr Nawsher Alam of Bangladesh presented findings from their descriptive study of features and risk factors of dog bite injuries in Bangladesh. Amongst a number of very useful findings that had direct application to improved rabies policy, the project researchers found that most people still are under-informed about rabies, the proper steps that should be taken in the event one is bitten by a dog, and the value of simply washing a dog bite wound with soap and water to prevent rabies infection.

Dr Arumugam Sivasothy from Sri Lanka then closed the afternoon with a discussion of their implementation of a project entitled 'Rabies risk in owned and un-owned dogs in Sri Lanka'.

News Reports

Reports of this week's Symposium are also available on Bhutan's daily news site, Kuensel Online. Read the first report: 'Communication critical to control zoonoses'.