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Avian Influenza Simulation Exercise Held in Bhopal Amid Global Outbreak Concerns

Bhopal: The Department of Animal Husbandry, in collaboration with the World Bank, is conducting a crucial Avian Influenza Outbreak and Response Simulation Exercise in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, on June 19 and 20, 2024. This timely workshop addresses the recent unusual outbreaks of Avian Influenza in Kerala and a global trend of spillovers to non-poultry species, including cattle.

The programme was inaugurated by Dr. Abhijit Mitra, Animal Husbandry Commissioner, DAHD, alongside Gulshan Bamra, Principal Secretary of the Department of Animal Husbandry, Government of Madhya Pradesh. Also present were Dr. Hikuepi (Epi) Katjiuongua, Senior Agriculture Economist at the World Bank, and Dr. Atul Srivastava, Principal Chief Wildlife Warden, Government of Madhya Pradesh.

The two-day workshop aims to enhance preparedness and response capabilities for avian influenza outbreaks. Attended by 40 participants from various sectors, the simulation exercise exemplifies a One Health approach by involving representatives from human health (National Centre for Disease Control, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare), animal husbandry (Department of Animal Husbandry & Dairying, state AHDs), wildlife (Zoo and WWF), and laboratory experts (ICAR-NIHSAD, RDDLs, CDDL, and state veterinary laboratories from Kerala, Odisha, and Madhya Pradesh). International organizations such as WHO and OFFLU are also participating, underscoring the collaborative effort to tackle this formidable disease.

Facilitated by Dr. Lidewij Wiersma, an expert from the World Bank, and Dr. Frank Wong, WOAH expert on Avian Influenza from CSIRO-Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness, the exercise focuses on effective outbreak detection, rapid response strategies, and inter-agency coordination to manage and contain the spread of avian influenza. Interactive scenarios mimic real-life outbreak situations, providing participants with hands-on crisis management experience. Key topics include surveillance and monitoring systems, emergency response protocols, and public communication strategies.

“As the world contends with an increasing number of zoonotic diseases, such initiatives are vital in building resilient health systems,” said Dr. Abhijit Mitra. “The Department of Animal Husbandry and the World Bank are committed to working together to mitigate the impact of avian influenza and protect both human and animal health.”

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