The global eradication of Rinderpest gives reason to be optimistic when it comes to fighting infectious animal diseases. While the recent COVID-19 pandemic has shown the devastating impact emerging infectious diseases can have, it is also a reminder of the critical role vaccines can play in protecting us all.

This text was originally published on the iD4D website under Creative Commons BY NC ND 4.0 International License.

For centuries, Rinderpest outbreaks caused the death of millions of cattle, buffalo, yak and wild animals across Africa, Asia and Europe. These outbreaks meant consecutive food shortages resulting in starvation, economic and social unrest, as well as disrupted cattle-powered ploughs used in rural areas to cultivate land. Decades of concerted efforts from governments and local organizations supported by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), along with other partners, resulted in the eradication of Rinderpest through mass vaccination campaigns of cattle. Global victory over this devastating disease was declared in 2011, ten years after the last case had been reported to the OIE.

Towards improved animal health governance

Beyond the remarkable achievement of global Rinderpest eradication itself, what was learnt will benefit generations to come. The history of the fight against the disease was a main driver for the accelerated establishment of national Veterinary Services in numerous countries as well as for the foundation of many veterinary schools. A prime example is the inauguration of the world’s first veterinary school in Lyon, France in 1761, spurring the opening of other schools across Europe. Similarly, in Africa, the first veterinary school was founded in Egypt in 1827 to control Rinderpest. National and regional networks of veterinary laboratories that perform diagnostics and control the quality of vaccines followed suit to tackle Rinderpest. In Asia, the Indian Veterinary Research Institute was established in 1913 to develop a Rinderpest vaccine, while in Africa, the Pan African Veterinary Vaccine Centre of the African Union (AU–PANVAC) began operating in 1986. On a global scale, the devastation caused by the disease was the impetus for the creation of the Office International des Épizooties (OIE) in 1924 – which later became the World Organisation for Animal Health. These structures, institutions and organizations laid the important foundations for today’s animal health governance systems.

To this date, Rinderpest eradication remains an unprecedented milestone in the history of animal health. The only comparable feat in the domain of public health is the eradication of Smallpox, a human disease, which was achieved in the 1980s. Both diseases have viral origin and share features that made them targets for eradication since reliable diagnostic tools and safe and efficacious vaccines were made available, along with political and financial support. Following the way paved by Rinderpest and Smallpox, other infectious diseases are now targeted for eradication, such as dog-mediated human rabies and poliomyelitis in humans, and peste des petits ruminants (PPR) in animals.

Vaccines are paving the way for disease eradication by 2030

The international community is now aiming to eradicate peste des petits ruminants (PPR) by 2030. The disease affects sheep and goats in about 70 countries, mostly in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, where 80% of the small ruminant population lives. These animals are mainly owned by family farmers, who rely on them for food and other products, such as wool and skin, as well as for income generation. Small ruminants also act as insurance for crop failure and drought. They contribute to food security, nutrition, livelihoods, national economic development and the overall well-being of about 330 million people. Among them, many are women, whose revenue is critical for their children’s nutrition and education as well as their overall empowerment. The eradication of PPR would therefore be a key contribution to protecting smallholders, farmers and their livelihoods.

The PPR virus belongs to the same family as the one responsible for Rinderpest. Hence, numerous lessons learnt from Rinderpest eradication can be applied to the PPR elimination efforts. As PPR vaccines are readily available and can induce life-long protective immunity, vaccination is one of the key tools identified within the Global Control and Eradication Strategy.

Vaccination: a cornerstone of infectious disease control and eradication

Although the learnings from Rinderpest and Smallpox eradication have been echoed on multiple occasions and fora, the infectious diseases presently targeted for eradication face a set of challenges, including unstable political situations, lack of funding at national level and vaccine hesitancy. As the current Covid-19 pandemic has put our resilience to the test, it has been a strong reminder of the efficacy of vaccination in global public health when applied with an equity lens, saving millions of lives every year and dramatically reducing deaths from preventable diseases. In the animal health field, vaccination has allowed for increased production yields, healthier animals and better return on investment for business owners. In the case of Rinderpest, the battle against the disease accelerated the development of a safe and inexpensive vaccine. With the vaccine on hand, it was then possible to roll out large-scale vaccination campaigns in affected regions.

