Sydney veterinary scientists helping communities around the Pacific

3 August 2022

Leading animal health in partnership with global organisations

Top Sydney veterinary scientists are spreading awareness, training, and planning to neighbouring Pacific Island Countries in order to help prevent outbreaks of infectious diseases like foot-and-mouth.

Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) has become a serious threat once again, with its re-introduction to Indonesia after 36 years and new outbreaks occurring in the Southeast Asia region putting veterinary scientists in Australia on high alert.

As part of the University of Sydney’s commitment to leadership in animal health and welfare around the world, a number of our researchers are working in partnership with global organisations, including the WOAH (World Organisation for Animal Health) and the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations), to assist with disease preparedness and planning in neighbouring Pacific Island countries.

It is a pleasure to be partnering with FNU with support from WOAH and the Australian government. We are all learning during the interactive online sessions!
Associate Professor Jenny-Ann Toribio
Jenny-Ann Toribio

Associate Professor Jenny-Ann Toribio is the lead on the partnership with the WOAH to deliver the second phase of the special internship program for Fiji National University (FNU).

In this partnership, 40  graduates from FNU are engaged in a training and upskilling program,  to contribute to strengthening animal health and welfare in Fiji and the Pacific.

“The FNU graduates are keen to improve their investigation and treatment of illnesses in poultry, pigs, goats and cattle, so that straight away they can improve livelihoods and making food safer, and help to ensure any new diseases are identified early." said A/prof Toribio. 

We’re excited to deliver our train-the-trainer program. Our research has shown how important developing transboundary animal disease preparedness is for the Pacific Islands region to ensure nutritional and socio-economic security and protect people’s livelihoods.
Dr Victoria Brookes
Dr Victoria Brookes

Dr Victoria Brookes is leading a project funded by the Food and Agriculture Organisation to enhance disease surveillance and emergency responses to transboundary and emerging infectious diseases. Her work is across a number of nations in the Pacific, including Cook Islands, Tonga, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Samoa. 

The goal of this program is to increase these nation’s abilities to respond quickly to highly-infectious animal diseases. Dr Brookes and her team are conducting a gap analysis - understanding where there is a need for further training, and then developing and delivering a “train-the-trainer” style online program. 

"Our research has shown how important developing transboundary animal disease preparedness is for the Pacific Islands region to ensure nutritional and socio-economic security and protect people’s livelihoods." said Dr Brookes.

With the arrival of FMD & lumpy skin disease in Indonesia this year, and African swine fever reaching Papua New Guinea in recent years, there is a heightened need for preparedness across Pacific Island countries for emergency animal disease (EAD) incursions, and training is a big part of that.

The AMR situation in Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Island Countries is quite different from the situation elsewhere, with limited antimicrobial use in livestock, and learnings from other countries can help us maintain that favourable status.
Professor Ruth Zadoks
Image of Professor Ruth Zadoks in a field

Prof Ruth Zadoks has made vital contributions to her field as a regional expert in Anti-Microbial Resistance (AMR), most recently with a virtual training session for Pacific Island Countries.

The session, titled “Prevention and control of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in the context of an overall ‘One Health’ approach involving both veterinary and human fields”, was organised as part of the EU-funded “Better Training for Safer Food” Initiative.

This was a 5-day workshop with 2 hrs of presentations, group discussions and interactive sessions per day, and was attended by experts from Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan, Vanuatu, Samoa, Fiji and Kiribati.

“This programme has been delivered around the world on behalf of the EU team and it was really valuable to contribute to it as regional representative." said Professor Zadoks.

Sydney’s veterinary science researchers are committed to helping animals both domestically and internationally. With the constantly changing global environment and animal health landscape, the need to work together with our neighbouring Pacific Island Countries has never been more important.