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14th Conference of the OIE Regional Commission for the Middle East

2-6 October 2017
Istanbul, Turkey

The OIE Regional Commission for the Middle East calls for closer regional cooperation and encourages OIE Member Countries to enhance animal disease reporting and the One Health approach.

Istanbul, 6 October 2017 - The 14th Conference of the World Organisation for Animal Health’s (OIE) Regional Commission for the Middle East, whose composition totals 20 members, was held in Istanbul, Turkey, from 2 to 6 October 2017.

Dr Nihat Pakdil, Deputy Undersecretary and OIE Delegate of Turkey, Dr Botlhe Michael Modisane, President of the OIE World Assembly of Delegates and Delegate of South Africa, Dr Majid Al-Qassimi, President of the OIE Regional Commission for the Middle East and Delegate of United Arab Emirates and Dr Monique Eloit, OIE Director General addressed welcome messages to all participants. They  highlighted the excellent opportunity Regional Conferences present to Delegates of the region for in depth discussions of issues of regional interest regarding animal health and welfare, as well as how to improve regional cooperation in better complying with OIE international standards.

The event gathered national Delegates and/or their representatives of the Member Countries of the OIE Regional Commission for the Middle East, as well as an observer country. Representatives of international and regional organisations involved in animal and veterinary public health activities and numerous other experts, including representatives from the public health sector, also participated as observers.

OIE authorities and Conference participants thanked Turkey for its hospitality.

During her opening speech, Dr Monique Eloit, OIE Director General, underlined the fact that, due to the Middle East region’s geo-strategic location at the crossroads of Asia, Europe and Africa, it had a vital role in the promotion of safe trade and in the global control of transboundary animal diseases, including zoonoses. This location, along with ongoing geopolitical instability translated into huge challenges faced everyday by Members of the region including as relevant to animal disease risks. Thus, complying with the OIE standards and guidelines, and taking advantage of the OIE’s tools in support of Veterinary Services was key to ensuring animal health and welfare as a contribution to safeguard the future of the region.

Following the opening ceremony, participants had the opportunity to listen to the OIE Director General’s key note speech regarding strengths, challenges and collaborative opportunities in the implementation of the OIE Sixth Strategic Plan in the Middle East Region.

Participants were also provided with detailed information, analyses, and trends on the priority animal diseases of the Middle East, collected through the OIE World Animal Health Information System (WAHIS), namely highly pathogenic avian influenza, peste des petits ruminants, foot and mouth disease, Brucellosis as well as priority equine diseases. Members were encouraged to strengthen border measures, surveillance systems and disease reporting. Considering the difficulties of such commitments they were also encouraged to make full use of OIE support in areas such as WAHIS training, the OIE reference laboratory network, laboratory Twinning support and the PVS Pathway to improve their capacity for accurate and timely reporting.

The following technical items were subsequently discussed: “Sustainable strengthening of the epidemio-surveillance systems in Middle East Member Countries” and “Addressing Challenges in the Middle East at the Human Animal Interface under the One Health concept”. The latter was followed by a panel discussion involving representatives from 4 countries of the region, namely Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar along with the OIE Director General, the WHO and FAO representatives. Participants highlighted, once again, the importance of a joint approach to support strengthening public and animal health national services, particularly to target priorities including AMR, zoonoses and food safety.

In addition, several additional key  issues involving the Member Countries of the region, with special emphasis on the following matters were fruitfully deliberated:

  • The welfare of animals during transport1 of animals by land and by sea;
  •  The impact and control of tick-borne diseases of animals in the Middle East;
  •  A fully functional regional network of expertise for camel diseases, CAMENET, undertaking research in camel disease diagnostics and epidemiology, including related to MERS-CoV2 ;
  • The evolution of the OIE PVS Pathway which will mark a new era of tailored support provided by the OIE to national Veterinary Services.

Plenary presentations, interactive sessions and panel discussions triggered lively and dynamic exchanges at this important institutional event for the Middle East region.

The recommendations adopted during the Conference will be submitted to the OIE World Assembly in May 2018, for endorsement.

The Conference was kindly hosted by the Turkish Government.

1 OIE international standards on animal welfare during transport.
2 Related article: FAO-OIE-WHO Global Technical Meeting on MERS-CoV. Geneva (Switzerland), 25-27 September 2017.