While it starts resembling a distant memory, Rinderpest remains a potential threat due to the risk of escape, or deliberate release, of the virus from institutes keeping hazardous materials. The OIE and partners have been putting emphasis on prevention of a potential re-emergence and preparedness to mitigate the consequences, should it occur. Rinderpest vaccine reserves for global use provide a safety net and are a central element of the Global Rinderpest Action Plan. As a result of the Rinderpest eradication experience, the distribution of reliable vaccines for PPR and their inclusion in vaccine banks are priority actions.

Rinderpest eradication is a testament to the role played by vaccination and multi-lateral collaboration in protecting society against the effects of infectious diseases. New health threats will emerge, while old ones might reappear. We need to remain vigilant. Let’s embrace key lessons from the past to secure a healthy future for all.

Link: Creative Commons — Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International — CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

The Fifth Report provides details on the global use of antimicrobial agents adjusted for animal biomass for 2017 and interprets the overall findings of the fifth annual data collection on the use of antimicrobial agents in animals, including a global and regional analyses and for the first-time trends in antimicrobial quantities intended for use over time.

Global trends from 2015 to 2017

Debuting in the Fifth Report, the trend from 2015 to 2017 on global antimicrobial use data is included in the report. This new section presents the analysis of data from 69 countries on the global mg/kg intended for use and by antimicrobial classes. Globally, an overall decrease in antimicrobial quantities was observed with a 34% decrease of mg/kg from 2015 to 2017, indicating a positive trend over time in more prudent and responsible use of antimicrobials in the animal health sector.

This is an important addition to the annual database analysis because it highlights our Members and non-members continued dedication to robust data collection and the OIE’s commitment to continuing the evaluation of trends over time to improve our understanding of antimicrobial use and promotes behaviour change to ensure prudent and responsible use.
 

Five years of data collection

The Fifth Report marks five years of close collaboration between the OIE and our Members and non-members to collect increasingly detailed data. A record high total of 160 countries provided data to the database, including 133 countries who provided quantitative data of increasingly detailed quality. The fifth year of data collection also marks the largest number of countries who were able to provide data using Reporting Option 3, which is the most detailed level of data on quantities of antimicrobial agents.

This progress demonstrates the continuously increased engagement from countries participating in the data collection, and capability to collect and measure national trends. Countries have improved their methodology for calculating antimicrobial quantities facilitated through an Excel Calculation Tool developed to overcome technical barriers. This progress contributes to the building of a robust OIE database on antimicrobial agents intended for use in animals.

Future developments

The OIE is currently developing an interactive and automated IT system, which will provide countries with 24/7 access to review, analyse and use their national data, while allowing the OIE to meet its commitment to providing global data analyses to the public.

Such information may assist Members in risk management to evaluate the effectiveness of their regulations and efforts to optimise antimicrobial use and mitigation strategies, in accordance with Chapter 6.9. of the Terrestrial Animal Health Code and Chapter 6.3. of the Aquatic Animal Health Code and the recommendations of the OIE List of Antimicrobial Agents of Veterinary Importance.

The Organisation looks forward to continuing to work with its Members and non-members to strengthen national capacity to monitor and regulate the use of antimicrobials and improve global awareness on antimicrobial resistance through the OIE AMU global database.

This work is made possible with the financial assistance of the UK Government funded Fleming Fund.

An article from the OIE Bulletin: read the original

Resilience is the ability to adapt to adverse situations

Around the world, Veterinary Services are continuing to play their essential role in society, protecting animal health and welfare and public health, while also responding to the challenges posed by the pandemic. We have seen that Veterinary Services can play an important role by providing direct support to the public health pandemic response, through:

  • testing of human specimens for SARS-CoV-2
  • engaging in scientific research at the human–animal interface
  • donating essential equipment
  • contributing epidemiological expertise to public health services.

Veterinary Services are also:

  • working to manage animal health implications of COVID-19, including SARS-CoV-2 infections of companion animals and outbreaks in farmed fur animals
  • conducting research to understand the susceptibility of different animal species to SARS-CoV-2;
  • using risk communication to avoid inappropriate actions being taken against animals, including wildlife;
  • undertaking risk management to avoid the establishment of new reservoirs in susceptible species.

In addition, Veterinary Services need to work to ensure business continuity, and particularly to ensure food safety and food security through the continuation of the safe trade of animals and animal products.

