Closure of the 85th General Session of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)
Overview of the Resolutions adopted by the annual World Assembly of OIE Delegates
21–26 May 2017
© OIE/I. Zezima
Paris, 26 May 2017 – Chaired by the President of the OIE, Dr Botlhe Michael Modisane, and the 85th General Session of the World Assembly of OIE Delegates took place last week at the Maison de la Chimie in Paris. Nearly 900 participants, representing the Delegates of 180 Member Countries, numerous scientists, and observers from 43 international, intergovernmental, regional and national organisations took part in this event.
The Opening Ceremony was held in the presence of fifteen Ministers and government representatives of Member Countries, as well as key institutional stakeholders: notably Ms Josefa Correia Sacko, African Union Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture. In addition, Dr Margaret Chan, Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), M. Gilbert Houngbo, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Prof. Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer of the United Kingdom – and co-convener of the Interagency Coordination Group, which provides practical guidance to ensure sustained effective global action to address antimicrobial resistance–, addressed the Assembly via a video message.
The OIE was pleased to benefit from the support of France, the Organisation’s host country. This support was addressed to the Assembly through a speech by the Minister of Agriculture and Food, Mr Jacques Mézard, at the opening of the session of Monday 22 May.
After six days of consultation, 39 Resolutions were adopted by the OIE Delegates including new and amended international standards and guidelines aimed at protecting and improving animal health and welfare.
In addition, the World Assembly welcomed the 181st Member Country to join the OIE, Curacao.
New and amended international standards and guidelines
Whether in the fields of terrestrial and aquatic animal disease, prevention and control, animal welfare or diagnostic methods and vaccine quality, the OIE Delegates adopted and revised a number of standards. A summary and comments on some notable changes are described below:
- 11 chapters of the OIE Terrestrial Code were revised and 5 new chapters added;
- 21 chapters of the OIE Terrestrial Manual were revised;
- 15 chapters of the OIE Aquatic Code were revised and 1 new chapter added;
- 6 chapters of the Aquatic Manual were revised and 1 new chapter added.
In addition, some Glossary definitions were amended in the two Codes.
Health and welfare of terrestrial animals
Several chapters on various animal diseases were revised, as were some of the generic chapters, including those relating to animal welfare.
- The chapter on infection with lumpy skin disease was updated and comprehensively revised to reflect the current disease outbreak situations and provide the appropriate risk management options. In addition, a major review of the chapter on African swine fever has been made.
- Two new chapters on the prevention and control of Salmonella in bovine and pig production systems were developed to provide guidance to reduce the burden of disease in these species, and the risk of human illness through foodborne contamination, as well as from direct or indirect contact with infected animals. These chapters, together with those recently adopted by the Codex Alimentarius, ensure an integrated food chain approach to the control of this pathogen.
- Tuberculosis: A new chapter on infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex was created by merging the two existing chapters on bovine tuberculosis and bovine tuberculosis of farmed cervidae into a single multispecies chapter including M. tuberculosis to manage the human and animal health risks associated with the disease.
- A new chapter on infection with porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) virus was developed to provide recommendations on managing the risk of international transmission of this disease.
Aquatic animal health
Amendments were made to a number of chapters in the Aquatic Code and Aquatic Manual. Some important changes are noted below:
- Amendments were made to the list of susceptible species in seven of the disease-specific crustacean chapters. These revisions are part of the ongoing work to re-examine all OIE-listed diseases and, where appropriate, apply the criteria for listing a species as susceptible to infection with a specific pathogen. This process will also ensure that the susceptible species listed have been assessed in light of the most recent scientific information. This knowledge contributes to safe international trade.
- Acute hepatopancreatic necrosis disease (AHPND), listed in 2015, now has a specific chapter in both the Aquatic Code and Manual.
- A new disease affecting amphibians, Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans, was added to the OIE list of aquatic animal diseases, which now totals 28. This disease has rcently spread, as a result of international trade in salamanders and has caused serious declines in salamander and newt populations.
New selection process for nominating experts for election to the OIE Specialist Commissions
Before their proposal for adoption by OIE Member Countries, all new and revised standards are carefully addressed and studied by the experts of the four OIE Specialist Commissions (the Code Commission for terrestrial animals, Scientific Commission, Biological Standards Commission and Aquatic Animals Commission), who are elected by the World Assembly of OIE Delegates for a period of three years.
As outlined in the Sixth Strategic Plan, the OIE is continuously improving the transparency of its standard development process, in order to have the best scientific basis for these texts and to gain their widest possible implementation by Members. In order to fulfil this objective, the OIE has developed a new procedure that will ensure the transparency of the selection of experts through a call for nominations. This procedure will be managed by OIE Headquarters and retains the involvement of the Council and Assembly in the election procedure.
Officially recognised animal disease status
The World Assembly of OIE Delegates distributed 17 certificates for official disease status recognition. No disease control programmes were endorsed this year.
First global strategy on animal welfare
The first global strategy on animal welfare has been adopted by OIE Member Countries. Built on the experiences and outcomes of OIE regional animal welfare strategies and platforms already in use throughout the world, this strategy aims to achieve: “A world where the welfare of animals is respected, promoted and advanced, in ways that complement the pursuit of animal health, human well-being, socio-economic development and environmental sustainability.” It was first endorsed at the 4th OIE Global Conference on Animal Welfare (Guadalajara, Mexico, December 2016).
