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Closure of the 84th General Session of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)

Overview of the Resolutions adopted
by the annual World Assembly of OIE Delegates

22-27 May 2016

© OIE/I. Zezima

Paris, 27 May 2016 – Chaired for the first time by the President of the OIE, Dr Botlhe Michael Modisane, the 84th General Session of the World Assembly of OIE Delegates took place at the Maison de la Chimie in Paris. Around 850 participants, representing the National Delegates of 180 Member Countries, numerous scientists, and observers from some 40 international, intergovernmental, regional and national organisations took part in this event.

The Opening Ceremony was held in the presence of around 20 Ministers and government representatives of Member Countries, as well as key institutional stakeholders: the President of the World Farmers’ Organisation (WFO), Dr Evelyn Nguleka, and the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Mr Vytenis Andriukaitis, were among the prominent speakers at the Assembly.

After six days of consultation, 37 Resolutions adopted by the OIE National Delegates endorsed the approval of new international standards and guidelines aimed at protecting and improving animal health and welfare.

New international standards and guidelines

Whether in the fields of animal disease prevention and control and animal welfare, or diagnostic methods and the quality of vaccines, the OIE Delegates adopted and revised a variety of standards. The main modifications are described below.  
Altogether, and most importantly:

  • 16 chapters of the OIE Terrestrial Code were revised and a new chapter was added;
  • 17 chapters of the OIE Terrestrial Manual were revised and 5 new chapters added;
  • 7 chapters of the OIE Aquatic Code were revised and one chapter of the Aquatic Manual.

Animal health and welfare of terrestrial animals

Several chapters on various animal diseases were revised, as well as those concerning the evaluation of Veterinary Services, to enable Member Countries to take better ownership of their content and more effectively implement these standards.

A new chapter on the welfare of working equids complements the broad range of standards relating to the welfare of terrestrial and aquatic animals.

The adopted standard results from work over several months, following the forming of an ad hoc group on the subject in 2014. It encompasses various welfare aspects, ranging from the management of living conditions to the treatment of diseases and injuries, in particular by veterinarians. As with all OIE standards, it is based on scientific criteria and includes measurable benchmarks to evaluate the welfare of working equids.

In many countries, working equids play an important role in agriculture and the transport of goods and people, directly and indirectly contributing to household livelihoods, food security and economic prosperity. The benefits that they provide are often underestimated, and these animals are not always taken into account in national animal health and welfare programmes – in some cases, they are not even covered by national veterinary legislation. Thus, this text highlights the important role of national Veterinary Authorities in ensuring advances in animal welfare, and will eventually be completed by similar standards covering other species of working animals.

Terrestrial and aquatic animal welfare is an important issue for the OIE, which is organising its fourth World Conference on the subject, to be held in Mexico, in December 2016.

Aquatic animal health

Several chapters concerning the health surveillance of aquatic animals, as well as the prevention and control of diseases that affect them, have been revised.

Chapter 4.3., which covers general recommendations on disinfection, has been comprehensively revised. This therefore begins the upgrading of the range of standards that deal with disease prevention and control (Section 4.), as part of the Aquatic Animals Commission’s three-year work plan. Disinfection is an important tool for disease management within the aquaculture infrastructure, used to prevent the introduction and spread of pathogenic agents outside or within aquaculture facilities.

Global strategies to prevent diseases and antimicrobial resistance

Control and eradication of peste des petits ruminants (PPR)

A global strategy for the control and eradication of PPR was launched in April 2015, in conjunction with the FAO, at the end of an international conference in Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire) organised by the two organisations. Placed under the aegis of the Global Framework for the Progressive Control of Transboundary Animal Diseases (GF-TADs), this strategy is aimed at eliminating the disease by 2030, using the successful eradication of rinderpest in 2011 as a model. The action plan recognises the necessity of an integrated approach, including effective vaccination programmes, bringing the capacity of Veterinary Services in line with the OIE standards, and the control and prevention of other priority diseases affecting small ruminants, while using cost-effective methods.

At the end of the General Session, OIE Member Countries committed themselves to making this disease – which threatens the food security of millions of poor rural families – a priority in the development of their national disease prevention campaigns.