In these challenging times, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) has demonstrated that, with the support of information technology platforms, it can maintain business continuity, at Headquarters, in the Regional and Sub-Regional Representations, and with its global community of Members. The OIE is continuing to share expertise and foster solidarity between Members and experts, host scientific discussions, take decisions and optimise collaboration with partners.

Resilience also includes learning from an event to be able to prepare for the next emergency

To strengthen preparedness against all hazards (including ‘One Health’ emergencies like COVID-19), the OIE is developing and sharing scientific- and experience-based guidance with its Members to inform the development of risk-based emergency plans and procedures. As well as having sufficient trained personnel, equipment and resources, to be fit-for-purpose, plans should be tested regularly through simulation exercises.

With the strong support of its Members, the OIE is well placed to play its role in strengthening global governance mechanisms and structures to respond effectively to future emergencies and avoid disasters. We have seen first-hand the strong commitment from the highest levels, including from the G20 Agriculture Ministerial Meeting in April 2020 that called for the strengthening of the One Health approach to preparedness and response to zoonotic diseases.

Today’s challenges highlight the need to incorporate wildlife in One Health strategies

Balanced ecosystems are a key component of resilience, and disease threats (including the risk of disease emergence) can be reduced by ensuring healthy balanced ecosystems. Today’s challenges also highlight the need to incorporate wildlife in One Health strategies. The OIE is engaging its Members, its wildlife experts and key partners in developing a long-term strategy to ensure that wildlife health is fully integrated into the OIE’s One Health and animal health strategies.

That is why the OIE supports the Franco–German initiative to set up a One Health High-Level Expert Council aiming to assist the Tripartite (FAO–OIE–WHO), with which the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) will be associated, in their respective responsibilities to address future crises.

Together we must take a multilateral, interdisciplinary and multisectoral approach

The OIE stands ready to play an active role in global dialogue and engage with the international community to ensure comprehensive resilience. Together we must take a multilateral, interdisciplinary and multisectoral approach to prepare and respond to all hazards and emergencies facing Veterinary Services in a holistic and sustainable fashion.

This edition of Panorama provides you with information on some of the projects, initiatives and programmes of the OIE and its partners that support the emergency preparedness and resilience of OIE Members. I wish to thank the authors for their contributions and hope you find this issue useful and informative.

Monique Éloit
Director General
World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)

An article from the OIE Bulletin: read the original

12 July 2021, Paris/Rome – Over the past weeks, more than 1,300 participants from 132 countries representing the public as well as the private sectors have registered to the global event “Stop ASF: public and private partnering for success” to identify collaboration opportunities that can help better prevent and control the disease. Through this event, the importance of public-private partnership and the need for increased engagement of industry leaders were highlighted as key drivers for success.

Considered as one of the major global animal disease outbreaks of our generation, the current ASF crisis has generated over millions of animal losses over the last couple years and has confiscated the livelihoods of families who depend on pig farming. While the disease poses no direct health risks to humans, it represents a barrier to the livestock sector to reach its full potential, generate employment and alleviate poverty.

When it comes to tackling ASF, public-private partnership stands as a key priority as the swine value chain not only includes pig keepers, but also those involved in the input supply, processing, marketing and trading, as well as consumption. Therefore, improved exchange of knowledge, increased awareness and trust among public and private stakeholders are crucial in implementing efficient and coordinated ASF control strategies.

The virtual event session was held on a dedicated virtual platform. It included 16 pre-recorded videos and two live discussions on 21 and 28 June 2021. Moreover, live sessions were synchronized with virtual table discussions to address the participants’ time difference and geographic diversity. The report of the event will soon be available and will outline the key opportunities for public-private partnership identified during the event.

The way forward for ASF Partnerships

A dedicated web platform was created for the event and will remain accessible until March 2022 to keep the momentum for strengthening ASF public and private partnerships. It displays all recordings from the live sessions and resource documents aimed to stimulate dialogue of different areas of work in controlling ASF, topics ranging from transversal public-private partnership concepts to their operationalisation by relevant sectors. FAO and OIE will further organize partnership events by theme and regions to make sure public and private sector stakeholders continue to collaborate and build longstanding working relationships.

While the travel restrictions in place due to COVID-19 have limited the spread of ASF, the current situation has hindered the capacity of Veterinary Services to address animal diseases. Yet, ASF remains a top priority for the partners of the Global Framework for the Progressive Control of Transboundary Animal Diseases (GF-TADs) and the different stakeholders who have engaged in the more than 150 activities and 18 webinars over the past year.

