Veterinarians who play a key role in dealing with zoonotic disease outbreaks are often at risk of exposure to zoonotic pathogens. Cambodia has had several zoonotic disease outbreaks recently including avian influenza, rabies, and leptospirosis. However, many of the veterinarians in Cambodia have not received appropriate biosafety training and do not have access to adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). This increases the risk of zoonotic disease spillover or spread and jeopardises public health and the economy both in Cambodia and regionally.

Cambodia Biosafety and Sample Collection Training

Conservation Medicine has a long history of building One Health biosafety and biosecurity capacity in South East Asia. As part of this effort, Conservation Medicine was invited to assist with the Cambodia Biosafety and Sample Collection Training for Veterinarians that was co-organised by the Cambodian National Animal Health and Production Research Institute (NAHPRI) and Mahidol-Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit (MORU). This event aimed to provide biosafety and biosecurity training to 63 field veterinarians from 25 districts in Cambodia – one of the biggest trainings programmes ever organised by NAHPRI and MORU in the country.

"Without appropriate biosafety training and adequate Personal Protective Equipment, the risk of zoonotic disease spillover increases and jeopardises public health and the economy"

Practical biosafety and biosecurity training and lectures in Siem Reap

Conservation Medicine’s Field Coordinator Jimmy, Senior Ranger Ronald and Ranger Shahrul were on site to help conduct the training from 15-17 March 2022 in Siem Reap, Cambodia. The training provided by Conservation Medicine included biosafety and biosecurity lectures, conducting respirator Fit Tests to ensure all participants are using respirators that properly protect them, a PPE donning and doffing wet lab, risk assessment activities and group discussions to help participants improve their understanding of biosafety and biosecurity.

Cambodia Biosafety and Sample Collection Training

Participants practicing donning and doffing of PPE during a wet lab session in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Animal sample collection training in the field

In addition to the lectures and practical training, participants had an opportunity to apply their skills in the field as they were required to conduct animal sampling at a local abattoir, adhering to biosafety and biosecurity protocols. This allowed the participants to practice the skills they had learnt and developed during the training in a field setting, an important part of the training to ensure that participants could remember the skills they had been taught and protocols they needed to follow in the challenging working environment of an abattoir.

Cambodia Biosafety and Sample Collection Training

Conservation Medicine, NAHPRI and MORU teams conducting animal sampling at a local abattoir located in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Photo: Theng Heng LACATH4 Cambodia Project Coordinator Assistant

Helping to expand biosafety and biosecurity in Cambodia

The training was well received with all the veterinarians participating enthusiastically and committing to sharing what they had learnt with their colleagues in Cambodia, helping to expand biosafety and biosecurity capacity in the country.

Cambodia Biosafety and Sample Collection Training

Participant in full PPE collecting a blood sample from a pig at the abattoir according to appropriate biosafety and biosecurity protocols