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21st Conference of the OIE Regional Commission for Europe

Avila (Spain), 1 October 2004 - The 21st Conference of the OIE Regional Commission for Europe was held in Avila (Spain) from 28 September to 1 October 2004. The Conference was presided by Her Excellency, Dña. Elena Espinosa Mangana, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Dr Arnaldo Cabello Navarro, Deputy Director of Animal Health and Delegate of Spain to the OIE and Prof. Nikola Belev, President of the OIE Regional Commission for Europe.

Approximately 130 participants, including the Director General of the OIE, Dr Bernard Vallat, the regional authorities, the Delegates of 40 Member Countries of the OIE, representatives of international and regional organisations and observers attended the Conference.

The OIE has a Regional Office in every continent. The five OIE Regional Commissions are composed by the representatives of the governments of OIE Member Countries in each of these regions. They meet every two years and the recommendations that are adopted during these meetings are submitted for final endorsement to the General Assembly of all OIE Member Countries in May of every year.

Special attention was focused on two specific issues:

1. Contingency planning and simulation exercises for the control of epizootics

2. Structure and organisation of the Veterinary Services to implement the concept 'from the stable to the table'

"These presentations and the discussions coming out of the conference will give many valuable arguments for governments to support a more efficient legislative framework and resources to Veterinary Services", Dr Vallat said. On behalf of the Spanish-speaking members of the OIE, he also expressed his gratitude to the Spanish authorities for hosting this very important meeting and for their voluntary contribution to promoting the use of Spanish in the OIE. "Thanks to the financial support of Spain and Argentina, the Spanish version of the Manual for Diagnostic Tests and Vaccines for Terrestrial Animals of the OIE (currently existing in English) was presented during this conference", Dr Vallat added.

The traditional reports of the Heads of Veterinary Services on the diseases that recently occurred in their countries provided Delegates with an updated general overview of the current animal disease status in the region.

In addition to new developments in OIE aquatic animal health policies, three specific epizootics of current and major importance were discussed on the fringe of the programme, namely, avian influenza, classical swine fever and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), at the request of the Member States of the European Union.

Recommendations on the two technical items and on (BSE) were discussed and adopted.

These recommendations are of great interest to assist the 50 Member Countries of the OIE Regional Commission for Europe to adopt a common position on these issues, to be discussed with the countries of other continents during the OIE General Session of all Member Countries in May 2005.

Participants supported the proposal of the Delegate of France to hold the 22nd Conference of the OIE Regional Commission for Europe in Lyon during the second half of September 2006.