FAO and OIE continue to roll-out activities under the umbrella of GF-TADs and to combine global forces to strengthen animal health systems through the global initiative. Recently published, the first annual report for the Global Control of African swine fever fosters solidarity and cooperation between countries with varying experience and resources and highlights the progress achieved by showcasing some of the activities conducted to contain the spread of this devastating pig disease in 2020.

Joint OIE/WVA Statement

Paris, 9 July 2021– The COVID-19 pandemic pushed the international community to reconsider how health professionals can address disease emergencies in a more coordinated way. As human health systems throughout the world have strained under ongoing pressure, veterinarians have been offering their skills and expertise to help fight against the pandemic.  

This collaboration between animal and human health sectors is a great example of implementation of the One Health approach, as it recognises the need to join forces and capacities on common health objectives shared by both human and animal health sectors. While some veterinarians have supported the testing of human samplings, others have provided human health care professionals with life-saving personal protective equipment and respirators. By researching the origins of COVID-19, and conducting passive surveillance of animals, particularly those highly susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 (such as mink and other mustelids), veterinarians have also contributed to the world’s understanding of this complex virus.   

In addition to their numerous contributions to the global response to COVID-19, veterinarians have strived to pursue their daily mission to ensure the health and welfare of animals, as well as public health. This multi-faceted profession has played a key role in guaranteeing the continued safety of food production chains, sufficient access to food and the security of traded animals and animal products worldwide since the start of the crisis. Despite this valuable support to the health emergency response and the economy, veterinarians have been excluded from access to priority vaccinations in some countries.  

Today, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the World Veterinary Association (WVA) call on countries to include veterinarians as priority professionals for COVID-19 vaccination within their national strategies and vaccination campaigns. By doing so, countries ensure that their:  

  • health emergency workforce is safe, as veterinarians have the skills and expertise to support national COVID-19 response strategies, including the administration of vaccines to humans and the testing of human samples; 
  • food production chains are maintained, as veterinarians are critical personnel to ensure safe animal production and food safety.   
  • national risk management strategies are well-respected, as veterinarians are in close contact with farmed animal species (such as mink and other mustelids), or with endangered species and wildlife which are highly susceptible to SARS-CoV-2. Avoiding the exposure of these animals to SARS-CoV-2 prevents the development of new animal reservoirs and future spillovers of the virus to humans. As a reminder, there is currently no evidence that companion animals, such as cats or dogs, are playing an epidemiological role in the spread of human infections of COVID-19.

Through the inclusion of veterinarians in priority vaccination access groups, countries support a coordinated One Health response to the COVID-19 crisis.  This heightened collaboration between animal and human health professionals is key to overcoming the current pandemic as well as to preventing future outbreaks.

Specialists:  

  • Sean Shadomy, DVM, MPH, DACVPM, Veterinary Epidemiologist, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
  • Tianna Brand, Foresight Advisor, International Standards and Science Directorate, World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)
  • Dr Mariana Marrana, DVM, Programme Manager, Preparedness and Resilience Department, World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)
  • Dr Stephane de La Rocque, DMV, MSc PhS, Team lead for the Animal-Human Interface Health Security Preparedness Department, World Health Organization (WHO) Emergency Program
1. What factors can increase the emergence and spread of zoonoses?

Tianna Brand, OIE: The literature and scientific studies reveal numerous factors – environmental, pathogen, host or vector adaptation, to name a few. The central and recurring theme in emergence and spread are the interactions between humans and animals.

The opportunities for zoonotic pathogens to emerge are increasing. The growth of the human population and its consumption habits are the underlying factors – or root causes – for the emergence and spread of diseases. Ultimately a larger human population drives higher levels of intensive animal production, and furthermore drives the expansion of crop lands, human settlements and cities. All these factors contribute to the disruption of natural ecosystems and increased encroachment of humans into previously wild areas. Historically, the emergence of new human diseases from animal sources, such as the plague or Ebola, has been associated with major societal change.

