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In recent years, African swine fever virus has spread rapidly throughout much of the Asia-Pacific region. With much of the region’s population reliant on small-scale farming, pigs can often be a mainstay of people’s livelihoods. This is the case in Papua New Guinea (PNG) where pigs are raised for food, economic and cultural purposes.

Pigs can often be a mainstay of people’s livelihoods in Papua New Guinea.

With African swine fever detected in PNG, the country is working to strengthen their diagnostic and disease preparedness capabilities.

Staff from PNG’s National Agriculture Quarantine and Inspection Authority (NAQIA) had already been working with a team of scientists from our Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness (ACDP) when they proposed a further collaboration to strengthen PNG's diagnostic capability in animal diseases.

Our established partnership with PNG

Our scientists had been working with NAQIA on a project to establish surveillance systems for deadly zoonotic insect-borne diseases, such as Japanese encephalitis.

After the detection of African swine fever in PNG, they proposed an expansion of the Japanese encephalitis surveillance project to incorporate surveillance and testing for African swine fever. This has since evolved to cover priority animal diseases in PNG, using African swine fever as a model, helping to strengthen holistic biosecurity diagnostics overall.

This included guidance to establish further surveillance methods for African swine fever and provide equipment and training to PNG lab staff to undertake more accurate tests, and conduct field testing for the detection of the virus.

What the new collaboration will entail

The new collaboration will involve staff from ACDP working with NAQIA’s National Animal Health and Food Testing Laboratory, with funding from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and CSIRO.

Our staff will be providing guidance and training in field disease surveillance and laboratory diagnostics, plus supporting improved biosecurity practices, quality control, risk communication and emergency response.

Supporting NAQIA to develop this capacity will support control of and preparedness for African swine fever in PNG and the region, while adding to our defences against other priority and emerging animal diseases identified by NAQIA like Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, foot and mouth disease and lumpy skin disease.

Supporting PNG to benefit the entire region

By supporting PNG to strengthen their animal disease surveillance, diagnosis and control, we can help to improve food security, economic productivity and market opportunities for PNG, Australia and the entire Asia-Pacific region.

Strengthened biosecurity diagnostics in PNG will support Australia’s disease preparedness, and reduce the risk of the disease through improved animal disease control in our near neighbour.

Support will also be provided to build program skills necessary for future disease preparedness activities.

The project “LabCap PNG: Holistic laboratory capacity building for Papua New Guinea” is funded by DFAT and CSIRO and was developed in collaboration with CSIRO, NAQIA, DFAT.

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