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Bridging WHO and OIE Tools to better control global health risks at the human-animal interface

The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), jointly with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank, has released a guide for national public health authorities and national animal health authorities represented by Veterinary Services outlining methods for strengthening the good governance of health systems worldwide: “WHO-OIE Operational Framework for Good governance at the human-animal interface: Bridging WHO and OIE tools for the assessment of national capacities”.

Paris, 3 October 2014 - More than 60% of human infectious diseases worldwide are caused by pathogens of zoonotic nature, transmitted by domestic or wild animals. The evolution of new and re-emerging pathogens resulting from a multitude of factors represent a growing global threat to human and animal health, food security, food safety, poverty reduction and biodiversity. Therefore, preventing diseases at their animal source is crucial for protecting human health.

Global health is a shared responsibility of both animal and human health authorities. It is a priority that requires the cooperation of all countries and an intersectoral approach. Therefore countries must be equipped with effective and well organised national health systems which operate under the principles of good governance in order to monitor both animal and public health.

The WHO and the OIE are the reference intergovernmental organisations for public and animal health. They develop, publish and constantly review intergovernmental regulations and standards, not only for disease prevention and control methods but also regarding the quality of national animal and public health systems.

Coordinating the effective implementation of these standards at the national, regional and global levels with an efficient cooperation between Veterinary and Public Health Services is one of the most critical factor for controlling health hazards worldwide.

The WHO and the OIE are committed to supporting their Member Countries to strengthen their capacity to comply with both OIE intergovernmental standards and WHO International Health Regulations (IHR). They have respectively developed frameworks and tools to help their Member Countries to assess the capacities of their animal and human health sectors, enabling the identification of gaps and leading to the definition of appropriate strategies. This is notably the aim of the OIE’s Performance of Veterinary Services (PVS) Pathway; it is through this process that the OIE assists its 180 Member Countries to sustainably improve their Veterinary Services’ compliance with OIE intergovernmental standards on quality, while supporting Member Countries to formulate their internal or external financial requests for appropriate resources allowing to comply with international standards.

With the support of the World Bank, and of the European Union (Avian and Human Influenza Facility, with the World Bank acting as administrator of this Trust Fund), the WHO and the OIE have developed the guide to assist Member Countries develop better coordinated programmes to address national health risks at the human-animal interface. The guide also provides a comprehensive overview and understanding of all the tools available in the context of the IHR Monitoring Framework and the OIE PVS Pathway and furthermore explains how to use these tools to create bridges and meet “One Health” objectives, of which the OIE and the WHO are active promoters with the support of FAO.

Over the past year, the OIE and WHO have organised a series of national pilot workshops with national key players in order to assess preliminary results in real conditions.

Our joint WHO-OIE national workshops have been proven to facilitate better cooperation between public health authorities and Veterinary Services. Ebola, influenza, and West Nile Virus are all diseases of animal origin. They have emerged first in developing countries which have not had the capacity to implement the OIE standards to detect, prevent and respond to these diseases. With appropriate support in the management of health risks at the human-animal interface, animal and public health systems can be sustainably improved, hence efficiently preventing global health risks” declares Dr Bernard Vallat, OIE Director General.

Based on the success of these experiences, the two organisations are considering expanding the implementation of further national workshops worldwide.

Consult the OIE-WHO Operational framework for Good governance at the human-animal interface.

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