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LACANET Partners and Stakeholders
Dr. Paul Newton – Lao-Oxford-Mahosot-Wellcome Trust Research Unit
“Human, animal and environmental elements of disease are intricately related and improving human health cannot be comprehended without a thorough understanding of the natural world that surrounds us” is the reason why Dr. Paul Newton strongly believes all three sectors need to work together. He sees the increased liaison between human and veterinary health as being very encouraging and places a lot of hopes on the LACANET project to build on this and enhance collaboration. As an infectious disease doctor and ex-zoologist, Dr. Paul Newton has a strong interest in public health and zoonotic diseases, and his experience is mostly focused on the Asian region. Dr. Paul Newton works at the Lao-Oxford-Mahosot-Wellcome Trust Research Unit in the Microbiology Laboratory of Mahosot Hospital in Vientiane, Laos, which facilitates collaboration with Lao counterparts and LACANET project’s stakeholders.
Dr. Matthew Robinson - Lao-Oxford-Mahosot-Wellcome Trust Research Unit
Dr. Matthew Robinson’s background is in parasitology and zoonotic pathogens of clinical and veterinary importance. His previous work looked at the mechanics of how pathogens are transmitted by vectors such as fleas and ticks. More recently, he has been studying the molecular biology of important human pathogens, such as Burkholderia and Pseudomonas. Currently he is the Molecular Microbiologist for LOMWRU, leading the molecular diagnostics for the unit whilst carrying out research on pathogens of clinical relevance in Lao P.D.R. and Southeast Asia as a whole. As recognised by Dr. Robinson, it has long been realised that human infections should not be looked as discrete cases, and that there are often outside factors facilitating their spread and transmission. This is of particular importance today, as changing social demographics, urbanisation of rural areas, increase in intensive farming and changing interactions with wildlife, have resulted in numerous emerging and re-emerging zoonotic pathogens.
Dr. Robinson sees the LACANET Project as an opportunity to identify and highlight possible routes of infection between wildlife and humans. In some locations, the bush meat trade forms an integral part of the food economy, but as a source of infection it is often forgotten about, being over-looked by pathogens from intensive farming practices. In fact, wildlife is a major reservoir for new and emerging pathogens, and by understanding what pathogens are present, and which of those could potentially cause human infections, LACANET researchers can begin to understand exposure risks and possible routes of infection into the human population.
Dr. Mathieu Pruvot – Wildlife Conservation Society
Dr. Mathieu Pruvot received his Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) in France, where he is originally from. During his veterinary education, he specialised in the field of veterinary epidemiology, and became involved in a variety of research project in medical entomology, diagnostic test validation and field surveillance in Burkina Faso, Nepal, and Thailand. Dr. Mathieu Pruvot completed his Msc in epidemiology and biostatistics in France and at UC Davis, CA .In 2014, he completed his PhD at the University of Calgary, Canada, on a multi-disciplinary project aimed at assessing the risk of pathogen transmission between cattle and wild elk, through a combination of laboratory-based approaches, field-based epidemiological studies, analysis of elk telemetry data, and participatory approaches with the rural community. His interest for the role of anthropogenic ecosystem changes on disease emergence encouraged him to become involved in the LACANET One Health project, while carrying out surveillance of zoonotic pathogens in Cambodia and Laos, and analysing the effect of deforestation and illegal wildlife trade on zoonotic pathogen circulation in wildlife.
Dr. Mathieu Pruvot sees the One Health approach and the efforts made to include the environment sector as fundamental, considering that most major epidemics of the last few decades have originated from wildlife and have spilled over to humans due to various activities including encroachment into natural areas, wildlife trade and bushmeat consumption. In his opinion, humans, animals and the environment are inherently connected to each other, and studying them as separate entities would only provide a partial understanding of the issue. Dr. Mathieu Pruvot further notices that the LACANET One Health project has already established important surveillance systems in wildlife, and allowed them to connect with the two other sectors. The LACANET One Health project has also proven to be able to detect significant health issues involving wildlife, livestock and people, and improve researchers’ ability to document these cases appropriately.