This strategy notably recommends the creation of a new forum which will provide a platform for dialogue between technical experts and interested stakeholders. This platform will provide an opportunity for their engagement in the OIE Animal Welfare work programme.
It is based on four pillars:
- Development of international animal welfare standards, based on both science and practical experience. New work is currently in progress on standards for pig production systems and the slaughter and killing of farmed reptiles for their skins and meat;
- Enhancement of capacity-building and training of Veterinary Services;
- Communication with governments, national and international organisations, Veterinary Services, educational institutions and the public to raise awareness on animal welfare;
- The progressive implementation of OIE standards on animal welfare and their corresponding policies.
Global animal health situation
One of the key missions of the OIE is to ensure transparency of the global animal health situation, including zoonoses. The General Session was also an opportunity for Member Countries to discuss their national concerns in this area, as well as current developments in centralising animal health information.
Particular attention was paid to specific diseases, including:
- the global epizootic of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in birds. Countries must sustain their monitoring efforts for this disease, both in domestic and wild birds. A significant spread of HPAI occurred in 2016 and early 2017, mainly related to the dissemination of the H5N8 subtype across several continents (Asia, Europe, Africa and The Middle East), either through migratory ways or through international movements of animals or animal products. More than 30% of countries reported this disease as being present.
- peste des petits ruminants (PPR) is one of the priority diseases signaled by GF-TADs (Global Framework for the progressive control of Transboundary Animal Diseases). A Global Strategy for the Control and Eradication of PPR by 2030 was published in 2015. Around 30% of the reporting countries and territories still report the presence of this disease.
- foot and mouth disease (FMD) remained one of the three most frequently notified OIE-listed diseases, via the OIE early warning system, during 2016 and early 2017.
- a significant spread of lumpy skin disease (LSD) occurred in 2016/2017, particularly in Europe. The disease is reported present in around 30% of reporting countries and territories. The percentage of Members notifying the presence of this disease has significantly increased since 2005, mainly due to the spread of the disease in Europe, which is now considered a new LSD-affected region in addition to its traditional range in Africa and the Middle East. The significant movement of this vector-borne virus northwards is thought to be influenced by environmental and climatic conditions.
WAHIS renovation project
The OIE is currently working on an improved version of its World Animal Health Information System (WAHIS), with the aim of enhancing animal health transparency in an innovative and effective way for the benefit of its Members.
Under the WAHIS+ project, a dynamic and more intuitive system, with new features and powerful new digital technologies, including extended data-mining, customisable data queries and enhanced mapping features and displays, is being developed. The new system will be able to provide a reliable and real-time source of knowledge to support policy decision-making.
Moreover, interoperability between WAHIS+ and other relevant databases, as well as the ability to adapt WAHIS+ data analysis and display at national and regional levels, will enhance regional programmes and initiatives, such as evaluating the performance of Veterinary Services (PVS Pathway), antimicrobial resistance (AMR) activities, and disease eradication strategies and will be linked to official disease status recognition.
Global action to alleviate the threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR): progress and opportunities for future activities under the ‘One Health’ initiative
The OIE is actively working on the topic of AMR and in November 2016 published a coherent strategy for these activities, in line with the WHO Global Action Plan. This strategy recognises the importance of the ‘One Health’ approach, encompassing human and animal health, as well as agricultural and environmental needs.
The objective of Technical Item I at the General Session was to monitor the implementation of this AMR strategy in Member Countries and to better understand Members’ needs and expectations for OIE support. Several recommendations have been made to guide countries and facilitate the ‘One Health’ approach advocated by the Global Action Plan through awareness-raising activities, AMR surveillance and research, capacity-building and the implementation of international standards.
In support of its global strategy on AMR, in 2016, the OIE set up a database to gain more comprehensive knowledge about the global use of antimicrobials in animals and presented the first data collected from Member Countries. Based on an annual questionnaire sent to Members, the purpose of this database is to be able to compare standardised data and follow up trends in the use of antimicrobials, allowing us to assess the impact of national action plans.
Public–Private Partnerships (PPPs) as a means to strengthen the capacities of national Veterinary Services
The roles and responsibilities of national Veterinary Services are continuing to expand, triggered by multiple global trends, including: the increased demand for animal protein, the (re-) emergence of zoonotic pathogens and public health risks such as antimicrobial resistance.
Hindered by the scarcity of resources and capacities within the public or private spheres of Veterinary Services, PPPs offer tangible and timely support to address this complex environment and fulfil societal demands.
Veterinary Services play a significant role in contributing to the achievement of several of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). PPPs at national level can leverage the capability of both the public and the private sectors to reach these goals.
Technical Item II presented examples of sustainable “Win-Win” partnerships, supported by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which can inspire OIE Delegates to initiate effective PPPs and meet the demands of the veterinary profession to build a better society for all, today and tomorrow.
The growing OIE network of scientific expertise
The worldwide scientific network of the OIE has grown considerably, with new Reference Laboratories and Collaborating Centres approved by the Assembly of Delegates, bringing the number of official OIE Centres of scientific excellence to more than 320, spread among nearly 50 countries on five continents.
Sharing of information among these various institutes has proved vital to our achievements in animal health and disease control throughout the world.