Mariana Marrana, OIE: New pathogenic agents appear all the time at the human-animal-environment interface. While, most often, the newly emerged diseases often only result in local transmission before fading away, human activities provide the pathway for local disease events to become regional or global. Therefore, a disease outbreak that could be inconsequential from a global perspective can take pandemic proportions in a matter of weeks, as we saw at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

2. Why is preventing zoonotic diseases important for food security?

Sean Shadomy, FAO: It is critical to control and prevent zoonotic diseases, and to protect livestock in order to ensure food security and safeguard the livelihoods of families and communities. Food production and distribution systems are highly complex and multisectoral, and the full impact of zoonotic diseases on food production and food security, as well as the human health and societal costs and economic impact on producers, is difficult to determine.

The direct impact of some zoonotic diseases can include high rates of illness and death among food-producing animals, causing mass die-offs among livestock and poultry herds and flocks. They can also cause decreased production, such as by causing poultry to lay fewer eggs, or by causing stillbirths and abortions in meat producing or dairy animals, which mean both less meat and less milk production. In those countries where livestock are used as draught animals, the illness or death in these animals from zoonotic diseases can mean a loss of power and transport for agricultural production.

Some zoonotic diseases such as brucellosis can be spread in abattoirs and meat-packing facilities, causing debilitating illness and preventing their work, thereby impacting production. However, as witnessed with the COVID-19 pandemic, some zoonotic diseases are even more highly transmissible in these settings. The introduction of zoonotic pathogens into the food production and transport system, either through infected workers or on contaminated products, has led to widespread production and processing facility shutdowns, severely impacting market chains and distribution networks, leading to food shortages. The disruptive effects can be seen up and down the production chain, even causing some livestock producers to cull their animals as they cannot go to market. In addition, the economic impact and complete cessation of use of certain food commodities due to pandemic control measures has negatively affected or even forced closure of producers and processors throughout the production and distribution pathways.
The responses required to control certain zoonotic diseases can exacerbate the direct losses in animal production. Control measures including culling affected flocks and herds can cause the elimination of whole farms. In addition, national campaigns can cull hundreds of thousands of animals or more. When countries restrict or ban exports from other countries affected by zoonotic diseases of concern for animal trade, this can have tremendous negative economic impact on the producers in the affected countries, potentially driving them out of business. In turn, other exporting countries may move to fill the export trade gap, and this disruption in food trade to countries importing meat (often higher income countries) means that prices for meat will go up in the exporting countries; this in turn can put meat protein out of the reach of less affluent consumers, and impact the food security in those exporting countries.

3. What lessons have we learned from the COVID-19 outbreak and how will that change the approach to zoonotic disease preparedness?

Stephane de La Rocque, WHO: COVID-19 demonstrated the impacts that zoonotic diseases can have on all aspects of society. We all know that pathogens are shared between animals and humans, but this is often a neglected aspect of public health, especially in advanced countries where biosecurity, prevention and curative options keep us safe from many of these diseases. It appeared that some of the capacities we thought were robust in fact still needed to be further consolidated. This includes capacities for coordination between sectors, through a One Health approach.

The Tripartite has worked through expert consultations to develop tools and guidance for countries. But with COVID-19, we realized now more than ever, that countries needed to be able to access and implement key principles and best practices for the management of zoonotic diseases in the midst of active outbreak response. The Tripartite accelerated the deployment of its tools, and developed online trainings and methods for virtual facilitation to adapt and iteratively improve existing tools and approaches for diseases arising at the human-animal-interface.

4. How can capacity building needs be identified at the human-animal interface?

Stephane de La Rocque, WHO: The IHR-PVS National Bridging workshops (NBWs) create an opportunity for the human health and veterinary sectors to jointly discuss their respective capacities for health security and to agree on concrete activities to improve their multi-sectoral coordination, through a One Health approach.
The jointly developed operational roadmaps resulting from this exercise helps countries to prioritize their investments in building capacities, whether technical, institutional or workforce related. The NBWs provide a first step in One Health operational planning in countries and the implementation of these roadmaps is ensured through operational tools developed by WHO and its partners.

5. Why did FAO, OIE and WHO come together to write the Tripartite Zoonoses Guide (TZG)?

Mariana Marrana, OIE: For many decades the Tripartite Organisations have been collaborating on programmes to support their respective memberships in addressing zoonotic diseases, such as rabies or zoonotic influenzas, and health risks such as antimicrobial resistance. As part of this collaboration, the organizations advocate for an approach which is inclusive of a variety of disciplines in an effort to bridge knowledge and practices to respond or address zoonotic diseases and other health risks at the human-animal-environment interface. In the simplest of terms, we refer to this as the One Health approach.
The Tripartite Zoonoses Guide is a reflection of this approach and ways to make it operational at national level. It brings together principles for One Health, along with best practices in play in countries and information on how to set up efficient coordination mechanisms across sectors to address health threats, notably in regard to strategic planning and emergency preparedness or surveillance and information sharing to name a few.

