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25th Conference of the OIE Regional Commission for Europe

Fleesensee, 18 September 2012 – High-ranking officials from OIE Member Countries in Europe and from international, regional and national governmental and non-governmental organisations discussed several key issues in the field of animal health and animal welfare, including the animal welfare approach and the role of wildlife in animal disease control in the region at the 25th Conference of the OIE Regional Commission for Europe, held in Fleesensee (Germany) from 17 to 21 September 2012.

Common animal welfare approach in Europe

During the Conference, the participants discussed the need for western and eastern European countries to work together and share best practices to achieve the progressive and harmonious implementation of OIE animal welfare standards at regional level.

“Animal welfare has long been an important subject for countries of Europe, which was the first region in the world to recognize its significance. However, the 51 Member Countries of the European region, as per defined by the OIE, shows contrasting levels of implementation of animal welfare policies in national legislation,” said Dr Bernard Vallat, Director General of the OIE.

At the previous OIE Seminar for national focal points on Animal Welfare held in Kiev in March 2012, the participants expressed the wish to achieve sustainable compliance with OIE standards on animal health and welfare, and called on the OIE to develop a mechanism in the sub-region to facilitate better implementation of OIE animal welfare standards.

A recommendation was made during the Conference to implement a new effective cooperation among Members of the Regional Commission for Europe on the subject of animal welfare.

“Success lies in the empowerment of national Veterinary Services, which need appropriate tools, such as legislation, capacity building and adequate financial and human resources in the field of animal welfare implementation. The OIE pledged to bring support to all of its Members through the engagement of its Regional Representations, the PVS Pathway and the support of the European Union”, emphasised Dr Karin Schwabenbauer, President of the OIE Council.

The role of wildlife in the control of domestic animal diseases

The Conference also addressed the persistence of pathogens transmissible from wildlife as it makes it very hard to control some diseases in domestic animals. “The role played by wildlife in the world epidemiological situation is more and more demonstrated. We want to better manage risks in wildlife for the control of disease in domestic animals and for preservation of biodiversity but this brings many challenges,” OIE Director General, Dr Bernard Vallat said.

The Conference reached a consensus that recognises the great complexity of the transmission of infectious diseases between domestic animals and wildlife populations. It also assessed the need for further studies on how to put efficient monitoring systems in place, taking into account that support to national Veterinary Services is pivotal especially when it applies to strengthening their surveillance and response capacities.

The need for implementing biosecurity measures to reduce contact between wild and domestic animals was also considered as a priority. 

The Conference was kindly hosted by the Government of Germany. The Honourable Ilse Aigner, Federal Minister of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection, opened the Conference, which was chaired by Dr Karin Schwabenbauer, Director of the Veterinary Services of Germany, OIE Delegate of Germany and elected chairperson of the OIE with the support of the OIE Headquarters and the OIE Regional Representation for Europe.

 

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