Veterinary twinning project works to reduce threat of infectious diseases, strengthen biosecurity
Dignitaries from the Jordan University of Science and Technology (JUST), the British Embassy and the UK's Royal Veterinary College (RVC) are today gathered in Amman to celebrate the success of a project to reduce the threat from infectious diseases in the Middle East.
For the past two years, JUST and the RVC in London have participated in a UK and US backed project to improve public health in the Middle East and tackle potential biothreats. Through the project, these two leading academic institutions have been twinned to enhance the delivery of veterinary education and foster collaboration between European and Middle Eastern scientific communities.
Regional conflicts and the Syrian refugee crisis have put a lot of strain on public health systems throughout the region. This has increased the risk of disease spread and the potential implications of a disease outbreak whether naturally occurring, or caused by an accidental or deliberate pathogen release.
The JUST and RVC collaboration is part of an international partnership programme of more than 30 countries including UK, USA and Jordan, which aims to improve national capacity to detect and control infectious diseases and to strengthen biosecurity systems. The twinning of these leading veterinary institutions has provided opportunities for the regular exchange of skills and experience for academics and students from both universities. It is also enabling Jordan to develop the capacity to ensure its own biosecurity by developing stronger regional disease surveillance, diagnostics and control systems.
Brucellosis (an infectious disease that can spread from farm animals to humans) and the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), which it is believed can spread from camels to humans, are examples of two significant biological risks that can only be effectively controlled by the application of a One Health approach involving close collaboration between the human and animal health sectors. The diseases also have a negative economic impact by affecting confidence and damaging trade. By helping tackle these threats, this programme is also contributing to Jordan's food security and enhancing Jordan's ability to export animal products, therefore bolstering economic security in the region.
The project is managed by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), using funding from the UK Government International Biosecurity Programme and their US partners. It has successfully developed the teaching expertise at both institutions through mutual visits, research projects and integration with joint specialist workshops in different areas of veterinary medicine and biosecurity.
Through the success of this project, some areas of research have already attracted further funding, such as a Medical Research Council grant to investigate MERS-CoV. At this celebration of the first phase of partnership, the universities also look forward to future developments including JUST acting as regional advocate for the teaching and curriculum development methods introduced by the RVC, and the possibility of JUST achieving European accreditation for its veterinary degree courses.
Prof. Saeb Khraisat, the president of JUST, said: "The partnership between JUST and RVC in addressing global challenges related to global health is an example of effective global partnership between Jordanian and UK universities and a great example of higher education internationalization.
Ehab Abu-Basha, Jordan University of Science and Technology (JUST), said: "The Veterinary Education Twining Program between the Royal Veterinary College and Jordan University of Science and Technology is making huge impact on JUST veterinary graduates and Jordan's veterinary and public health sectors. The program has established a platform for exchange of knowledge and best educational and research practices in the field of veterinary education and veterinary public health. We hope that this platform will transform veterinary education and improve veterinary public health not just in Jordan, but in the entire Middle East and the Arab world."
Professor Stuart Reid, Principal of the Royal Veterinary College, said: "In challenging times and an uncertain world, the RVC is committed to its global citizenship and international obligations. Working with our friends in Jordan, and supported by our international partner agencies, it has been a pleasure to translate this commitment to a reality, making impact in a domain that is pivotal to economic and social stability. Initiated by OIE, our programme with a focus on biosecurity, food safety and public health places veterinary science and One Health at the centre of our safer future."Veterinary twinning project works to reduce threat of infectious diseases, strengthen biosecurity