6. What makes the Tripartite Zoonoses Guide unique?

Sean Shadomy, FAO: The TZG was developed under the leadership of FAO, OIE and WHO with the technical contributions of hundreds of experts representing UN and other international organizations, national ministries and agencies, and organizations representing civil society. This global team of experts developed detailed guidance to support countries in taking a multisectoral, One Health approach to address zoonotic diseases, and included recommendations for best practices for implementation as well as country examples.

The TZG was developed to be applicable to all countries and regions, and to address zoonotic disease threats, be they endemic or newly identified in a country or region. To go further, operational tools are now being developed and pilot tested to provide step-by-step guidance on implementing specific technical sections of the TZG – this detailed advice has been requested by countries. The Tripartite Zoonoses Guide and the operational tools are broadly applicable and not disease-specific. The entire toolkit is also flexible enough to support multisectoral collaborations to address other health threats at the human-animal-environment interface, such as food safety and antimicrobial resistance.

7. How can the Tripartite Zoonoses Guide and operational tools support country preparedness for their national context?

Stephane de La Rocque, WHO: The Tripartite Zoonoses Guide highlights over 80 country examples, ranging from the development of effective government One Health mechanisms or platforms, to zoonotic disease prioritization, joint risk assessment, planning and preparedness, investigation and response, coordinated surveillance and workforce development. Designed for decision makers and technical staff in countries, we recognized the need to create operational tools to support implementation of key principles. Three operational tools have been developed so far to support a step-by-step One Health approach in countries for joint risk assessment, multisectoral government mechanisms, and coordinated surveillance and information sharing. These tools are facilitative and adaptive to country context and allow for sustainable and iterative use as needed.

8. What will the Tripartite do to further promote the use of the Tripartite Zoonoses Guide?

Sean Shadomy, FAO: As part of a coordinated communication and dissemination strategy for the TZG, the Tripartite organizations have promoted its use through their respective communication channels, including websites, publications, social media, and throughout their respective networks. In addition, they have introduced the TZG and the operational tools through international conferences and virtual events such as the 2021 World One Health Congress.

The Tripartite provide training on the use of the TZG and the operational tools to the Tripartite regional and subregional offices as part of the pilot process for the operational tools. The goal is to increase the use of the TZG and to arrive at the point where countries and regions can use the TZG and the operational tools without Tripartite facilitation. Training on the TZG in six languages is freely available online.

9. How can we further improve our response to zoonotic diseases?

Tianna Brand, OIE: Pragmatically, working in isolation to address complex and constantly evolving parameters, really only provides one or a limited view of a much larger, dynamic and interconnected problem(s) – potentially worsening the issue.

Improving the operationalization of the One Health approach requires identifying the linkages between disciplines, organizations, data, resources and stakeholders, to bridge knowledge and actions and thereby prevent, mitigate or adapt to health risks.

Paris, 3 June 2021 – At the close of the 88th General Session of the World Assembly, OIE national Delegates confirmed Dr Monique Éloit for a second term as OIE Director General. The vote was held by secret ballot and followed the “one country, one vote” rule. Dr Éloit has served as the Director General since 2016. Over the past five years, she has strived to restructure the actions of the Organisation to modernise its different programmes and to enhance the transparency of internal procedures, with the aim to consolidate OIE’s position among major international organisations.

While thanking the Assembly for her re-election, she reasserted her conviction that “the OIE should not remain solely focused on traditional animal health topics, such as livestock disease control, but that it should go beyond them, by investing more significantly in veterinary public health subjects as they have an impact on the whole of society.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us that the challenges confronting global health are complex and constantly evolving. They cannot be addressed in isolation by a single sector but require concerted actions across several disciplines. Thus, the OIE has mobilised numerous veterinary experts to provide recommendations in support of the crisis management. The scope of OIE’s actions is not limited to improving animal health and animal production, it also contributes to sustain the lives of those who depend on livestock and aquaculture and to protect human health.

