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G8 leaders recognise the fundamental role of the OIE and animal health services in the fight against infectious diseases

In their commitment to improve international cooperation on the surveillance and monitoring of infectious animal diseases G8 leaders supported and encouraged better coordination between the animal and human health communities as pledged by the OIE, FAO and UK Office of Science and Innovation in a joint paper submitted to the Russian Presidency of this year's Summit (the whole statement can be found on the G8 website).

“The Summit recognised animal health services stand at the very core of global surveillance, monitoring and rapid response mechanisms to infectious animal diseases including those transmissible to humans and, totally in line with OIE's efforts, ex presse d full support to their reinforcement worldwide”, Bernard Vallat, OIE Director General, commented.

The G8 stressed the need to build up laboratory capacities, share virus strain samples between countries and focus on work with relevant international organisations in the mitigation of animal and public health emergencies, including natural or intentional disasters, and in capacity building activities.

Specifically looking at the highly pathogenic avian influenza and global preparedness for a possible human pandemic, G8 leaders recognised the importance of dealing with zoonoses at the animal source. They took a stance on: strengthening of Veterinary Services worldwide, monitoring of the wild animal population, enhancing early virus detection and research, supporting outbreak containment plans through the teaching of livestock owners to improve good farming practices.

The G8 also highlighted the leading roles of OIE and sister organisations FAO and WHO in preparing for a potential human pandemic of highly pathogenic avian influenza. It welcomed the joint initiatives recently launched in the fields of information sharing, global emergency response and joint interventions through the development of the Global Early Warning and Response System (GLEWS) platform and the FAO/OIE Global Crisis Management Centre that has been established to attend to global disease threats such as Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza and similar disease threats of global importance.

Eventually, the Group of Eight called upon donors “to honour commitments made at the Beijing Pledging Conference on Avian and Pandemic Influenza (held in January 2006) and to do so in a timely fashion”; $1.9 billion were promised at the conference to fight avian influenza and to cope with a possible human influenza pandemic.

In June of this year national senior officials confirmed these financial resources at the VIENNA SOM meeting (Senior Officials Meeting). OIE together with international organisations called for more funds in order to effectively control the spread of the H5N1 virus that since the Beijing conference had reached most of Europe as well as the African continent.

In December another global pledging conference is scheduled in Bamako , Mali to reinforce again the global fight against avian influenza in animals as well as pandemic prevention.