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Technical Assistance to Avian Influenza Preparedness and Response in Turkey

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The Technical Assistance to Avian Influenza Preparedness and Response project was launched in February 2007 by the European Union (EU) Commission to support Turkey in its fight to combat the spread of bird flu. The overall goals of the project were to minimise the threat of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) infection in domestic poultry and other animals, to reduce the burden of disease, and to strengthen Turkey’s bird flu pandemic preparedness and response. The project, which closed in November 2008, provided technical support to the Turkish Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA) and the Ministry of Health (MoH) in policy and strategy development for avian influenza (AI) preparedness surveillance and response. It also sought to strengthen the capacity of the Turkish Veterinary Services in avian flu disease control and eradication. The project was implemented by Conseil Santé, a health-focused consulting company.
Communication Strategies: 

The work of the project was structured into four Workpackages, each encompassing some of the following tasks (Further details are available on the project website):

  1. Strategy and Regulation - this included the development of an avian flu strategy, including workshops and training to disseminate the proposed strategy. Through advocacy efforts, by May 2008, a national plan for prevention and control of influenza pandemic had been finalised, and a National Crisis Centre contingency plan for influenza pandemic prepared. A table of correspondence between Turkish law and European Union (EU) veterinary directives was drawn up, and a draft AI sub-law adopted and entered into force. In addition, a draft sub-law for Newcastle Disease was completed, following a public consultation period.
  2. Studies/Surveillance and Information Systems - this included the assessment of epidemiology studies, reports, and surveillance programmes, as well as the creation and use of targeted surveys to fill information gaps. It also included the establishment of an interdisciplinary task force to cooperate with MARA and the Ministry of Environment and Forestry (MoEF) regarding wildlife monitoring and upgrade of the Veterinary Information System. Efforts to share information took the form of face-to-face sessions, such as a workshop held on AI surveillance in wild birds and a presentation on safe hunting, as well as printed materials, such as an AI field manual for wild bird and backyard poultry surveillance which was distributed to all veterinarians.
  3. Strengthening Veterinary Services and Coordination - this included strengthening administrative capacities; enhancing surveillance capacities, including epidemiologist and wildlife training; improving laboratory diagnostic capabilities; strengthening preparedness and response capabilities, including outbreak management training; and developing links with international AI information networks. The project website was set up as one tool for fostering cooperation, in part through its list of AI websites designed to foster further learning and contact with like-minded efforts in countries other than Turkey.
  4. Awareness and Control Measures - this included improving avian flu public awareness through: risk communication and behaviour change communication; improving bio-security in backyard poultry, through identification and testing; and addressing poultry industry problems, including compartmentalisation and manure disposal. One theme running through this particular portion of the project was intersection with the mass media. For example, organisers prepared an article for international publication on the role of hunting in AI introduction into backyard poultry. They also gave television interviews on the AI situation, including improved reporting and response. Also, one practical component of a real-scale AI simulation exercise that took place in October 2008 was a "fake press conference" to prepare participants for interaction with the media.
Development Issues: 

Health, Natural Resource Management.

Key Points: 

Click here to visit the project website, where various types of information are included, such as the project final report, report and documentation for compartmentalisation, and a review of wild bird mediated H5N1 HPAI in Turkey.

Partner Text: 

EU Commission, Conseil Santé.

Source: 

Technical Assistance to Avian Influenza Preparedness and Response in Turkey website; and emails from Paul R. Watson to The Communication Initiative on March 7 2008 and December 3 2008.

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