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New Delhi world conference on avian influenza prevention and control: OIE strategies prove relevant and efficient

Paris, December 3 2007 - As the international community prepares for a third international conference on highly pathogenic influenza (HPAI) H5N1 to take place in New Delhi , India the OIE reiterates its strategic approach for tackling the crisis.

60 countries already reported an H5N1 infection in the period 2003-2007 . Up to December 2006 more than 200 million birds were culled or died of the disease and according to the World Health Organisation, so far the human deaths toll is of 206 worldwide. OIE maintains its same strategies prepared and published with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and, announced at the first international conference on HPAI H5N1 held in Geneva in 2005:

  • tackle the disease at animal source,
  • trengthen governance of national Veterinary Services (VS) worldwide,
  • develop early warning and rapid response capacity of VS, among other key actions, in face of outbreaks - a strategy applicable to any major animal disease including zoonoses, not solely HPAI H5N1,
  • develop close collaboration between animal and human health national and international authorities,
  • develop an HPAI H5N1 vaccine bank for developing countries.

2003-2007 , four years of worldwide action

Four years into the HPAI H5N1 international crisis, applied OIE strategies bear fruit and the international community has recognized their relevance. Today, the OIE is accountable for the following actions:

  • A worldwide plan for evaluating the performance of VS is in progress and so far, 42 national missions were conducted using the OIE PVS tool. A total of 105 PVS missions will be finalised by the end of 2009 if adequate funding is available. Outcomes of the evaluations are used to develop a gap analysis that will identify priority investments for countries concerned.
  • Bamako , Mali and Bangkok , Thailand now host the first integrated OIE/FAO Regional Animal Health Centres. These centres coordinate and harmonize capacity building activities and strategies for monitoring and evaluation of avian influenza control at regional level.
  • Increasingly, countries develop compensation schemes. This facilitates the reporting of disease occurrences at grassroots level, i.e. farmers, and outbreaks are swiftly brought under control at their initial source.
  • A number of African countries have received over 23,500,000 vaccines through the OIE H5N1 vaccine bank with the support of partners such as African Union, the European Commission, and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

Additionally, a twinning initiative between OIE Reference Laboratories and laboratories in developing and in transition countries is underway, with already 12 applications in process.

“All OIE activities focus on developing and securing governance of national animal health mechanisms”, said Dr Bernard Vallat, OIE Director General. “HPAI H5N1 is a paradox in that it poses a global threat but also provides an opportunity to develop and improve governance of national Veterinary Services worldwide for facing any future sanitary crises,” he further explained.

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