The South Asia Regional One Health Symposium was officially opened with an exciting traditional Bhutanese Marchang ceremony held in the dramatic Zhiwa Ling main foyer. The Chief Guest for the Inaugural Session was His Excellency Lyonpo Damcho Dorji, the Honorable Minister of Home and Cultural Affairs for Bhutan.
After blessings from the Lopen and monks of the Paro Dzong, the delegates were welcomed by Dr Tashi Samdup, Director of the Department of Livestock, and Dr Eric Neumann, Director of the One Health Regional Training Program that has been implemented across South Asia since 2010. Minister Lyonpo Damcho Dorji then delivered a keynote address focused on the importance of concentrating on zoonotic and emerging diseases across the South Asia Region and praising the work done through this project in building an effective professional network of animal and human health experts, and increasing the capacity of government institutions to respond to and manage the occurrence of important zoonotic diseases.
Dr Kinzang Dukpa, Program Director at the Bhutan National Centre for Animal Health, closed the ceremony with a Vote of Thanks to the dignitaries, special guests, Bhutanese organising committee members, Massey University project staff, and country delegates and wished everyone a very successful Symposium.
Additional recognition of the support and attendance of Dasho Dzongda Mr Chencho Tshering of Paro District, Dasho Drangpon of Paro District, and Director of Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority Mr Karma Dorji was provided. The further support of Secretary Dasho Nima Wangdi, Ministry of Health, Director General Dasho Dorji Wangchuk, Department of Public Health, Secretary Dasho Sherub Gyaltshen, Ministry of Agriculture and Forests, Director of BAFRA, Director of the Department of Livestock, Drs Karma Lhazeen, Sonam Wangchuk, and Kinzung Dukpa and other members of the local organising committee, and the Officer in Charge of BAFRA at Paro International Airport was also acknowledged.