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Conference of Animal Health Services in the Middle East

The 5th Conference of the Regional Commission of the Office International des Epizooties (OIE) for the Middle East was held in Muscat (Sultanate of Oman) from 3 to 6 October 1999.

This Conference, to which all of the Heads of Veterinary Services in the region were invited, drew up a comprehensive report on the animal health situation and discussed the problems associated with the implementation of the World Trade Organization Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, and animal identification.

  • The main diseases affecting animals since the beginning of 1999, acting as a barrier to international trade with the Middle East, are the following:

Foot and mouth disease, type O virus, affected herds of cattle and sheep in several countries in the region, including Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, the Sultanate of Oman, the Palestinian National Authority, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Yemen. In Turkey and Iran, type A virus was also isolated, and type Asia 1 virus was identified in Iran.

Peste des petits ruminants was reported in Iraq, Jordan, the Sultanate of Oman, the Palestinian National Authority and Saudi Arabia.

Bluetongue was reported in Turkey in July and August.

Sheep pox is present in several countries in the region, as is Newcastle disease in birds, brucellosis and tuberculosis in ruminants, rabies (domestic and wild animals) and echinococcosis/hydatidosis in carnivores.

Scrapie was reported in Cyprus, and contagious caprine pleuropneumonia in Kuwait.

All of these diseases lead to severe financial losses. They pose a permanent threat to other regions, especially the countries of south-eastern Europe and central Asia.

However, certain other diseases appear to be well under control, in particular rinderpest and contagious bovine pleuropneumonia, or to have disappeared, such as Rift Valley fever, lumpy skin disease and African horse sickness.

  • The two technical items discussed during the Conference related to:
    • The Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (known as the SPS Agreement) concluded at the time of the inauguration of the World Trade Organization (WTO), will have a very substantial impact on trade in animals and animal products in the Middle East, where such trade is highly developed. The participants at the Conference, therefore, decided to increase their efforts to inform the relevant national authorities about this Agreement and to make available the necessary resources to apply it in the region.
    • Animal identification systems are one of the key tools for implementing the SPS Agreement, as its provisions include reinforcing epidemiological surveillance of animal diseases and tracking live animals involved in international trade. The participants thus agreed on the need to harmonise the identification of animals in each country, in order to facilitate commercial trade, whilst safeguarding animal health and public health in the region.
  • The application of the Oman Conference recommendations will be greatly facilitated by the establishment of a Regional Representation of the OIE for the Middle East in Beirut (Lebanon). The activities of this Representation are coordinated by Dr Ghazi Yehya and programmed in liaison with the Regional Commission of the OIE for the Middle East, chaired by Dr S. Sultan Al-Khalaf (Kuwait).

Following the Conference, Dr S. Sultan Al-Khalaf and Dr Jean Blancou, Director General of the OIE, together with Dr Ahmed bin Khalfan Al Razahi, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, were received by His Highness Sayyid Fahd bin Mahmoud Al Saïd, Deputy Prime Minister of the Council of Ministers of the Sultanate of Oman. Discussions were held with regard to the problems linked to safeguarding animal health in trade of animals and animal products in the Middle East.

Contact : Maria Zampaglione

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