Dept. Collaborates on Animal Health in Timor-Leste, PNG

Dept. Collaborates on Animal Health in Timor-Leste, PNG

In early 2024, officers from the Office of the Chief Veterinary Officer travelled to Timor-Leste to help with a large-scale canine rabies vaccination program. With rabies entering neighbouring West Timor for the first time in early 2023, the Timor-Leste Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock Fisheries and Forestry (MALFF) has been leading a pre-emptive dogs vaccination program in the Municipalities bordering West Timor as well as in the capital, Dili to keep the country rabies-free.

Timor-Leste’s Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Joanita Jong with rabies vaccination team members. Credit: DAFF.

With funding, planning and on ground support from our department, and rabies vaccines donated by the Australian government, the field teams have been well received in communities and are well on the way to achieving their targeted 70% vaccination rate in dogs.

With the rabies vaccination program in full swing, the Office of the Chief Veterinary Officer partnered with CSIRO’s Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness (ACDP) in January to bring in-country rabies diagnostic capability to Timor-Leste. Over an intensive two-day practical course in Dili, ACDP provided training on how to safely take samples in the field and test for rabies using rapid field test kits, to bolster rapid disease detection and response.

Puppy being vaccinated at the pop-up rabies vaccination clinic in Dili. Credit: DAFF.

In late 2023 the Office of the Chief Veterinary Officer also continued its work with Papua New Guinea (PNG) to reduce animal biosecurity risk across the region. A multi-disciplinary department team with expertise in animal, plant and border biosecurity was invited by PNG’s National Agriculture and Quarantine Inspection Authority (NAQIA) to work together to assess the training needs of PNG’s frontline border quarantine officers.

The team visited the airport, sea-port, mail and cargo facilities in Port Moresby with a focus on quarantine and inspection opportunities. With expertise our department’s Biosecurity Training Centre, the team is now designing an induction training course for NAQIA’s frontline biosecurity officers.

In November, department officers also worked with the NAQIA team to progress establishment of an early warning system for animal disease in PNG’s Western Province. They met with village rangers from 40 locations across Western Province to share information about animal diseases like foot-and-mouth disease, avian influenza and African swine fever.

The team also trained the rangers to report any changes in the health of village animals to NAQIA using their mobile phone-based National Animal Health information System. This collaboration between NAQIA and village rangers acts as an early warning system for disease incursions in a key area for both PNG and Australia, with the close cultural connections between PNG’s Treaty Villages and the Torres Strait.

DAFF and NAQIA officers at the Port Moresby cargo centre. Credit: DAFF.
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Dept. Collaborates on Animal Health in Timor-Leste, PNG

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