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The OIE Fourth Strategic Plan: An ambitious programme for the next five years

Firstly I want to extend my warmest thanks to all the OIE Member Countries which, in May 2005, showed their continuing and large confidence in me by re-electing me to head the Organisation for a further five years.

This is a great honour and, during this new term of office, I shall do my utmost to further the OIE's development and to enhance its authority and visibility, spurred on by the noble ambition of improving animal health and its benefits for public health, poverty alleviation and animal welfare world wide.

At its latest General Session (May 2005), the OIE International Committee adopted the OIE Fourth Strategic Plan. The Administrative Commission created this key document following a lengthy process of consultation with the Regional and Specialist Commissions and with the valuable support of Dr Alan Randell, former Secretary of the Codex Alimentarius Commission.

The Fourth Plan will provide me with a very specific framework for drawing up my work programme, which will be submitted to the International Committee in May 2006 after it has been adopted by the Administrative Commission. This work programme will then be broken down into annual programmes of activity. The Fourth Plan will be re-examined after three years to make any necessary adjustments, in consultation with the Member Countries.

It was back in 1990 that the OIE decided to give its policy a solid legal and technical basis by drawing up five-year strategic plans.

All the objectives of the first Plan for which I was given the lead to implement - the Third Strategic Plan (2001-2005) - were all achieved. For the 2006-2010 period, these objectives should be consolidated and supplemented.

Accordingly, the Fourth Plan reaffirms the relevance of the objectives in the previous plan and clarifies the OIE's priority tasks. It broadens the mandate assigned to the Organisation in 1924 (to prevent the world spread of animal diseases) to extend it to "the improvement of animal health worldwide"

With this new global mandate, the OIE will play even a greater role in the policies linked to the improvement of public health by controlling zoonoses, including those that are food-borne; to the improvement of the safety of world trade in animals and animal products; to the promotion of the access of Member Countries to regional and international markets; to the promotion of animal welfare by ensuring animal health and adopting international rules to strengthen it; to the promotion of the role of national Veterinary Services in implementing such actions and to the support of their capacity-building.

The Fourth Plan consolidates the essential tasks defined in the previous plan:

- transparency in the world animal disease situation
- development of scientifically-based standards
- establishment of guidelines for the prevention, control and eradication of animal diseases
- determination of the disease status of Member Countries.

It introduces new key strategic guidelines to boost:

- actions carried out by the OIE through its five regional representations

- capabilities (training for Delegates and their national focal points), by using mechanisms such as the STDF(1) and other resources soon to be available

- the OIE's influence on global, regional and national policies for governance mechanisms to improve animal health and on the definition of priorities for scientific research policies

- the OIE's support role to Member Countries in helping them resolve bilateral or multilateral health disputes.

These new guidelines will mean reinforcing the capacity of the Central Bureau, the Regional Representations and the network of OIE Collaborating Centres and Reference Laboratories; developing relations with donors and other international partner organisations such as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank, and continuing to actively raise the awareness of Member Country governments to encourage them to increase their investment in animal disease prevention and surveillance.

Implementing these measures will engender extra costs, in particular to strengthen regional activities. That is why, in May 2006, I shall be proposing a suitable new mechanism and financing plan to the International Committee, whilst continuing to call on the support of international development-finance organisations, as well as on increased voluntary contributions from any Member Countries that wish to give us special support.

The implementation of the Fourth Strategic Plan poses a new challenge for our Organisation. I am convinced that we shall be able to rise to this challenge, with the active support of the Administrative Commission, the staff of the Central Bureau, Regional Representations and Regional and Specialist Commissions, experts from the Reference Laboratories and Collaborating Centres, all the Member Country Delegates and our technical and financial partners.

The implementation of this new policy will increase the OIE's reputation and firmly establish its legitimacy. It will help to demonstrate that the OIE is a public good for the international community and that its cost to Member Countries is derisory compared with the important services it renders.

Thank you in advance for your invaluable aid in helping me to successfully fulfil the mission which you have entrusted to me.

(1) STDF: Standards and Trade Development Facility

Bernard Vallat

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