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Avian Influenza International Ministerial Conference consolidated OIE approach Sharm El Sheikh, 25-26 October 2008

Paris, 03 November 2008 – The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) welcomes the conclusions and vision of the future of the International Ministerial Conference on Avian and Pandemic Influenza (Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt; October 25-26 2008) as a consolidation of the views shared with sister organisations such as the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the World Health Organisation (WHO), the UNICEF and with the World Bank..

The delegation of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) was headed by its Director General Dr Bernard Vallat. He warned in his opening address:

“….any final eradication programme of H5N1 in poultry must be linked with incentives for improvement of poultry production and control of other poultry diseases at backyard-owners level and this programme must be supported by the international community, focusing on the last few countries with an endemic situation.”

He also spoke of the possibility of cross infections whereby infected humans could re-introduce the pandemic strain into animals, as a critical aspect of the global human pandemic preparedness. These cross infections would complicate the eradication of the disease in both human and animals and justify an increased cooperation between veterinary and medical services.

Furthermore, Dr Vallat insisted on the current efficient monitoring of the situation in both animal and human sectors thanks to Member Countries’ efforts in the field of surveillance and early detection of diseases.

It was agreed that a better understanding of the drivers and causes around the emergence and spread of infectious diseases is needed under the broad perspective of the ‘One World, One Health’ (OWOH) principles, which have been developed jointly by the four specialized agencies FAO, OIE, WHO, UNICEF - and by the World Bank and the UN System Influenza Coordinator (UNSIC) - in response to the recommendation made at the New Delhi international conference on highly pathogenic influenza (HPAI) H5N1 (December 2007).

Dr Vallat highlighted the need to modernise initial and continuous training programmes of both veterinarians and physicians in the field of zoonoses. He announced the organisation by the OIE in Paris, France in October 2009, of a global conference on veterinary education.

The parallel implementation of the existing disease information mechanisms adopted by countries will be necessary: the World Health Organisation International Health Regulations (WHO-IHR) on the human side, the OIE WAHIS notification system for animal diseases, and GLEWS, the common platform of disease information between the WHO, OIE and Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

The Conference allowed for best means and methods to be put in place for the control of the disease in animals worldwide and the prevention of the global threat represented by H5N1 Avian influenza.

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