Press Release

FAO improves Animal Health Services and Disease Surveillance in Iraq

03 September 2023

Training of Trainers workshop on Laboratory Techniques

September 3rd 2023, Baghdad, Iraq – In a significant step towards improving animal health services and animal disease diagnosis in Iraq, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources-KRI (MoAWR-KRI), has launched the “Laboratory techniques training workshop” in Iraq. This initiative marks a pivotal partnership that underscores the commitment of FAO and governmental bodies to addressing crucial challenges. The project entitled “Improving Delivery of Animal Health Services and Disease Surveillance in Iraq “is funded by the United States Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA).

Held at the Central Veterinary Laboratory/Veterinary Directorate in Baghdad from August 25 to September 1, 2023, the workshop gathered twenty-two participants from Baghdad, Erbil, Duhok, Ninawa, Muthanna, Basra, Anbar, and Wassit veterinary laboratories.

The training aimed to enhance participants' competencies and skills in laboratory techniques for the diagnosis of priority animal diseases, while deepening their understanding of various diagnostic methods.

The workshop delved into various diagnostic techniques for viral, bacterial, and parasitic animal diseases, the training encompassed sample collection, serological, and molecular methodologies. Short summaries for some priority animal diseases were presented and discussed and practical sessions demonstrated the application of these techniques in real-world scenarios.

During the closing session, FAO Representative in Iraq, Dr. Salah El Hajj Hassan, stressed that, “The rapid and accurate diagnosis of animal diseases can be ensured in fully equipped laboratories that have a range of standardized diagnostic reagents, experienced staff and a sufficient throughput of diagnostic specimens to maintain expertise. Building and maintaining the technical capacity of laboratory staff is a key element in this process.   Equipping veterinary laboratory personnel with the necessary skills and knowledge, will better prepare them to diagnose animal diseases diagnosis and protect the human and animal health” through the One Health approach.

By harnessing expertise from different regions, the workshop underscores the spirit of cooperation between FAO and Iraqi government agencies in strengthening animal health services and surveillance. The comprehensive approach of this project is in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, particularly SDG 3 (Good Health and Well-Being) and SDG 17 (Partnerships for the Goals).

Khawla Ben Aicha

Khawla Ben Aicha

Communications Specialist
Salah Elhajjhassan

Salah Elhajjhassan

Mr Hajj Hassan, a national of Lebanon, holds a Ph.D. in Plant Production from the University of Agriculture, Damascus, Syria; a Master of Science degree in Plant Production and a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Engineering, both from the American University of Beirut, Lebanon.
He started his career in 1984, as Senior Research Assistant in the Agricultural Research and Education Centre (AREC), American University of Beirut. From 1987 to 1991, he was Coordinator of the Student Training Programme, and also Agriculture and Horticultural Teacher for the Faculty of Agriculture, at the Lebanese University.
From 1991 to 1995, he worked as Agricultural Engineer at the Ministry of Agriculture, Bekaa Regional Office, Zahlah and was then assigned to the Agricultural Research Institute in the Tal Amara station, first as Head of the Crop Production Department and subsequently in charge of the Plant Protection Laboratory. From 2002 to 2006, he was Director of the Kfardane Research Station (Agricultural Research Institute). In 2008, he became Visiting Scientist at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT) and Coordinator of a project with the International Centre for Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna.
In 2010, he served as Advisor to the Minister for Agriculture of Lebanon. In 2011, he became President of the Pesticide Scientific Committee, Head of the Phytoplasma Committee and Director of the Agriculture and Rural Development Programme (ARDP) (EU-funded project). From 2010 to 2013, he represented Lebanon in negotiations with EU, Egypt, Jordan and Iraq. During his career, Mr Hajj Hassan also carried out a number of other functions. He represented the Lebanese Agricultural Research Institute (LARI) in several research programmes with the International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) and the American University of Beirut. He was Coordinator of the Mashreq/Maghreb project with ICARDA, representing Lebanon in the Steering Committee, as well as being the Head of the Sugar-beet Delivery and of the Wheat Delivery Committees. For a number of years, Mr Hajj Hassan worked for the preparation of FAO TCP projects and served as the National Director of a TCP project. He joined FAO in January 2014 as FAO Representative in Yemen. Mr Hajj Hassan succeeds Mr El Zubi as FAO Representative in Iraq.

UN entities involved in this initiative

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Goals we are supporting through this initiative