The US Agency for International Development (USAID) and Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) announced plans to strengthen the next generation of zoonotic disease experts in Cambodia. These experts will detect and manage disease outbreaks caused by transmission from animal to human.

A May 4 joint press statement stated that the partnership, which began in 2017, had achieved great success through the One Health Workforce project which established the Cambodia One Health University Network (CAMBOHUN), in which five universities committed to fostering the next generation of zoonotic disease experts.

The five are the Royal University of Agriculture, Prek Leap National College of Agriculture, Royal University of Phnom Penh, Kampong Cham National Institute of Agriculture, and the University of Health Sciences.

Nancy J Eslick, USAID Cambodia mission director, said the partnership had advanced health security in Cambodia and the Mekong region by strengthening the capacity of the health sector to detect and manage zoonotic disease outbreaks.

“Today we celebrate our strong partnership in global health security through joint support for immunisation and to build Cambodia’s next generation of health workers skills in tracking and managing zoonotic diseases – a global priority,” she said.

One Health refers to a multi-disciplinary approach that recognises the connections between human and animal health, and the environment, the press statement said.

It said four faculty members from these universities were now certified as master trainers by the Participatory Epidemiology Network for Animal and Public Health. A One Health student network had been created to develop the One Health leaders of tomorrow.

KOICA country director Hyunjun Rho said he appreciated the hard work of USAID and the project team and was proud of the outcomes of the One Health Project in Cambodia.

He added that One Health was a part of the Global Health Security Agenda. It was a priority area that needed to be developed, which is why the health sector was one of the main focuses of Korean cooperation.

Through the USAID and KOICA collaboration, public health facilities in five northeastern provinces now have functioning vaccine temperature monitoring devices, proper cold chain equipment, and 255 immunisation cold chain officers have been trained to utilise the new technology.

On May 4, USAID and KOICA visited a live bird market in Phnom Penh to see CAMBOHUN students in action.

“Through partnerships like these, USAID supports epidemic preparedness so that Cambodia can prevent and respond to zoonotic disease outbreaks such as avian influenza, rabies, salmonella, and other emerging threats,” the press release added.