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OIE Reference Laboratories and Collaborating Centres first international conference: networking is crucial to fight animal diseases worldwide

The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) decided to increasingly develop its worldwide network of Reference Laboratories and Collaborating Centres in order to strengthen the global fight of animal diseases, including zoonoses.

Gathered in Florianopolis, Brazil at the kind invitation of the Brazilian government for the “First International Conference of the OIE Reference Laboratories and Collaborating Centres” (3- 5 December 2006 ), Member Countries agreed the networking and the twinning incentive for laboratories would lead to a more even geographical distribution of veterinary scientific expertise.

The network of 180 OIE Reference Laboratories and Collaborating Centres is also a unique source of expertise in setting science-based international standards and its development is key to the prevention and control of animal diseases.

Over 72 percent of OIE Member Countries are developing or in transition with a variable scientific capacity and access to veterinary scientific expertise. The “twinning concept” that would allow the network of existing Reference Laboratories and Collaborating Centres twin with candidate laboratories of developing and in transition countries is therefore essential for enhancing capacities of these countries to participate in the global action in front of emerging diseases.

“Among several of the limitations to stopping the spread of diseases is the lack of a well trained veterinary scientific community in many developing countries for the early detection, reaction and timely notification of disease outbreaks,” Dr Bernard Vallat, OIE Director General said at the conference.

The twinning concept would also enable developing and in transition countries to become scientifically more efficient and to participate on equal footing on the scientific preparation and adoption of OIE standards.

The establishment of more Reference Laboratories and Collaborating Centres worldwide would also render easier access to expertise for rapid detection and diagnosis of diseases. Improving laboratory capacity of countries would notably counter current cost and regulatory limitations relating to the transport of animal samples to be analysed, especially shipment by air.

The second international conference of OIE Reference Laboratories and Collaborating Centres will be held in 2008.

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