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11th Conference of the OIE Regional Commission for the Middle-East: Cost-benefit analysis of disease prevention and control and extension programmes are key tools for animal health policies

Beirut, 13 October 2011 – The 11th Conference of the OIE Regional Commission for the Middle-East was held in Beirut, Lebanon from 3 to 7 October 2011. It was opened in the presence of the Honourable Minister of Agriculture of Lebanon. Participants included OIE Delegates and high level government officials of OIE Members Countries in the region as well as global regional and national organisations representatives.     

The Conference was kindly hosted by Lebanon. It was chaired by Dr Nabih Ghaouch Delegate of Lebanon to the OIE, and co-chaired by Dr Kassem Nasser Al-Qahtani Delegate of Qatar and President of the OIE Regional Commission for Middle East, with the support of the OIE Headquarters and the OIE Regional Representation for the Middle-East.

Two technical items were discussed during the Conference:

  • Technical item I: “Preparation of veterinary strategic plan and cost-benefit analysis”.
  • Technical item II addressed “Extension programs dedicated to the activities of the Veterinary Services".

Participants agreed that the countries in the region should increase the use of cost-benefit analysis in their veterinary strategic planning.

“It is important to include cost-benefit analysis to veterinary services’ strategic plans because it demonstrates that the cost of preventing major animal diseases is significantly less than those associated with disease outbreaks and sanitary crisis, and because this approach allows an efficient resource management to veterinary services in line with the Good governance concept promoted by the OIE” said Dr Monique Eloit, Deputy Director General on behalf of the OIE Director General, Dr Bernard Vallat.

Previous studies on economic analysis co-financed by the OIE, the World Bank and the European Union found that the significant benefits accruing from improved prevention and control measures outweighed the cost of investment.

The discussions also focused on the importance to support the development of extension programmes in the field of the Veterinary Services activities taking traditional practices of the Middle East region into consideration. Raising awareness of veterinary students during their education could be beneficial to increase capacity on this matter.

Advancing governance of Veterinary Services

The Conference of the OIE Regional Commission for the Middle East also served to discuss the organisation’s general strategy to advance governance of Veterinary Services in the region.

As a global public good, Veterinary Services must be able to act and react within an effective, structured national legislative framework, and be provided with the appropriate financial and human resources to enforce it. Participants therefore recommended that the OIE continues to assist Member Countries with strengthening governance of their animal health systems, and bring them in compliance with OIE standards on quality using the OIE-PVS Pathway including the Gap Analysis tool. This tool provides guidance for preparing five year operational budgets for country Veterinary Services based on their initial PVS evaluation and identified national priorities, and allows determining the tasks and human, physical and financial resources required to enable National Veterinary Services to function in an optimal manner and to comply with international standards of quality.

This support to the upgrade of Veterinary Services also includes addressing laboratory diagnosis capacity.

Glanders (a devastating disease of horses transmissible to humans) was cited as a recent example of the central role veterinary labs play in disease outbreak management particularly as support for early detection, which is a crucial step in rapid disease control.

Furthermore, the participants emphasized that Veterinary Services have a key role to play in implementing a sustainable animal welfare strategy in the Middle East, in particular during the transport and slaughter of animals. To this end, a very useful paper on OIE Standards’ compatibility with religious principles with regard to the slaughter of animals was presented.

Finally, the Delegates of the OIE Regional Commission for Middle East approved two resolutions concerning each of the Technical Items discussed during the Conference, whose outcomes will serve as a basis for the upcoming OIE working programme for the region.