Regional roadmaps define the control and eradication measures needed at the national and regional level to be phased in gradually, to ensure continuing evaluation and monitoring of the disease situation. The transboundary aspect of PPR requires harmonised actions among countries within the same region.

Moreover, the OIE has committed itself to make high-quality vaccines readily available to countries that request them, through its regional vaccine banks.

The FAO/OIE Secretariat which will oversee the smooth operation of this strategy has been in place since the beginning of 2016 to support funding applications and commitments from investors.

[More information]

Global elimination of dog-mediated rabies

Following the WHO/OIE Conference, held in Geneva (Switzerland) in December 2015, a global action plan for the elimination of dog-mediated human rabies was developed in collaboration with the FAO, and with the support of the Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC). This document aims to harmonise action against the disease and provide flexible and practical guidance to countries and regions.

The objective is to achieve zero human deaths linked to canine rabies by 2030. To support the plan’s success, the elimination of this disease will continue to be a priority for the OIE/FAO/WHO Tripartite Alliance, within the framework of the ‘One Health’ approach.

To support the eradication of the disease at its canine source, using the most cost-effective and equitable approach, the OIE’s regional vaccine banks, deployed in collaboration with WHO, will continue to assist national and regional dog vaccination campaigns through the prompt provision of high-quality vaccines, in line with OIE standards.

This will contribute considerably to the success of anti-rabies programmes, which must also include regular mass vaccination of dogs in at-risk zones, encouraging dog-owners to be more responsible, promoting control of stray dog populations in accordance with OIE international standards, providing access to affordable preventative treatment for those who have been exposed, and increased awareness among the public of how to prevent and treat dog bites.

[More information]

Preventing antimicrobial resistance, using the ‘One Health’ approach: towards a new OIE strategy

Member Countries adopted a resolution endorsing the basic principles of the OIE global strategy against antimicrobial resistance. This strategy is intended to frame and ensure the continuation of all action undertaken by the Organisation in this area over several years. In addition to the development and harmonisation of international standards in regard to regulation and the prudent use and monitoring of antimicrobial agents, these activities will also include initial and continuing education programmes for animal health professionals, the necessary measures to ensure the availability of good-quality antimicrobials and research into alternative treatments, communication activities to raise awareness, and support for good governance of national Veterinary Services.

For the past year, the OIE has also been mandated by its Member Countries to establish a global database to gather data on the use of antimicrobial agents in animals.

The OIE strategy will be implemented gradually, using the ‘One Health’ approach. It will be part of the extended global action plan against antimicrobial resistance developed by WHO, in collaboration with the OIE and FAO, which the Member Countries of all three organisations committed to implementing in 2015, through national action plans. The goal is to ensure the long-term effectiveness of treatments for infectious diseases, in both humans and animals, by using antimicrobial agents of guaranteed quality.

Antimicrobial resistance poses a major threat to public health and requires the involvement of society as a whole. Its now highly political impact led the Directors General of WHO and the OIE to raise this issue during the meeting of Health Ministers at the G7, in Berlin in October 2015. Furthermore, the FAO, OIE and WHO are currently preparing a high-level response to antimicrobial resistance which will be presented at the United Nations General Assembly in September 2016.

[More information]

To ensure the success of these strategies, the OIE Delegates reaffirmed once more their commitment to strengthen governance of Veterinary Services in every country and to put the adopted Resolutions into practice, with – when required – the aid of the OIE’s PVS Pathway, a range of supportive and evaluative programmes, which include analysis, calculating investments, follow-up missions, updating national legislation and building capacity.

Global animal health situation

One of the key missions of the OIE is to ensure transparency of the global animal health situation, including zoonoses. The General Session was also an opportunity for Member Countries to discuss their national concerns in this area, as well as new developments in sharing animal health information.

A highlight this year was the introduction of the OIE’s new mobile application, WAHIS alerts, for mobile phones and tablets. It aims to ease the consultation of the data found in the OIE’s World Animal Health Information System, WAHIS, and, in particular, to enable users to receive immediate notifications from the system in real time. Launched less than a year after the World Animal Health interface (June 2015), this new tool is an important step in optimising information-sharing about global animal health.