Dr. Amanda Fine - Wildlife Conservation Society
Dr. Amanda Fine is the Associate Director of the WCS Wildlife Health & Health Policy Program in Asia. She has a veterinary medical degree (VMD) from the University of Pennsylvania and a PhD in epidemiology from Michigan State University. Amanda has developed her strong interest in disease research and management at the wildlife, livestock and human health interface, through over 20 years of experience working in Southern Africa, Asia and North America. Amanda’s research work has focused on zoonotic diseases including parasitic nematodes, brucellosis, bovine tuberculosis and emerging viral pathogens. In addition to her engagement with LACANET, Amanda is involved in implementing the USAID-funded PREDICT project in Vietnam and Mongolia, where WCS is also working with government partners to strengthen capacities to detect, control, and prevent the emergence of zoonotic viruses of pandemic potential. When referring to the evolution of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) as a public health challenge that requires an understanding of wild bird migrations, poultry production systems and human behaviors to identify appropriate and effective control measures, Dr. Amanda Fine strongly believes that a One Health approach is critical to gathering and applying the expertise from the different disciplines of ecology, veterinary medicine and public health required to understand and address the complex and interacting variables driving infectious disease emergence and zoonotic disease transmission. Dr. Amanda Fine already notices that the LACANET project has facilitated the development of working relationships between practitioners in the wildlife/environment, domestic animal and human health sectors, putting the abstract idea of “One Health” into action on the ground. As a result of the establishment of these relationships, we have already seen an increase in the reporting of wildlife mortality events by forest rangers to domestic animal and public health offices, and the submission of samples to laboratories within the network for diagnostic work ups.
Ms. Khongsy Khammavong - Wildlife Conservation Society
After graduating in Forestry studies, with a major in Watershed Management and Land Use Planning from the National University of Laos, Ms. Kongsy Khammavong joined WCS in 2008. Since then, she has always been very much involved in studying zoonotic diseases in traded wildlife at WCS and now acts as a Project Coordinator at the Lao P.D.R. office. Her interest into One Health concepts lies in her belief that studying zoonotic diseases can’t go without admitting that the health of humans, animals and ecosystems are interconnected. Any failure occurring in one of the three sectors could strongly affect the two others. Hence the importance to keep all three elements healthy. She also hopes the LACANET One Health Project will enable both Lao P.D.R. and Cambodia to increase wildlife disease surveillance human and material capacities, to enable both countries’ to better research on new pathogens.
Dr. Tum Sothyra - Cambodian National Animal Health and Production Research Institute
Dr. Tum Sothyra holds a PhD in Veterinary Sciences from Murdoch University, Australia, and has close to 30 years of work experience in the field of animal husbandry and diseases diagnoses. As Director of the National Animal Health and Production Research Institute (NAHPRI), he is regularly conducting surveillance studies and field outbreak investigations on avian influenza, foot and mouth disease, hidradenitis suppurativa, classical swine fever, as well as porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome. With a view to reinforce the Cambodian animal health sector’s readiness for potential disease outbreaks, he is also very much involved in strengthening laboratory capacity and providing technical workshops to Cambodian staff.
To Dr. Tum Sothyra, the One Health concept is crucial in the sense that the environmental, animal and human health sectors must work together when preventing or fighting off outbreaks. By recognising the success of the zoonotic technical working group (Z-TWG), which meet every month in Phnom Penh, he is confident the One Health LACANET project will help improve health and well-being in Southeast Asia, while promoting the exchange of expertise and information not only among institutions, but also between laboratory and field staff.