Benefitting from the organisational restructuring efforts of the past five past years, the OIE will aim to better respond to global challenges, through the implementation of the 7th Strategic Plan, which was adopted by the World Assembly of Delegates during last week’s General Session. The OIE will help to foster necessary changes so that national Veterinary Services, and more broadly animal health services, can be more resilient. Many of the OIE’s initiatives will contribute to address several of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda, such as “Zero Hunger”, “No poverty” or “Gender Equality”.

In support of this commitment, the OIE aims to promote and coordinate new collaborations for developing international animal health strategies which are supported by rigorous and evidence-based scientific expertise that incorporate the intersectoral nature of global challenges. As the operationalisation of the One Health approach will remain a core objective, the OIE will also seek to enrich its expertise with knowledge from additional fields, including socio-economics, for instance.

New technological advances will be pursued to allow stronger data management. The OIE is modernising and digitizing itself to meet the requirements of the new Big Data era. Activities include the launch of innovative tools, such as a new OIE corporate website, the full renovation of the World Animal Health Information System (OIE-WAHIS), the development of a global database on the use of antimicrobial agents in animals. The gradual establishment of an Observatory of Standards is another example of tool which will enable the Organisation to provide more effective support to Members in the challenges they meet implementing OIE Standards.

Over the past five years the credibility of the OIE has been strengthened because Members and staff have built a more robust, more transparent Organisation. Members’ trust, and that of partners and funders, is still strong. Looking towards the future, Dr Éloit states that “leveraging this momentum, my ambition for the coming years is to contribute to building an OIE that is still influential, engaging and – I hope – an organisation recognised for its values.”

My ambition for the coming years is to contribute to building an OIE that is still influential, engaging and – I hope – an organisation recognised for its values.

Dr Monique Éloit, OIE Director General

Paris, 26 May 2021 – Human consumption of seafood is greater than ever before. Today, aquatic animals are the main source of protein for billions of people worldwide. Additionally, demand is expected to increase as the global population approaches the 10 billion mark. Yet, animal diseases continue to threaten the sustainable growth of the aquaculture sector and, consequently, our food supply. 

As the emergence of new diseases is likely to continue, driven by factors such as climate change, unsustainable farming practices or unregulated trade, careful management of the health of aquatic animals is crucial. Most of these diseases severely impact the fisheries and aquaculture sectors, but also the open ecosystems in which these populations often live. For instance, the spread of an amphibian disease known as chytridiomycosis has damaged global biodiversity more than any other disease recorded, triggering an amphibian extinction crisis.  

The consequences do not end here. On a global scale, animal disease outbreaks cost the aquaculture industry over US$6 billion per year. Furthermore, they threaten the source of jobs and income for nearly 60 million people employed by the aquatic animal production sector. 

The World Organisation for Animal Health has been at the forefront of preserving the significant contributions of aquatic animals, supported by its international network of experts. With this, the 88th OIE General Session marks the launch of the first global strategy on aquatic animal health: an ambitious call to action to improve the sustainability of aquatic animal health systems.

In the upcoming five years, the OIE will bring together different actors from the international community, such as OIE Members, experts, partners, decision-makers and the private sector, to coordinate joint actions in response to the challenges met by the aquatic sector. Guided by its new strategy, the OIE will continue to develop standards, build capacities, coordinate disease prevention, detection and response, and provide leadership.  

By working together, we can make our vision of improved aquatic animal health and welfare worldwide a reality. Let’s make the OIE Aquatic Animal Health Strategy a cornerstone towards more sustainable aquatic ecosystems.


Paris, 26 May 2021 – Today’s challenges confronting animal health professionals are complex and constantly changing. For example, the climate crisis affects livestock and food production systems as well as the distribution and prevalence of several diseases. Therefore, the efficient use and analysis of data from different sectors is key to finding sustainable solutions for healthy animal production systems, our livelihoods as well as for our health. The 88th OIE General Session marks the opportunity to recognise the important value of the World Animal Health Information System (OIE-WAHIS) and its ability to provide detailed data on terrestrial and aquatic animal diseases. It is through this platform that animal disease trends for 2020 and early 20211 have been analysed in the report of the Current Animal Health Situation Worldwide.

