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Where we work

APCOVE is a consortium of more than 40 veterinary epidemiologists established to strengthen field veterinary epidemiology capacity in the Asia Pacific region.

APCOVE works with government animal health authorities and educators in the Asia-Pacific region to help train animal disease detectives to detect, prevent and control animal disease outbreaks that may impact human health, animal health and farmer livelihoods.

APCOVE is led by the University of Sydney and includes veterinary epidemiologists from all veterinary schools of Australia and New Zealand, and from eight countries in the Asia Pacific. APCOVE also includes animal and public health experts from the University of Minnesota, World Health Organisation (WHO), Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), the US Centre for Disease Control (CDC), Training Programs in Epidemiology and Public Health Interventions Network (TEPHINET) and World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

Funding body

The program is funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Indo-Pacific Centre for Health Security with a $A4.3 million grant and will operate in Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste and Vanuatu.

APCOVE activities

APCOVE works with country partners to strengthen their existing on-the-job training programs for veterinarians in outbreak investigation and surveillance. Our aims for this project:

  1. Develop 30 quality eLearning modules and case studies on outbreak investigation, surveillance, data analysis, risk analysis, One Health, biosecurityleadership and communication. This will support the training of field veterinarians in target countries.

  2. Train veterinarians from each of the target countries in field veterinary epidemiology through online teaching, hands-on applied projects and visiting fellowships to Australia.

  3. Build the capacity of facilitators and mentors in epidemiology, One Health and modern pedagogical methods to ensure effective delivery of existing training programs.

  4. Strengthen networks between local experts to enable them to share their existing resources and knowledge with their peers.

Risk to Australia

Strengthening the capacity of the countries in our neighbourhood also protects Australia from these diseases.

There is a significant risk of spread of transboundary and emerging infectious diseases to Australia as these organisms do not obey national borders. For example, initially starting in one province of China, African swine fever (ASF) spread to several countries in Southeast Asia within a year and decimated the pig population. Australia is at a high risk from incursion of ASF as its virus fragments have been detected in more than 200 samples of pork products taken from airline passengers and from mail centres. Our concern has further increased with the detection of the disease in Timor Leste, not very far from the Australian border. This obviously increases the risk of incursion to Australia.

Similarly, foot and mouth disease (FMD) is present in many Southeast Asian countries. It has been estimated that a large multi-state FMD outbreak will cause a loss of around $50 billion to the Australian economy.  

The potential impact that transboundary animal diseases can cause by entering Australia is hugeBy strengthening the capacity of the veterinary workforce in Southeast Asia to contain diseases at their source, we can help to protect Australia from the devastating impact of these diseases.