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OIE, World organisation for animal health - 69th annual General Session of the International Committee

27 May - 1 June 2001

The 69th annual General Session of the International Committee of the Office international des épizooties was held in Paris from 27 May until 1 June 2001. Approximately 500 participants, representing 140 countries or territories, 11 intergovernmental organisations, as well as several other bodies were present. Six Ministers of Agriculture (Bulgaria, Colombia, France, Lebanon, Somalia and Uruguay) participated.

A report on trends in the different diseases and epizootics in the world was drawn up, with the emphasis on "List A" diseases, the most dreaded for animal health, and sometimes human health, as well as for the world economy and international trade. The most important epidemiological events that have occurred in the world are reported in the document attached to this press release. The Committee also adopted the recommendations drawn up by the recent international conference on foot and mouth disease organised by the OIE and the FAO, in particular aspects associated with the use of vaccination and safeguarding rare or precious animals in infected countries. It also noted the organisation in June, by the OIE, the WHO and the FAO, of an international scientific conference reporting on the latest methods for combating BSE and the risks being run by consumers.

The work of the Session focused mainly on the following points:

The five-year work programme set out by the Director General was adopted on the basis of the OIE third strategic plan for the period from 2001 to 2005. The work programme reinforces the traditional priority tasks of the OIE: international animal health information, drawing up health standards, guidelines for the prevention and eradication of animal diseases and zoonoses, coordination of veterinary research and the dissemination of knowledge, veterinary service status, in addition to other actions for combating zoonoses and food-borne diseases, standards for animal welfare and the tasks of international solidarity and regional coordination.

In the field of scientific support, the Committee accepted applications from 4 new OIE reference laboratories. The task of the reference laboratories is complemented by the obligation immediately to inform the Director of the Veterinary Services of the Member Country that sent the samples to the reference laboratory. It also adopted several resolutions concerning the health status of certain Member Countries for foot and mouth disease and the Committee asked the Specialised Commission to agree on the process of assessing the BSE health status of countries that wished to have such an assessment

As for drawing up international health standards, it should be noted that there are new editions of the OIE International Animal Health Code and the Manual, standards texts used to promote the harmonisation of regulations applicable to trade in animals and animal products, and that during the Session the Committee updated new chapters or annexes of the Code, in particular the one on BSE.

The Committee also debated the international solidarity mission of the organisation. The OIE will set up an emergency fund for developing countries on the African continent in the context of PACE (the Pan-African Programme for the Control of Epizootics on the continent) and will pursue similar actions for the control of foot and mouth disease in South East Asia.

The Committee also discussed the two technical themes below:

The importance of emerging diseases for public and animal health and for trade

Emerging animal diseases are the cause of livestock production, trade and public health problems throughout the world. Confronted with the development of such diseases, the Member Countries are trying to set up the means for their effective control. 66 countries reported infectious outbreaks due to one or more emerging diseases during the past five years. Some of these have repercussions on public health. The great majority of Member Countries support the creation of a new centralised system for the coordination of information and training concerning these new diseases. The OIE should be a key player in this future system.

The role of communication management in providing assistance for Veterinary Services

Information and communication management is now a strategic factor in the effectiveness of Veterinary Services. In the context of trade globalisation, the growing sensitivity of consumers to animal and food-borne diseases, the growth in international trade in animal products and the resulting need for knowledge and information, Veterinary Services are being forced to boost their capacity and their human and technical resources to meet these needs.

Whilst stressing the continuing inadequacy of appropriate resources, the responses of Member Countries point to a lack of methodological and technical training for the managers of Veterinary Services in these fields and express a concern for greater professionalisation of communication management and practices.

In these various domains, there is a desire for support from the OIE and, where appropriate, from the financial organisations that specialise in helping developing countries.


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