SPC, in promoting One World, One Health, is facilitating
stronger links between agriculture and health in disease diagnostic
capability in the region. A workshop to address these issues was held
from 1-4 November at the Novotel Lami, Suva, Fiji. The workshop was
organised by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community
(SPC) in collaboration with the Fiji School of Medicine (FSMed) and
other partners under the framework of the Pacific Public Health
Laboratory Network (LabNet). It brought together Pacific laboratory
technicians through the Pacific Public Health Surveillance Network (PPHSN).
With the inclusion of animal health representatives from 15 Pacific island countries and
territories (PICTs), the workshop provided an opportunity for information sharing
and identification of common needs and concerns among laboratory workers in both health and agriculture.
The meeting was particularly useful for small
PICTs, as they are looking to maximise their limited animal health resources by
sharing, where possible, with human health laboratory resources. SPC
provides advocacy in regional and international settings to allow appropriate
resource sharing between animal health and human health laboratories, in recognition
of the limited resources in small countries and territories.
Panel discussions included
assessment of the current status of laboratory training, laboratory testing,
specimen shipment, links and support available through reference laboratories,
guidelines to manage PPHSN target diseases and other animal diseases of public
Actions proposed at the meeting
included the completion of human and animal health laboratory policies,
improving laboratory procurements and the establishment of systems for
referring samples between human health and animal health laboratories.
The PPHSN Technical Working Body,
formed at the first LabNet meeting in 2000, is to be revived with revised terms
of references that take into account animal health issues and interests.
A similar laboratory network platform, the Pacific Animal Health Laboratory
Network (PAHLNet) was established in 2009 through PRIPPP and is taking on board
similar activities that made PPHSN LabNet a success.
A one-day training session on the
dangerous goods regulation (DGR) relating to packaging and shipment of human
and animal health specimens was delivered by Ms Vasiti Uluiviti of PIHOA.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) DGR emphasises the
importance of the initial and recurrent training programmes on dangerous goods
to develop appreciation of the risks involved. A total of forty-five
participants attended the DGR training, with forty-one sitting the
certification exam. Twenty-four from public health and fourteen from animal
health passed as certified shippers for Category A/B human and animal
diagnostic specimens. Non-certified participants are still eligible to package
Category B specimens.
PRIPPP supplied French and English
versions of the 52nd edition of IATA's Dangerous goods regulation
manual to all 20 participating PICTs. Ambient bio-bottles and
bio-freeze specimen packaging boxes were also distributed to PICT public health
and animal health participants respectively.
International organisations that were represented included the Centre
for Disease Control (CDC), Environmental Science and Research New Zealand, the
Fiji School of Medicine (FSMed), the Pacific Islands Health Officers
Association (PIHOA), and WHO offices and collaborating centres in Fiji, Manila
and Melbourne. International animal health reference libraries, including CSIRO
Australian Animal Health Laboratory and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry
and Biosecurity New Zealand-Investigation and Diagnostic Centre added diversity to the forum. The meeting was funded by
FSMed, CDC and PRIPPP through AusAID and the New Zealand International Aid
The next PPHSN LabNet meeting is
scheduled for 2012.