As shown over the past year with the COVID-19 pandemic, the accurate and up-to-date knowledge of disease events is crucial to effectively controlling outbreaks and preventing further spread. When referring to animal diseases, localised and timely reporting enables monitoring of events. This is also key to ensuring sustainable animal production, and safeguarding human health, as some diseases can cross species barriers. The launch of the fully redesigned OIE-WAHIS in March 2021 represents a critical milestone in our ability to track animal and zoonotic diseases globally. OIE-WAHIS provides real-time information on the global situation of animal health, including a state-of-the-art digital mapping system. The platform provides in-depth data analysis and will constitute a vital tool for good governance of animal health, enhancing the relevance of veterinary data for decision-makers.

Lumpy skin disease is an example of a disease which is impacted by climatic factors and that has been regularly tracked on OIE-WAHIS. Its geographical distribution has evolved over the last decade to affect new areas. As a result, its presence in several regions threatens the livestock sector. Between 2020 and early 2021, seven out of the 11 Members who reported lumpy skin disease through immediate notifications experienced it for the first time in their territory in different parts of Asia. At the regional level, the OIE assisted the outbreak response by mobilising experts and providing guidance addressing emergency response, laboratory diagnostics, disease surveillance and prevention, as well as the importance of vaccination for affected or at-risk countries. The new OIE-WAHIS will further support the coordination of regional response by enhancing data sharing on control measures.

Amongst the most reported diseases over the past year, highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) and African swine fever continue to be a concern for the international community. HPAI has been reported by 42 Members through immediate notifications in the past year. The current wave of HPAI is mainly associated with the subtype H5N8. Similarly, African swine fever is another example of a transboundary animal disease which was reported by 20 Members in the past year. The disease impacts the health of domestic pigs, as well as wild boars, and affects local livelihoods and global pork production. The aim of the OIE is to continue to promote the transparent and rapid flow of information as an essential component to understand their epidemiology and contribute to fostering trust between countries.

The OIE’s mission to enhance the knowledge of the worldwide animal health situation and respond to disease events was further highlighted in the efforts of the Organisation to mobilise expertise to respond to emerging diseases over the past year. Early 2020 saw the first reports indicating the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in animals. As an emerging disease, it is notifiable through OIE-WAHIS, and it constituted 5% of all notifications received by the OIE by the end of the year. SARS-CoV-2 is a contemporary example of how data reported to OIE-WAHIS contributes to the global surveillance of diseases under the ‘One Health’ approach and can have a relevant impact on both animal and human health. Through the reporting of animal cases, the OIE was able to rapidly provide relevant guidance on surveillance and research activities to the global COVID-19 pandemic response efforts. Transparency of the global animal health situation makes sure we are well placed to protect public health, control disease and to ensure the safety of world trade in animals and animal products.

The OIE encourages its Members to use OIE-WAHIS to its full potential to support decision-making and animal disease surveillance at local, regional and global levels. The collaborative efforts by Members in providing data in a timely manner will underpin the OIE’s data stewardship role in the Big Data era. These efforts enable us all to use the data capability to develop evidence-based animal health and veterinary public health policies for the good of all.

11 January 2020 – 25 January 2021


Paris, 27 May 2021 – Namibia and the Philippines are the first two countries with OIE-endorsed official control programmes for dog-mediated rabies. It is the first time that OIE Members could apply for such approbation by the OIE World Assembly. This is a great move forward in the fight against this disease which still kills nearly 60,000 people every year. Having gathered evidence that their official control programmes comply with OIE international Standards, Namibia and the Philippines will be able to advocate for support from their governments to progressively prevent and control the disease. The ultimate objective will be to eventually eliminate the disease from their territories and self-declare its freedom, thus contributing to the ‘Zero by 30’ global goal to eliminate human deaths from dog-mediated rabies.

OIE Members can submit on a voluntary basis their official control programmes for four diseases for endorsement by the OIE. They can also apply for the official recognition of animal health status for six priority diseases. Applications are reviewed through a very detailed process, which evaluates the sanitary measures in place and compliance of the Member with the OIE international Standards. In some cases, in-country missions are conducted. In the current particular context linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, some adaptations have been made to ensure the continuity in the evaluation of countries applications, notably thanks to the implementation of virtual interviews. The recognition of official disease status plays a key role in the livestock economy of countries as it contributes to facilitate regional and international trade of animals and animal products, notably in the context of negotiations according to the SPS Agreement of the World Trade Organization (WTO).


88th OIE General Session

From the 24 to the 28 May 2021, the OIE celebrates its 88th Annual General Session of the World Assembly of National Delegates. This is the first summit to be fully digital and sessions are accessible through livestream.