The Council of Agriculture (COA) notes that African swine fever (ASF) has continued to spread in European, Asian, and African countries. In the Asian region, already 10 countries have been infected since the outbreak of ASF in mainland China in August of 2018. Since the ASF epidemic struck Vietnam in February of this year, it has spread to 53 provinces, and 5.6 million pigs have been culled. Since August of 2018, Taiwan has been actively strengthening measures to keep ASF outside our borders, and at present Taiwan and Japan are the only two remaining East Asian countries to be free of the disease. Faced with such a highly contagious transboundary disease, it has become increasingly important to cooperate with neighboring countries in combating ASF. Taiwan already employs diagnostic technology that is based on the standards of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). However, such diagnostic technology has not yet been effectively employed in epidemic areas to check for clinical infectious samples.
On October 22, COA Deputy Minister Huang Chin-cheng led a group of colleagues from the COA’s Animal Health Research Institute (AHRI) to hold a seminar with the Vietnamese side on the diagnosis of ASF, at which the two sides engaged in in-depth discussions and exchanges. The Vietnamese explained the ASF epidemic situation in their country, what they have been doing to address the situation, diagnostic methods, and future international cooperation. The Taiwan side made reports on measures taken to prevent ASF and on its diagnosis. On October 23, with Deputy Minister Huang, Vietnam’s Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Dr. Le Quoc Doanh, and Taiwan’s Representative in Vietnam Richard R.C. Shih in attendance, AHRI Director-General Chiou Chwei-jang and Dr. Pham Thi Ngoc, acting director of Vietnam’s National Institute for Veterinary Research, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in Hanoi for future cooperation in combating ASF. In the future the two sides will strengthen cooperation in areas that include diagnostic technology for ASF detection, immunology research, and differential diagnosis technology. Taiwan will also take advantage of this cooperation opportunity to test ASF diagnostic methods on the actual virus.
The COA relates that the signing of the MOU is only the beginning of bilateral cooperation. In the future, besides cooperating on issues raised by ASF, researchers from the two sides can continue to expand participation under this framework and cooperate in development of diagnostic technology and vaccines, as well as in disease-prevention research, for such major animal diseases as foot-and-mouth disease and classical swine fever. It is hoped that Taiwan and Vietnam can cooperate even more closely in animal disease research, in order to strengthen disease co-prevention in the region.