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21st Conference of the OIE Regional Commission for the Americas

Barbados, 29 November 2012 – High-ranking officials from all OIE Member Countries in the Americas, including the Caribbean, and from national, regional and world organisations, attended the 21st Conference of the OIE Regional Commission for the Americas, held in Barbados from 26 to 29 November 2012.

Involving Veterinary Services in managing disaster risk

During the Conference, the role and preparedness of national Veterinary Services in disaster management were discussed. Participants acknowledged that the Veterinary Authority should take a stronger leadership role towards animal health and welfare in risk reduction and management during disasters. They also highlighted issues relating to early warning and rapid response to biological risks during these events and to the implementation of efficient strategies in this field.

“Risks to animals and threats of contagious disease outbreaks when exceptional climatic events or disasters of other origins occur make crucial to promote a greater involvement of Veterinary Services in risk management during disasters. Public and private sector components of Veterinary Services must be able to respond to any disaster hazard everywhere,” declared OIE Director General, Dr Bernard Vallat.

The OIE was asked to lead further initiatives such as organising regional conferences and workshops, and producing specialised publications that will help its Member Countries to build technical expertise of their Veterinary Services in the area of risk reduction and management during disasters.

“Adopting an intersectoral and inter-regional approach will also help countries to achieve real progress in limiting impact of any risks during disasters.” Dr Vallat added.

Strengthening regional animal health networks

The Conference also addressed the challenges associated with the establishment of regional animal health networks e.g. cost-efficiency and sustainability. The Caribbean Animal Health Network – CaribVET, which has experienced successful development, was used as an example to highlight the different factors that could overtake these challenges:

  • Giving a legal framework to the Network (definition of a Charter)
  • Concluding formal cooperation agreements with international organisations
  • Encouraging synergies with animal health projects conducted in the region
  • Promoting collaboration between research, surveillance and capacity building

Participants agreed that regional animal health networks play a significant role in the strengthening of national and regional surveillance systems especially for developing countries and regions and should be established with a long-term vision. They aim to contribute to the harmonisation of animal disease surveillance and control activities in a region. To better tackle animal diseases and transboundary diseases in particular, such regional networks have been created in several other parts of the world.

Participants also adopted recommendations in risk during disasters and animal health networks to be submitted for final endorsement at the next OIE General Session in May 2013.

There was a consensus on acknowledging that Veterinary Education of quality together with effective Veterinary Statutory Bodies were cornerstones of good governance of public and private sector components of Veterinary Services. The need for establishing basic Veterinary Education requirements in all OIE Member Countries was also emphasised. The OIE currently develops recommendations on a core model veterinary curriculum relevant to all Member Countries. It will be submitted to the World Assembly of Delegates.

Participants welcomed the 3rd Global Conference on Veterinary Education and Veterinary Statutory Bodies which will be held in December 2013 in Brazil with the support of this country.

The Conference was kindly hosted by the Government of Barbados. It received the support of the OIE Headquarters and of the OIE Regional Representation for the Americas. The Conference has been chaired by Dr Mark Trotman, Director of the Veterinary Services of Barbados.