A one-million-dollar grant to boost Indonesia’s exotic animal disease testing capability will help protect Australia from diseases like lumpy skin disease (LSD) and foot and mouth disease (FMD).
The grant from the Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry to CSIRO’s Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness (ACDP) is part of the Albanese Government’s collaborative, regional approach to combating highly contagious animal diseases which could have severe consequences for Australia’s animal health and trade.
It comes as part of the Australian Government’s $134 million investment in new, long-term biosecurity funding to bolster Australia’s response to exotic diseases like FMD and LSD.
Some of the measures introduced include $9 million towards border response with an extra frontline biosecurity officers and redeployment of detection dogs to Cairns and Darwin, and $5.9 million to provide four million FMD vaccine doses to Indonesia.
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Murray Watt said the grant would enable staff from the CSIRO to work with Indonesia’s Ministry of Agriculture to enhance their laboratory capability for disease diagnostics.
“Australia remains free from both foot and mouth disease and lumpy skin disease,” Minister Watt said.
“But it is critical we continue support our close neighbours to prevent or respond effectively to these diseases which can have a devastating effect on their food security and economic wellbeing.
“Helping our close neighbours in this way also has a flow on protective effect to Australia and other countries in our region.
“Our strong partnerships with countries such as Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Timor-Leste is helping us to continue to safeguard our agriculture sector and the industries on which it relies.
“This is one more way we are working to ensure our biosecurity system continues to protect the prosperity of our farmers, producers, and rural communities.”
The funding will help build laboratory proficiency testing systems in Indonesia for FMD and LSD.
The Indonesian Ministry of Agriculture manages the network of Disease Investigation Centres, including the national reference laboratories for these diseases.
The proficiency testing system for FMD and LSD will allow the Disease Investigation Centre network to test the quality of their diagnostics and identify areas to strengthen their capability.
CSIRO Chief Executive Dr Larry Marshall said ACDP played a critical role in protecting Australia from the pandemic and building future resilience against biosecurity threats.
“As the national science agency, CSIRO’s national labs support Team Australia as part of a regional network to help both Australia and neighbouring partners like Indonesia to respond to these threats through accurate identification and detection in real time,” Dr Marshall said.
“There is no better way to tackle global threats than through global collaboration – by helping strengthen the biosecurity of our Indo-Pacific neighbours, and in turn bolstering Australia’s own protection against the most pressing animal disease threats to our nation.”
Through the project, ACDP staff will work with Indonesian laboratories to produce control materials that can be safely distributed among all government laboratories in the Indonesian network, to ensure the accuracy and consistency of their diagnostic testing.
ACDP will also train the national reference laboratories to assess and analyse the results of the proficiency testing program to identify areas of improvement and conduct training to address these gaps.