Simulation exercise: High pathogenicity avian influenza in Guatemala

7 to 9 June 2023

Dr Maria Eugenia Paz, Delegate to WOAH and Director of Animal Health and Regulations of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food of Guatemala, informed WOAH that a simulation exercise on high pathogenicity avian influenza entitled “Simulated response to an avian influenza outbreak, HPAI” will take place in Guatemala from 7 to 9 June 2023.

It will be organized by the Official Veterinary Services of Guatemala through the National Poultry Health Program (PROSA) and its Director Dr Julio Cordón, with the support of the International Regional Agency for Agrofisheries Health, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the National Poultry Farmers Association.

The exercise will involve 105 participants, including official Veterinary Services and Delegates, health personnel from the Ministry of Public Health and Social Welfare, the private sector and other relevant institutions. The exercise will last three days (one day of theoretical training and two days of field activities).

The site for this simulation exercise was carefully selected among the different geographical and productive regions of the country, due to its strategic location and the high risk of infection at the national level due to the eminent risk posed by the flow of migratory birds in the coastal marine wetlands of the Pacific.

Information on the simulation exercise will be shared beforehand; more explicitly, prior to the event, the Communication and Dissemination Coordinator will develop information campaigns on the simulation exercise targeting the community and coordinate with the local media, to avoid instilling fear within the population and to avoid the confusion and false implications that might ensue when a simulated event is considered as real.

The exercise is proposed as a preparation tool for an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza in the country. The aim is to verify the responsiveness of the different institutions or individuals involved and the effectiveness of the actions established in the Manual of Procedures. This exercise will be a means of identifying opportunities for improving this Manual of Procedures, through the creation of the corresponding corrective actions if needed.

The general objectives of this exercise are to determine the capacity to respond to an HPAI outbreak, considering the potential risks for Guatemalan poultry farming and to test inter-institutional collaboration within the framework of “One Health” and with the various actors involved in the production chain of the national poultry sector.

The specific objectives of this exercise are to:

  • Evaluate, improve and identify weaknesses in the Manual of Procedures.
  • Strengthen communication channels and relationships between the key actors involved in HPAI outbreaks.
  • Support decision-making for those individuals involved in the response to an HPAI outbreak.
  • Raise awareness among stakeholders of the inter- and intra-sectoral roles involved in the response to an HPAI outbreak.

World Animal Health Information and Analysis Department (WAHIAD), World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH), [email protected].