Linking Epidemiology and Laboratory Research on Transboundary Animal Diseases and Zoonoses in EU and China

Experiences when organising webinars in China

Shuo Li, FAO Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD) China

Over the past two years, LinkTADs has successfully organized several webinars on various topics in the field of animal health, which cover disease outbreak investigation, prevention and control of rabies, surveillance of H7N9 avian influenza and antimicrobial resistance. The selection of topics was done in consultation with LinkTADs partners and other Chinese stakeholders. The audiences of these webinars were mainly from national and local laboratories, animal disease control centres, universities and research institutes. The feedback has been mostly positive apart from reports from some people that they experienced technical difficulties when logging in. This can be a serious issue unless participants ensure a reliable and strong internet connection.

Webinars are not yet common in China, especially those involving international collaboration. This is particularly due to the restrictions imposed on internet in China, as well as unstable internet conditions. However, the advantages of these web-based lectures and real-time discussions are obvious and widely appreciated: it is much easier to organize a webinar compared to a face-to-face meeting, it is time and cost effective, and it is significantly easier to reach a larger audience all over the world.

At this moment, it seems that academics, scientists and students are very willing to attend/deliver presentations in a webinar. However, it is not popular among government officials and decision makers. It appears that these groups of people, who are mainly involved in important policy making and implementation in China, are particularly careful about their on-line activities, especially when it is relates to expressing their ideas on policies and/or the country’s situation. Apparently, face-to-face meetings are preferred for high-level and formal discussions between government officials.

On a final note: If there is a topic on animal health epidemiology or laboratory that could benefit from a webinar, please let us know by emailing