In addition, particular attention was paid to various diseases, including:

  • the global epizootic of highly pathogenic avian influenza in birds, for which countries must continue their surveillance efforts, both in domesticated birdlife and in wild birds;
  • bluetongue, a vector-borne disease with a global reach;
  • lumpy skin disease, another vector-borne disease, typically endemic in Africa, which spread to the Middle East, then to Europe in 2015;
  • infection with peste des petits ruminants virus (PPR); more than 25% of countries have reported the presence or suspicion of PPR in 2015 and at the beginning of 2016.

Economic impact of animal disease outbreaks

The adverse economic impact of animal diseases is causing growing concern, explained in part by the sheer scale of losses caused by specific diseases, such as foot and mouth disease, highly pathogenic avian influenza and classical swine fever. The economic consequences of these diseases are as harmful for productivity as they are for international trade. To optimise the effectiveness of Veterinary Services and better assess priorities when allocating resources for improving animal health and welfare, it is advisable to have accurate data, not only on production losses but also on the costs of prevention and intervention when disease occurs. Such information, which is still inadequate to this day, is equally valuable when analysing global disparities in animal health systems and in highlighting the fact that many regions of the world have limited access to staff specifically trained in managing animal diseases. For this reason, one of the technical items of the General Session discussed the economic effects of disease outbreaks in the world.

Aware of the importance of such analyses, OIE Member Countries confirmed their wish to incorporate the economic aspects of animal health and welfare into the initial training of veterinarians. In addition, they approved the establishment of pilot projects to estimate the costs of animal diseases and of national Veterinary Services.

The importance of investing in national notification systems for animal disease, and in updating the WAHIS platform, an essential tool for global animal health information and for supporting economic analyses, was also underlined.

[More information]

Officially recognised animal disease control programmes and disease status

The disease status of Member Countries in regard to priority diseases was assessed for official recognition. For the 20th consecutive year, countries gained recognition of their status in regard to priority diseases listed by the OIE. Since the first recognition of disease status in 1996, concerning foot and mouth disease, this process has been extended and today applies to six diseases: bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), foot and mouth disease (FMD), contagious bovine pleuropneumonia (CBPP), African horse sickness (AHS), peste des petits ruminants (PPR) and classical swine fever (CSF).

New countries and new zones obtained official recognition of their disease status during the current World Assembly:

  • seven countries were recognised as being “free from CSF” in Europe, Asia and the Pacific, as well as a zone in Brazil;
  • Latvia was recognised as being “free from PPR”;
  • Kazakhstan and the Philippines were recognised as being  “free from AHS”;
  • six countries in Europe, Africa and the Americas were recognised as having a “negligible BSE risk ”; Namibia has become the first country in Africa to be awarded official disease status in regard to this disease;
  • three countries were granted “free from CBPP” status in the Americas, Africa, and Asia and the Pacific, as well as a zone in Namibia;
  • one new zone was officially recognised as being “free from FMD without vaccination”.

In addition, the World Assembly of Delegates endorsed the national control programmes for FMD submitted by Thailand, Mongolia and Kazakhstan.

In all, 25 national requests for official recognition of disease status or of a disease control programme were adopted by the World Assembly of Delegates.

All recognised disease statuses and control programmes can be accessed here.

The growing OIE network of scientific expertise

The worldwide scientific network of the OIE has increased, with new Reference Laboratories and Collaborating Centres approved by the Assembly of Delegates, bringing the number of official OIE Centres of scientific excellence to 311, spread among nearly 50 countries on five continents.

The sharing of information among these various institutes has proved vital to our achievements in animal health and disease control throughout the world.

All the Resolutions adopted by the 84th OIE General Session will soon be available on the OIE website.

On the margins of sessions which allowed for the adoption of these resolutions and discussion of the various above-described subjects, the General Session also served as an opportunity for Member Countries to organise numerous bilateral meetings, and for some, to sign agreements contributing to the support of OIE activities. It was notably the case this year with the signing of several agreements between Australia, Canada, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.