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The 15th Conference of the Regional Commission for Africa of the OIE.

Maputo (Mozambique), February 2003 . The 15th Conference of the Regional Commission for Africa of the OIE, the World Organisation for Animal Health, was held in Maputo (Mozambique) from 18 to 21 February 2003.

The heads of Veterinary Services of all African countries, as well as numerous donors and international organisations were invited, presented a full review of the animal health status of the Africa region, where the most alarming animal diseases and zoonoses continue to be endemic.

Special attention was focused on two specific issues:

1. The importance of livestock movement control and identification to the promotion of animal disease control and facilitation of trade

Livestock identification and the management of livestock movements are vital for controlling animal diseases and for giving Member Countries access to markets in animals and animal products. International standards have been established under the SPS Agreement of the World Trade Organization (WTO). The WTO has mandated the OIE to establish trade standards for livestock and derivative products. For most African countries, it is a major challenge to implement them as their Veterinary Services have limited resources and capabilities. The support of the international community is essential in resolving these issues, notably in application of the Doha Declaration.

2. The role of animal disease control in poverty alleviation and food safety strategies in Sub-Saharan Africa

The expert speaker on this topic, representing the World Bank, established that animal disease prevention should be a key factor in policies for reducing poverty, for food safety and quality and for access to regional and international markets.

The Conference concluded that the importance of animal disease prevention programmes justified large-scale national and international investment in view of the unfavourable health situation in the African region and the economic and social benefits it would bring.

The partnership for the development of livestock production in Africa initiated by the World Bank (the ALIVE programme) will, therefore, need to include a major health component, the details of which have to be discussed with the OIE Regional Commission and Representation for Africa, as well as with the Director General of the OIE, Dr. Bernard Vallat.

The Recommendations made at the conclusion of this Conference will strengthen cooperation between African countries and lead to the implementation of concrete measures in Africa to more effectively control animal diseases, protect public health and improve access to regional and international markets in animals and animal products. This should be done while protecting all other countries that already eradicated those diseases.

The 16th OIE Regional Conference for Africa will take place in Sudan, in February 2005.

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