Dr. Holl Davun - Cambodian National Animal Health and Production Research Institute
Upon completing his studies in Field Epidemiology in Thailand, and Animal Production and Welfare at the Royal University of Agriculture in Phnom Penh, Dr. Holl Davun started working at the Cambodian National Veterinary Research Institute, of which he is now the Director. Dr. Holl Davun sees great research opportunities with the LACANET project and its readiness to bring all three sectors together. He is also very satisfied by the fact that NaVRI already efficiently cooperates with the Institut Pasteur du Cambodge in an effort to counteract avian influenza, and that, within this framework, a group of researchers from both institutions collaborate on the collection and analysis of samples from live bird markets for the detection of avian influenza. Dr. Holl Davun expects the LACANET project to bring even more actions like these ones, in the near future, that will be either directly linked to the project or that will have resulted from synergies and coordinated actions between the three sectors.
Dr. Sorn San - Cambodian National Animal Health and Production Research Institute
Dr. Sorn San is Deputy Director of the Cambodian Department of Animal Health and Production. He completed a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Micaela Bastida Instituto (Cuba), a Master’s degree from James Cook University’s Australian Institute of Tropical Veterinary & Animal Science (Australia) and a PhD in Microbiology and Parasitology from Montpellier University (France).
Dr Sorn San is very pleased to be part of the LACANET project and join in the One Health effort to detect and counteract existing and emerging zoonosis. He already attends monthly zoonotic technical working groups with a keen interest. These working groups take place between the Cambodian Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the Cambodian National Veterinary Research Institute, the Cambodian Ministry of Health’s Communicable Disease Control Department, the Institut Pasteur du Cambodge, the World Health Organization, as well as the Food and Agriculture Organization, and enable their participants to disseminate information, exchange knowledge and expertise generated from ongoing research and projects. The LACANET One Health project aims to strengthen this collaboration between the three sectors.
Dr. Bounlom Douangngeun – Lao P.D.R. National Animal Health Laboratory
Dr. Bounlom Douangngeun is a Veterinarian. He graduated from the Mongolian State University of Agriculture’s School of Veterinary Medicine in 1991, and from the University of the Philippines Los Baños’ College of Veterinary Medicine, in 1998, where he majored in Veterinary Public Health.
To Dr. Bounlom Douangngeun, controlling pathogens at the human, animal and environment interface is crucial when addressing zoonotic diseases, such as anthrax. Anthrax can be transmitted to humans through direct contact with other infected humans or animals, while Bacillus anthracis, the bacterium causing anthrax, can remain in the soil for decades. Land-use change is another reason that justifies the One Health approach, as recent habitat destruction can lead wildlife to colonise new areas located in the vicinity of livestock and human dwellings, thus leading to new emerging zoonotic diseases.
Although LACANET is a rather new project and that it may still be too early to fully assess its outcome, Dr. Bounlom Douangngeun thinks that bringing the human, animal and environmental sectors from both Lao P.D.R. and Cambodia together will lead to success in determining key factors of zoonotic disease transmission, recommending effective measures to control and eventually prevent the spread of the diseases.
Dr. Watthana Theppangna – Lao P.D.R. National Animal Health Laboratory
Dr. Theppangna Watthana obtained his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from Kasetsart University, Thailand. Following his graduation, he earned 3 years of valuable working experience with Action Contre la Faim and Care International in Lao P.D.R, performing as veterinary consultant and monitoring project officer. Eager to pursue his studies in the veterinary field, Dr. Theppangna attended Yamaguchi University’s Faculty of Veterinary Science, in Japan and graduated in 2008 with his PhD of Veterinary Microbiology. Upon returning to Lao P.D.R., he began his career at the National Animal Health Laboratory (NAHL) as Deputy-Head of Animal diseases diagnostic laboratory unit where he still works at present and was appointed Head of BSL3 Laboratory in 2010. By being involved in the USAID funded PREDICT project from 2010, Dr. Theppangna was already familiar with wildlife emerging infectious disease research and surveillance, as well as the One Health approach. Joining the LACANET One Health project was therefore the next logical step.