Bird flu training goes local

Bird flu training goes local

SIEM REAP - The UN Food and Agriculture Organization has wrapped up its national bird flu awareness program and is handing over training to district veterinary officers, officials said in Siem Reap, site of one of Cambodia's largest chicken and duck populations and a major trade center for poultry.

The move reflects local success in reducing the likelihood of outbreaks of the deadly H5N1 virus on the hundreds of small, family-owned farms around the country.

"The training enables village animal health workers, who are the eyes and ears of the veterinary service and the first point of contact for villagers who suspect their fowl might have bird flu, to support veterinary services," FAO information officer Maria Cecilia told the Post on June 23 following the FAO's final bird flu awareness forum last week.

 "To make the training sustainable, FAO and the Department of Animal Health and Production are training all 186 district veterinary officers from 24 provinces to become trainers so they can take over this job once FAO funding runs out," Cecilia said.

More than 6,000 village vets have been trained in Cambodia's 24 provinces on such measures as surveillance, bio-security, outbreak response and communication.

 "The Siem Reap forum shows that village animal health workers who recently received training ... have more confidence to speak in public and can answer questions from the villagers," Cecilia said.

Cambodia has experienced seven human bird flu deaths since 2003 amid fears that many cases go unreported by rural villagers with low awareness of the virus. Siem Riep experienced an outbreak on two poultry farms in 2004.