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76th Annual General Session of the International Committee of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)

25 – 30 May 2008

Paris, May 30 2008 - Approximately 600 participants representing the 172 OIE Member Countries and Territories, intergovernmental (FAO, WHO, World Bank, WTO etc.), regional and national organisations took part in the 76 th Annual General Session of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)

The Session was honoured by the presence of high-ranking authorities, including numerous Ministers of OIE Members.

Official OIE sanitary status recognition of Members

The International Committee approved the 2008 list of countries or zones that had applied for an official OIE recognition of their sanitary status concerning one or several of four priority diseases: bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), foot and mouth disease, contagious bovine pleuropneumonia (CBPP) and rinderpest.

“Applications are studied following a very democratic process that involves renowned international experts, the elected members of the OIE Scientific Commission for Animal Diseases and finally, possibility for all 172 Members Delegates to put all propositions in question,” OIE Director General Dr Bernard Vallat reminded the members of the International Committee.

This year the OIE recognized a record number of sanitary statuses on BSE. Following the recognition of 30 Members this week, the OIE now recognizes 41 Members as having a “controlled risk” or a “negligible risk” status..

The OIE is the sole world organisation to grant an official status on freedom from specified animal diseases including BSE.

Five Members or zones of Members were newly recognized as free of FMD with or without vaccination.

The OIE granted 13 new national free statuses on rinderpest. The organisation reiterated the objective, shared with the FAO, to declare the world free of rinderpest in the short term.

Food security

The International Committee stressed the strong link existing between the fight against hunger around the world and the fight against animal diseases in particular developing countries and consequently between food security and animal health. A specific resolution was adopted.

The International Committee also reemphasized the importance of the OIE mandate relating to food safety at the production level.

More commitment from OIE Reference Laboratories and Members to the OFFLU network

Delegates adopted a resolution requiring Members reporting outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza to rapidly share biological material and data with the international scientific community. Members are encouraged to use the OIE/FAO OFFLU network as a way of generating and disseminating this information, thus allowing the early preparation of human vaccines.

The Session further insisted that it is mandatory for all OIE Reference Laboratories to gather, process, analyse and disseminate epidemiological data concerning the disease they are responsible for.

Global animal disease notification

The worldwide zoosanitary situation, covering around 100 terrestrial and aquatic animal diseases, was examined in detail.

The Session highlighted that notification of disease outbreaks from Members has dramatically improved since the launch of the new online system WAHIS in 2006. To the benefit of the world epidemiological situation, Members assimilated the system and it meets all expectations regarding the swiftness, number and quality of notification reports.

The WAHID database now captures all the information provided by WAHIS and makes it accessible to everybody worldwide.

Improving of national Veterinary Services, expanding OIE scientific network and diagnostic kits certification

Evaluation missions using the Performance of Veterinary Services tool (PVS) were reported on during the meeting. The missions were so far conducted in 54 Members with the support of several international donors in order to improve animal health management worldwide.

The international Committee accredited the application of five new Collaborating Centres and eight Reference Laboratories, bringing the OIE global network of scientific expertise to a number of 208 worldwide. This network provides OIE Members all updated animal disease control methods permanently.

The International Committee noted that the interest in the OIE Twining Initiative concept of laboratories is growing from both developed countries and, in-transition and developing countries which can use this path to access the OIE network of excellence.

The Session validated the BioChek Avian Influenza Antibody and Prionics® Check Western (BSE) diagnostic kits . Both will be included to the official OIE assays register listed in the OIE Manual 2008.

Nanotechnologies are now subject to OIE standards, guidelines with an addition to the chapter on biotechnology of the OIE Manual of Diagnostic Tests and Vaccines for Terrestrial Animals : “Nanotechnologies in diagnosis and vaccine development”.

Additions to the Terrestrial and Aquatic Animal Health Codes

Consistent with the framework of its usual standard-setting activities the Committee updated and adopted new international standards, aimed at providing better safeguards for the sanitary safety of world trade, as well as guidelines to better implement surveillance of animal diseases and zoonoses worldwide.

Significant standards were also adopted in the field of animal welfare, including a new scientific definition of animal welfare and new guidelines for aquatic animals.

Agreements

Cooperation agreements were adopted with the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), the International Air Transport Association ( IATA), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMOU).

Also, the OIE signed an agreement with the International Poultry Council (IPC) and with t he International Council for Laboratory Animal Science (ICLAS), the last covering further collaboration on common issues of interest related to the welfare of animals used for scientific research.

Technical items

Two technical items were presented and debated during the Session and gave rise to Resolutions passed by the International Committee.

- Participation of small farmers in animal health programmes.

The role of small farmers in the surveillance and early detection of animal diseases is crucial. They must be trained so they can act as key partners of Veterinary Services.

- Implication of private standards in international trade of animals and animal products:

Delegates also tackled the problem of animal health and animal welfare standards established unilaterally by private companies without direct involvement of governments.

Discussions emphasized again that the World Trade Organization, under the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Standards, formally mandates the OIE as the reference organisation responsible for establishing international standards relating to animal diseases, including zoonoses.

May 2008

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