Dr Mark Schipp, Chief Veterinary Officer, Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, Canberra, Australia, informed the OIE that a simulation exercise on foot and mouth disease (FMD), known as Exercise Athena, will be held between 21 November and 2 December 2016. The Exercise Athena scenario will simulate an outbreak of FMD in multiple jurisdictions in Australia: Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia.
Exercise Athena will be conducted by the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources and involve Australian and international participants. Staff from Queensland, New South Wales, Western Australia and Animal Health Australia will assist with coordination of the exercise. Likewise staff from the Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States of America will be involved both as participants and in coordination of the exercise.
The overall aim of Exercise Athena is to promote awareness of and support for the International Animal Health Emergency Reserve (IAHER) Arrangement and assess the IAHER operations manual. The IAHER Arrangement allows signatory countries (Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, United Kingdom, and United States of America) to share personnel in the case of an Emergency Animal Disease (EAD) event. The IAHER Operations Manual outlines agreed policies, procedures and templates that enables personnel to be rapidly deployed under the IAHER Arrangement. The Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources will also be conducting a departmental component within the exercise to assess its ability to provide human resources, upon request, to one or more affected jurisdictions.
The specific objectives of Exercise Athena are:
- provide an opportunity for IAHER signatory countries to practice their role, as either recipient or donor, in identifying, selecting and preparing personnel for deployment under the IAHER Arrangement;
- identify gaps to improve the IAHER Operations Manual when the IAHER Arrangement is invoked; and
- update the IAHER Operations Manual with findings from the exercise, if necessary.
Exercise Athena is a simulation. All exercise activities will occur within the confines of each signatory countries’ agency office, during their normal business hours, and will not include deployment of staff to the recipient country.
World Animal Health Information and Analysis Department
World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)