22nd Conference of the OIE Regional Commission for Europe

Lyon ( France ), 25 - 29 September 2006

The 22nd Conference of the Regional Commission for Europe of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) was held in Lyon (France) from on the 25th to 29th of September 2006 and was kindly hosted b y t the Government of the Republic of France .

The Conference was chaired by Dr Monique Eloit, the OIE Delegate for France and Dr  Nikola Belev, President of the OIE Regional Commission for Europe and OIE Regional Representative for Eastern Europe. The representative of the Minister of Agriculture of France, Mr Jean-Marc Bournigal, The President of the OIE International Committee, Dr Barry O ‘ Neil, the Director General of the OIE , Dr  Bernard Vallat, Delegates of OIE Member Countries, representatives of international and regional organisations and observers also attended the Conference.

The Conference was held at the “French National School of Veterinary Services (ENSV)” in the city of Lyon , which is the birthplace of the first veterinary school of the world and which also hosts the OIE Collaborating Centre for the Training of Official Veterinarians (ENSV) .

In his speech, Mr Jean-Marc Bournigal, Director General, Food Directorate, France, representing the Minister of Agriculture of France, commended the role of the OIE in the international control of animal diseases and zoonoses. He mentioned that despite the diversity in climate and animal husbandry systems within Europe, global risks of disease spread remain the same. He stated that “ it would be a mistake for European countries to continue to think that they are going to remain historically free from certain diseases .”

Two technical items were discussed during the Conference:

  • the illegal smuggling of animals and animal products ;
  • the role of veterinarians and livestock owners in the early detection of and rapid response to animal diseases .

These two items are of particular significance considering the current international scene dominated by the occurrence of avian influenza in the world and of other emerging and re-emerging animal diseases such as bluetongue in Europe.

Participants recalled the role played by legal trade and illegal trade in poultry and poultry products for human consumption in the spread of H5N1 virus and emphasized the need for countries to strengthen their controls at borders and to reinforce their Veterinary Services. Recommendations were adopted during the conference, one dealing specifically illegal smuggling of animals and animal products. The role played by the OIE at global level in the control of avian influenza was highly appreciated, particularly its capacity to go beyond the specific veterinary framework to encompass public health and other social and environmental issues.

The recent outbreaks of bluetongue in The Netherlands, Belgium, France and Germany – the most northern latitude where the disease has ever been diagnosed – has again stressed the importance of having effective national surveillance systems to be able to detect early and respond rapidly to an unexpected disease event.

Recalling the significant potential impact of emerging and re-eme rging diseases on public health and rural and national economies, Dr Vallat remarked: “Veterinary Services are now recognised as a global public good. They provide the first line of defence against animal diseases, including those transmissible to humans. Strengthening Veterinary Services using the Performance, Vision and Strategy (PVS) tool must therefore, be considered a priority for public inv estments worldwide .”

The OIE Regional Commission expressed its appreciation and gratitude to the support provided by the OIE to Member Countries of the Region and strongly supported the actions being undertaken by the OIE to promote the control of animal diseases and zoonoses worldwide and in the region.

All recommendations adopted by the conference will be submitted for consideration and adoption during the next OIE General Assembly, in May 2007.