The Ministry of Agriculture is Ready to Strengthen the Role of Bioinformatics in the Animal Disease Sector in ASEAN

ASEAN member countries have agreed to strengthen regional mechanisms in preventing, early detecting, and responding to animal and zoonotic diseases with potential pandemics.

Bioinformatics is one of the tools to describe the nature, characteristics, and biological dynamics of living things, including agents or microorganisms that have the potential to cause disease outbreaks in animals, plants, and humans. Bioinformatics is used to determine and characterize patterns of disease occurrence in a molecular and epidemiological manner (molecular epidemiology). With the application of bioinformatics, the characteristics of disease agents can be carried out more comprehensively so that it helps the efficiency and effectiveness of measures in disease control.

Indonesia is a country that has advantages in the bioinformatics sector. This is proven by the approval of the Wates Veterinary Center as the Regional Reference Center for Bioinformatics at the ASEAN level.

Endorsement approval from ASEAN countries for BBVET Wates has been submitted at the working group meeting on the ASEAN level livestock sector or ASWGL (ASEAN Sectoral Group on Livestock) in April 2021 and was confirmed in the Senior Officials Meeting of the ASEAN Ministers Meeting on Agriculture and Forestry (SOM-AMAF) in August 2021.

The Head of the Wates Veterinary Center, Hendra Wibawa, when contacted separately explained that various efforts have been made by BBVet Wates to prove its superiority. One of the activities carried out is bioinformatics training for animal health laboratories throughout ASEAN which will be held on 1-3 February 2021. Previously, BBVet Wates had also socialized the application of bioinformatics in monitoring the influenza virus (bird flu) in Indonesia to the delegates of the avian influenza technical working group in ASEAN (Avian Influenza Group in ASEAN, AIGA) in 2018.

“BBVet Wates has become a national reference laboratory for bird flu with the appointment of the Minister of Agriculture. aside from that, this laboratory also leads a national-level laboratory network in monitoring influenza virus or Influenza Virus Monitoring in Animal (IVM) and has been equipped with a web-based electronic data platform, namely IVM Online,” he explained.

The results of the IVM have been used by the Government to establish vaccine policies and Avian Influenza vaccination.

In response to this, the Director-General of Livestock and Animal Health, Nasrullah, appreciated the advantages of BBVet Wates who have succeeded in proving their superiority in the ASEAN region.

“The detection speed of animal diseases is very important to be able to mitigate, prevent and overcome animal diseases so that they do not spread widely. This will indirectly increase the reliance of other countries on Indonesian livestock products. The hope is of course an increase in exports for Indonesian livestock products,” he explained.

He further said that the topic of animal health was also one of the important topics discussed at the ASEAN ministerial meeting of agriculture, fisheries, and forestry (the 43rd AMAF) which was held on 27 October the other day.

“ASEAN member countries have agreed to strengthen regional mechanisms in preventing, early detecting, and responding to animal and zoonotic diseases with potential pandemics. We must participate more in this matter, even though Indonesia’s role in the field of animal health has been quite dominant,” he concluded.

Several documents of Indonesia’s work have also been approved or endorsed at the 43rd ASEAN Ministers Meeting on Agriculture and Forestry (AMAF) yesterday. Some of these documents include: TOR&ROP of Regional Reference Center (PRC) for Bioinformatics, ASEAN Strategy for Exotic, Emerging, Re-emerging Diseases and Animal Health Emergencies, and ASEAN Good Manufacturing Practices for Slaughterhouses and Meat Cutting Plants.

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