TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates how infectious disease outbreaks anywhere can have devastating health, economic, political, and societal consequences worldwide. No country has been untouched by COVID-19 and no country is fully prepared for the next pandemic disease outbreak.
Many of the greatest pandemic threats are associated with what are called “zoonotic diseases”, also known as “zoonoses”, diseases that can spread between animals and humans. This means that continuous attention to animal diseases in general and zoonoses, in particular, remains a priority for governments around the world, including Indonesia.
Indonesia along with 70 other countries are working to accelerate political and multi-sectoral support for health security preparedness in a global initiative, called Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) to keep the world safe from infectious disease threats.
In support of this GHSA, Indonesia’s Ministry of Agriculture in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations through the Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (FAO ECTAD) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) launched a Global Health Security Programme (GHSP) today virtually.
Kasdi Subagyono, Secretary-General of the Ministry of Agriculture said “I hope that the synergy and harmonization of the implementation of the GHSP project with other projects at the Ministry of Agriculture can run while ensuring good administrative aspects in planning, implementing, and reporting according to regulations, by taking best practices and lessons learned from the experience of implementing previous projects.
I would also like to extend my appreciation to all the partners of the Ministry of Agriculture from ministries/agencies, associations, and international development partners, especially FAO Indonesia and USAID, who have been supporting and cooperating with the Government of Indonesia in efforts to strengthen sustainable animal health services in national level. We hope that our efforts can also contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).” said Kasdi.
In addition, the Director General of Livestock and Animal Health Services Ministry of Agriculture (DG-LAHS MoA) explained that Indonesia was one of the lead countries of the Global Health Security Agenda and has been actively contributing as a member of the Steering Committee since 2016 – 2024. Indonesia's contribution to the global initiative has also been highlighted by the President.
“This collaboration is expected to be able to prevent, early detect, and control emerging infectious diseases, especially those that threaten Indonesia's health and economy. Furthermore, this collaboration hopefully can contribute to improving human health, food security and, livelihoods,” said Nasrullah.
Nasrullah added that this program is also in line with the National Medium-Term Development Plan (RPJM), particularly related to food security and health. He hopes that this program can be an opportunity to increase mutual commitment to move forward.
GHSP is a new platform building on a long history of collaboration between the Ministry of Agriculture and FAO ECTAD-USAID in reducing pandemic risks. The collaboration was prompted by the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) pandemic in 2006. Indonesia had the highest number of H5N1 bird flu cases worldwide and unfortunately, the highest number of human fatalities until 2014, underscoring the importance of effective prevention and control.
Whereas the number of human bird flu cases has decreased significantly, the endemic situation of the H5N1 virus continues to pose a threat to the poultry industry and human health in Indonesia and beyond. In addition to bird flu, other high-impact zoonotic diseases such as rabies and anthrax continue to be endemic in many parts of Indonesia.
The GHSP project will run for the next four years and focuses on technical assistance in four key areas: a) Multi-sector collaboration and policy development; b) Surveillance, laboratory, and risk management; c) Disease preparedness and response with a One Health focus; d) National poultry health and control of antimicrobial resistance.
FAO and USAID Support to the Programme
FAO and USAID has been dedicated to working together with the government to build the capacity for pandemic prevention in Indonesia so that the country can swiftly respond to and manage outbreaks.
Together with the Indonesian government, FAO strengthens local animal health capacity and delivers training and technical assistance on disease surveillance, laboratory diagnostics, outbreak reporting, and investigation, as well as preparedness and response through the One Health approach.
“As well as enormous and devastating health impacts, COVID-19 has disrupted global food security and economies. Globally, more than 132 million people more people may go hungry as a direct result of COVID-19. We want to do all that we can to avoid another global health emergency like COVID-19 to happen again. We need to detect potential outbreaks as early as possible. As always, FAO stands ready to work together with Indonesia to respond early and effectively.” said Richard Trenchard, FAO Representative ad interim for Indonesia.
“It’s a privilege to continue working with Indonesia on tackling emerging infectious diseases,” said the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Indonesia Acting Deputy Mission Director Laura Gonzales. “Through the One Health approach, USAID’s Global Health Security Program will reduce zoonosis and infectious disease risk, antimicrobial resistance, and biological threats by strengthening Indonesia’s animal health systems. GHS will build on our past successes -- and the lessons we’re learning from responding to COVID-19 -- to further hone Indonesia’s zoonotic and infectious disease detection, preparedness, and response capabilities.”