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Meeting between the Director General of the World Health Organization
and the Director General of the Office International des Epizooties

On Monday, 7 June 1999, Gro Harlem Brundtland, the Director General of the World Health Organization and Dr Jean Blancou, Director General of the Office International des Epizooties (OIE), met at the WHO headquarters in Geneva (Switzerland).

This meeting took place within the framework of the cooperation agreement signed between the two organisations on 4 and 8 August 1960. The agreement stipulates that the two organisations will keep each other informed of all projects and working programmes of potential interest to the two parties.

Dr David Heymann (Executive Director, Communicable Diseases), Dr Lindsay Martinez (Director, Department of Communicable Disease Surveillance and Response) and Dr François-Xavier Meslin (Coordinator for Animal and Food related Public Health Risks) also participated in debates on the current conditions for cooperation between the two organisations. This ongoing cooperation is harmonised at annual meetings between representatives of the WHO, the OIE and the FAO aimed at preventing duplication of the efforts of the three organisations and reinforcing and coordinating the services rendered to their Member countries.

A number of recent crises in the animal feed chain, associated with livestock production, has revealed a need to attach greater importance to public health protection within this field. Setting up organisations at national level to ensure closer collaboration between public health services and those responsible for veterinary controls within the sector should provide better guarantees, as well as responding to the growing demands from consumers. As a result, in the near future we can expect a more significant contribution from veterinarians on public health issues.

They went on to discuss the general guidelines for collaboration between the WHO and the OIE over the next five years. The two Directors agreed to combine their efforts and to coordinate their i nitiatives in several fields likely to be increasingly important over the next five years: combating existing zoonoses and monitoring emerging zoonoses, monitoring animal products destined for human consumption, monitoring and control of the resistance of bacteria to anti-microbial products, the use of genetically modified organisms for the prevention and treatment of diseases and the use of animal tissue transplants in humans.

Contact : Maria Zampaglione