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Veterinary services in the middle east are strengthening their solidarity

The 7th Conference of the Regional Commission for the Middle East of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) was held in Istanbul (Turkey) from 23 to 26 September 2003.

The Conference, to which all the heads of Veterinary Services in the region, as well as numerous donors and international organisations were invited, presented a full review of the animal health status of the Middle East region, where transmissible diseases of animals are of most concern, as they can act as a barrier to regional and international trade.

During the Conference, special attention was focused on three other issues:

1. Emergency preparedness: formulation and implementation of animal health contingency plans in the Middle East
Animal disease emergency preparedness and particularly contingency planning should be regarded as an essential tool for the control of animal emergency diseases, including those transmissible to humans. Due to its geographical location, the Middle East is under continuous risk of high priority animal diseases from other continents. Many of the countries in the Middle East do not, at present, have well documented contingency plans in place for most of the high priority emergency diseases.
The OIE, through its Regional Representation for the Middle East in Beirut, will provide, when necessary, technical support to the Member Countries of the region, in collaboration with other relevant international and regional organisations,

2. Transmissible encephalopathies of animals with reference to public health and trade in the Middle EastTransmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) of animals are today an international issue of concern due to their public and animal health importance. In particular, cattle and their products and by-products potentially carrying the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) agent have been traded world-wide, giving this risk a global dimension. While TSEs of animals are not known to be a public health problem in the Middle East, Member Countries should be vigilant about the risk from BSE. National and regional surveillance programmes must be developed, following the existing OIE guidelines of the International Animal Health Code.

3. Global rinderpest eradication programme in the Middle East
This is a subject of major importance to the region. Member Countries of the OIE Regional Commission for the Middle East decided to take all necessary actions following the OIE pathway, in order to in the near future be recognised free from rinderpest by the international community.

Further issues included:
" The 4th OIE Strategic Plan (2005-2010) was discussed by Member Countries, in order to identify the position of the OIE Regional Commission for the Middle East, to be presented to the other Member Countries of the OIE." The activities of the Regional Emergency Veterinary Committee for the Middle East, which was established in 2001, related to cases of emergency linked to the possible occurrence of a serious animal disease in the region, proposing to the governments of the countries concerned the necessary measures for combating the disease.

The Recommendations made at the conclusion of this Conference will strengthen cooperation between Middle East countries and lead to the implementation of concrete measures in the region to more effectively control animal diseases, protect public health and improve access to regional and international markets in animals and animal products.